Residents cite traffic concerns in opposition to Māori school

The 39.02ha block of city council land is used for grazing, but sections could be sold for the...
The 39.02ha block of city council land is used for grazing, but sections could be sold for the construction of a Māori immersion school and a new fire station. PHOTO: NEWSLINE
A planned Māori immersion school for Diamond Harbour says residents’ concerns over traffic are unfounded.

Te Pā o Rākaihautū could be built on 8ha of the city council-owned 39.02 ha block at the junction of Hunters Rd and Whero Ave.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand also wants to purchase 0.5 ha of the city council block at Marine Drive for a new fire station to replace the current earthquake-damaged facility, which is not fit for purpose.

Te Pā board chair Rangimarie Parata Takurua said students would study between the planned new campus and the existing Linwood site, so residents would not be significantly impacted by traffic.

She said arrival and leaving times would be staggered throughout the day, as students travelled between the campuses.Many would travel to Diamond Harbour by bus instead of car.

“It’s not like a typical nine-to- three drop-off plan.”

Parata Takurua said if a land sale was approved the school would start releasing more detail around a transport plan.

The site was chosen to be near Ngāti Wheke at Rāpaki marae, who already have a close relationship with the school.

A survey shows Diamond Harbour residents are split on selling unused city council land to Te Pā o Rākaihautū with many opposed, citing potential increased traffic into the area.

The survey was conducted by the Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū Banks Peninsula Community Board ahead of next Monday’s meeting.

Provisional land sale agreements will be approved or rejected by the community board for the school and fire station.

“There’s quite a few people who probably aren’t too against the idea of the school, it’s more we think that there hasn’t been enough information provided,” said Diamond Harbour Community Association chair Graeme Fraser.

He said it would “go down quite badly” with people in the community if a full traffic plan was only released after a provisional land sale.

“People will feel much better if there are concrete details down in writing.”

Fraser agreed the staggered arrival of students would help address traffic concerns, but more details needed to be made publically available.

The survey asked if the proposed school was a good use for part of the land.

This graphic shows the proposed sections for sale in red to Fire and Emergency New Zealand for a...
This graphic shows the proposed sections for sale in red to Fire and Emergency New Zealand for a new fire station and to Te Pā o Rākaihautū for a new school. Image: Newsline
Of the 424 survey respondents, 168 lived in Diamond Harbour. The rest were from outside the area.

Views on the proposed school were split with 50.9 per cent of Diamond Harbour respondents opposed, 34.9 per cent fully in favour, 8.9 per cent somewhat in favour, and 5.3 per cent unsure.

In the wider Banks Peninsula area, respondents were more favourable to the idea with 78.3 per cent in fully in favour, 2.2 per cent somewhat in favour, 18.5 per cent opposed, and 1.1 per cent unsure.

For the new fire station, survey results have not been released by location.

Among all respondents, 85 per cent were in favour of a new station.

Fraser said some Diamond Harbour residents could be opposed because of the school’s Māori focus.

“Diamond Harbour people are a bit of a mixed bag about things like that, like everywhere else in New Zealand. That’s why I’d like the school to make a stronger case, because then I think people like that wouldn’t have anything to complain about.”

Parata Takarua said “there may be those elements, but we’ve got to focus on what the needs of our communities are.”

Diamond Harbour School principal Jill Pears declined to comment on the survey results after being approached by Bay Harbour News saying it was too early in the process to comment.

The cost of implementing the land sales or the build are not yet known.

Te Pā o Rākaihautū’s proposal report said the Ministry of Education was committed to “planning, design, construction and operating costs for funding a new school build for Te Pā.”