Sod-turning marks start of rebuild

Turning a new leaf . . . Clutha Valley Primary School turned the first earth for its new building recently with (background from left) Principal Val Ward, oldest and youngest pupils Francesca Omelvena›Flame and Marshall Blair, board presiding member Laura Hunter, Ministry of Education project delivery manager Rick Jordan and Alaska Construction site manager Paulo Diaz taking part. PHOTO: NICK BROOK

A sod›turning marked the beginning of a multimillion-dollar replacement project for Clutha Valley School in Clydevale on Wednesday last week.

The ceremony began with karakia, the national anthem, paying respects to Queen Elizabeth II and acknowledgement of local culture and history before playground turf was placed in a special cabinet along with gifts representing the international diversity of the school’s 125 pupils.

In February 2019, Ministry of Education (MoE) Officials announced the existing school, which was completed in 2008 at a cost of $4.5 million, would have to be rebuilt due to ‘‘black mould’’, non›functioning doors and a range of health and structural concerns resulting from a leaky roof.

It had been hoped the rebuild would be completed in 2022 but the Covid›19 pandemic had put plans on hold.

Speaking at last week’s ceremony, school board presiding member Laura Hunter drew a line under the 2008 building’s ‘‘disappointing’’ outcome and praised the ‘‘diligence’’ of all stakeholders in moving ahead with the new design by Wellington architects Designgroup Stapleton Elliot, which Ministry of Education project delivery manager Rick Jordan said would meet all modern MoE design specifications including remote classroom environmental monitoring.

The new school will go up directly alongside the existing building, and primary contractor Alaska Construction site manager Paulo Dias outlined plans to recoup costs with detailed recycling of the old building’s components.

Estimates on completion times ranged from 12 to 18 months.

After the outdoor ceremony, afternoon kai was shared in the ‘‘multipurpose space,’’ the only part of the existing school which will be preserved and upgraded.

‘‘The playground soil preserved today will be returned at celebrations at the completion of our new school,’’ Principal Val Ward said.

‘‘We’re all looking forward to watching the progress, and we see it as an opportunity to incorporate the construction process into our learning programme.’’