Rug pulled out from under Enviroschool

Pūrākanui School pupils and sisters Lakoda (8) and Zavia (9) Ross lie on carpet which will be...
Pūrākanui School pupils and sisters Lakoda (8) and Zavia (9) Ross lie on carpet which will be replaced with solution-dyed nylon carpet tiles. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
An Otago primary school principal says a decision to install synthetic carpet in rural classrooms flies in the face of sustainability goals.

And farming groups say the government initiative is woolly thinking that is "quite frankly, kicking a farmer when they are already down".

Pūrākanui Primary School principal Nicky Bell criticised the move to award the 600-school contract to a United States company that manufactures solution-dyed nylon carpet.

The decision was at odds with the school’s ethos as an Enviroschool, a government-funded programme for schools choosing to be environmentally sustainable.

"No-one wants ugly synthetic carpet squares that do not align with our values.

"It just really goes against everything we stand for," she said.

Federated Farmers Southland meat and wool chairman Dean Rabbidge said with sheep farmers in dire straits with low wool prices, awarding the tender to a nylon carpet supplier was "insulting".

"New Zealand wool producers are already facing losses when it comes to the wool side of our business," she said.

"Doing this to our rural areas adds to the frustration."

The Ministry of Education said the chosen carpet tiles were fully recyclable, fire resistant and exceeded the ministry’s warranty requirements .

That did not wash with South Otago sheep farmer and campaigner Amy Blaikie.

"I wish the Government would acknowledge what really happens to synthetic carpet at the end of its life as well as all the added benefits of using wool carpet.

"It’s sad to think of all those kids sitting on plastic," she said.

By Alice Scott