SHARE
In discussions: Two sections at Ladies Mile have been identified as possible sites for future schools in Queenstown, with one pegged to open in eight years

By TRACEY ROXBURGH and PHILIP CHANDLER

Provision is being made for a second high school in the Whakatipu, pegged to open in 2030 — around the same time as Wakatipu High School is likely to hit full student capacity.

The Ministry of Education (MoE) has been eyeing up sites for another high school for some time — earlier this year it attempted to take the 14.6-hectare property at 516 Ladies Mile, bought by Queenstown’s council in 2019 for just under $14 million, though that was rebuffed by councillors.

But one of three landowners on the northern side of Ladies Mile says they want to work with MoE to build a second high school there.

Ladies Mile developer Sanderson Group — responsible for Queenstown Country Club retirement village and the neighbour ing Kawarau Park precinct — owns 489 Ladies Mile.

Sanderson Group CEO Jared Baronian says between them and two other neighbouring landowners there’s about 8ha of land on which, under the council’s proposed masterplan, due to go back to council for consideration on June 3, a future high school could sit.

‘‘[We’re] wanting to work with the MoE to get the high school outcome achieved there,’’ Baronian says.

That school could open in eight years for 1100 students, with ultimate capacity of 1800.

MoE’s infrastructure and digital leader Scott Evans says the ministry ‘‘has a requirement for a secondary and primary school in the Ladies Mile area’’, but is remaining tight-lipped when it comes to where.

‘‘We’re unable to comment on the exact site locations because discussions with landowners are ongoing and commercially sensitive.

‘‘The ministry has been engaged in the masterplanning process, and is in regular and productive communication with key stakeholders, including a number of landowners,’’ Evans says.

Outgoing WHS principal Steve Hall says he understands the ministry’s already done
some leg work on what Queenstown’s next high school might look like, with a few options in play.

Options in play: Wakatipu High principal Steve Hall

That’s because once the existing high school’s ‘phase two’ expansion finishes at the start of next year they’ll have hit site capacity.

The project started in June, 2020, to increase WHS’s student capacity from 1200 to 1800.

It includes two extra teaching wings and a new double gym.

Hall says the school’s roll is sitting at 1220.

He anticipates that’ll grow by another 100 next year, and estimates WHS will cap out by the end of this decade.

‘‘Beyond that, they need another school,’’ he says.

The ministry will ultimately make the call on what that school looks like, but options include having it under the auspices of the WHS board, ‘‘so you essentially have one school, two campuses’’, or using one site as a WHS junior and middle school  campus and the other for seniors.

‘‘Clearly, it won’t be my call but you can see some advantage in that.’’

Hall accepts, though, the clock’s ticking.

It took four years from the time then-Education Minister Hekia Parata confirmed the new $50m high school at Frankton would be built, until it opened, in February, 2018.

‘‘It will be 2023 when phase two’s finished, and it won’t feel like that long till it’ll have to be being looked at if Queens town and the school continues to grow,’’ Hall says.

ed@scene.co.nz