MPs scrap over new school

A 60 kilometre round trip to college for Omokoroa Aquinas student Taylor Osterman. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

Two Tauranga MPs are trading shots over the building of a new secondary school at Omokoroa.

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller started the firefight by ‘slamming the Government’ for what he claims is a lack of urgency and delays in acquiring land and building of a new school on Omokoroa.

“The build is on the horizon but not in the near future,” says Todd. “And the lack of infrastructure for our local community has now reached critical levels.

That prompted a burst of return fire from Labour list MP Jan Tinetti. “If Todd wanted a new school by now, the Ministry should have bought the land when he was in Government and planned for growth. But they didn’t.”

She says Todd is right on one score - planning hadn’t been done across New Zealand for schooling.

“So this Government released a first- of-its-kind national education growth plan which maps the growth across the country with a billion dollar investment this budget to deliver on it,” says Jan. “That’s the  most a New Zealand Government has ever provided.”

Todd Muller said a recent report from the Ministry of Education acknowledged high population growth in the region but said it could take five to six years to complete a new school after land has been acquired. “This was just not good enough,” said the MP. “We can’t wait, the Ministry needs to have another look at this and fast-track building the school. We need that school now.”

And he appealed to the government to support the growing community – “not turn their back on us and ignore us.”

That support is coming according to Jan Tinetti. The Ministry is currently getting land for the schools that are needed for the growth plan

“It has always taken four to six years to build a school because you have to work with council to get the land zoned for education, make sure classrooms are in the right place, design classrooms, get a construction company and then build a school. Having been a former school principal I am well aware of this.”

The List MP says the government is taking action and planning for the next ten years to ensure there are enough classrooms in the high growth areas of Tauranga, Omokoroa and Papamoa.