School site up for grabs

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The former site of Queenstown’s high school is being considered by another government department to see if it’s worth keeping in public hands.

Wakatipu High School’s Gorge Road site has been empty since the move to a new campus at Remarkables Park at the start of the year.

The site’s owned by the Ministry of Education (MoE), which has decided it’s surplus to requirements.

Land Information NZ (LINZ) Crown property boss John Hook confirms “the former Wakatipu High School site entered the disposal process on April 3, 2018”.

“Our role is to manage the property through the disposal process on behalf of the Ministry of Education.”

That triggers a multi-tiered process, with the first step being to determine if the land’s needed for any other public works.

At the moment, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is con-sidering it, Hook says.

If MBIE isn’t keen, the next step is to determine if the land needs to be offered back to the person the Crown originally bought it off, or their successors.

If that doesn’t go ahead, the land can be offered to Maori under a Treaty settlement or land banking, or, finally, be put up for grabs on the open market.

Ngai Tahu has first right of refusal on the site.

Ngai Tahu didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The news comes as MoE continues work to source land for a proposed new primary school in the area, 18 months on from announcing it was looking.

A spokeswoman says the ministry is “still in the early stages of acquiring a new school site in Wakatipu” but declined to say what areas were being looked at.

It won’t comment on specifics due to “commercial sensitivity”.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz