1 Nov 2016

Christchurch's Redcliffs School gets a new home

9:00 pm on 1 November 2016

After years of uncertainty, students, staff and parents of the earthquake-affected Redcliffs School have been told the school will return to the suburb - but in a new location.

Chelsea Halliwell with her kids Georgie and Flynn, at today's announcement over the future of Redcliffs School.

Chelsea Halliwell with her kids, Georgie and Flynn, at today's announcement over the future of Redcliffs School. Photo: RNZ / Maja Burry

Following a meeting with the primary school's board of trustees, Education Minister Hekia Parata today announced it would be relocated to nearby Redcliffs Park.

Students and staff were shifted to a temporary site in Sumner after the 2011 earthquakes, because of concerns about the stability of the cliff behind the school.

In July, Ms Parata overturned an interim decision to close the school, and the Ministry of Education had been investigating whether it should be permanently relocated or go back to the original site.

The proposed new site for Redcliffs School.

The proposed new site for Redcliffs School Photo: maja

Principal Rose McInerney welcomed today's decision, despite the school having wanted to return to its original site on Main Road.

"Redcliffs School is going to be relocated to Redcliffs Park, which is just opposite our old Main Road site.

"We're really thrilled, it's been a really long process, and we've put a huge amount of work into making sure that our school returns to its community, and we're really thrilled that it has been returned to its community."

The minister considered Redcliffs Park to be the best site for future roll growth, future teaching and learning needs, as well as the possibility of exploring co-located and shared community facilities, Ms McInerney said.

Ms Parata said her decision was the right one.

"I understand that there are clearly people who think return to the main site is preferable, but that would involve more mitigation, it would involve ongoing management of psycho-social issues for the young people.

"It's a smaller site; it would have been a partial rebuild, instead of a brand-new school."

A detailed analysis would be undertaken on Redcliffs Park to find the best site on the land.

The current temporary site for Redcliffs School.

The current temporary site for Redcliffs School Photo: RNZ / Maja Burry

Redcliffs School student Tane Williams said today's announcement was exciting.

"I think it's really good that we get to move back to there [Redcliffs]. It's going to be really exciting to have a whole new school."

There had been a lot of uncertainty, he said.

"It's been quite nervous. We have [had] to wait here for ages, just for a decision to come out. It's quite scary."

Labour MP Ruth Dyson said the community had remained staunch throughout the process.

"I know that people will just be walking around [doing a] combination of crying and smiling.

"It's a very close-knit community, a very strong community, and - when the initial proposal came out to close the school - people were just devastated."

It was not known yet what would be done with the old school site, which has an 108-year history.

One parent, Brendon Clarke, said it would be sad to say good-bye.

Parents Annoushka Paynter and Brendon Clarke.

Parents Annoushka Paynter and Brendon Clarke Photo: RNZ / Maja Burry

He said he believed the process could have been handled better by the minister.

"The whole process could have been a lot faster, I would have thought. It would've been nice to know years ago, because it's been five years since the February quakes. But, you know, obviously these things take time. "

It will be a while longer before the school does return to Redcliffs - it is expected the new site will be ready for use in 2019.