Property Update


25th July, 2016

My the end of the first week in August, the demolition and removal of our old school will be complete and the building will begin in earnest!  What an exciting time for all of us!  

14th April

We have had confirmation from our project manager that the building will indeed commence toward the end of June, so exciting times are coming!  We will soon not have to feel like we are living in down town Bombsville.  

I have recently been asked why it is taking so long and the only answer I can give is that the wheels within the Ministry of Education move veeeerrrrrryy slowly.  As they are dealing with public funds, all the accountability checks make the process much longer than it would be if we were to manage this ourselves.  The Ministry own our property and buildings and no amount of jumping up and down can make the process faster.  So we will adopt the 'good things come to those who wait' philosophy as opposed to the 'those who wait end up with what's left over' philosophy.  :)


17th March, 2016

At our recent "Open To Learning" evening we were able to place the model of the new school and some drawings out for our parents to have a look at.  The Board of Trustees collected some feedback from parents and we are pleased to say this feedback from our community has been very positive.  


We are working on uploading plans and visuals to our school website, so keep an eye out for those.  Colours are still a work in progress, but it is our aim to make the school as natural looking as possible to match our unique, bush environment.

The contract is currently being negotiated and work is due to commence at the end of June.  The completion date remains August, 2017 and as soon as the new school build is completed, we will move directly into it and work will begin on the removal of the 27 relocatable buildings and the demolition of the Poutama and Kea blocks.  It is our aim to have our whole school site, gardens, field and access ways looking fabulous and ready for the beginning of 2018.


5th October, 2015

Despite our best efforts to keep everyone safe, we have been forced to issue our first lot of Trespass Orders to people who have been behind the demolition safety fences in the last couple of days.  The Trespass Orders have been written and will shortly be being delivered by the NZ Police, to those concerned.  We are always hopeful that others will consider the wisdom of entering a site so clearly blocked off, but apparently this has not been the case.   There is no excuse for this lack of judgement and with recent changes to Health and Safety Legislation, we take our responsibilities very seriously.  Please help us to ensure our community members understand the hazards our school currently presents.


1st October, 2015

Demo is well and truly underway and Union Demolition certainly aren't mucking around when it comes to getting these old buildings down.  


19th August, 2015

 The demolition of our school will occur shortly.  We have moved the majority of our things out of the school buildings and the admin is set up in the small building by the back entrance.  We have to out by 31st August, as our fire system is to be decommissioned by this date.  At assembly on Monday, we discussed the ways the school could be demolished and it was agreed that dynomite would be the most exciting!  We shall wait and see.......



23rd July, 2015

The staff are in the process of setting up in Poutama, as the remodelling has been completed prior to our school demolition, which i s now planned for September this year.  Kate and I have also set up shop in the design space of Poutama, which is turning out to be a bit of an adventure!  Finally our admin staff will relocate in the first week of August and demolition will follow this.  Final consideration is being given by the MOE as to who will be awarded the contract for demolition and then we will begin working with this company to address on site health and safety issues so that everything goes smoothly for all concerned.


21st July, 2015

We appear in the NZ Herald today...

There was an article today in the Herald, regarding our leaky school containing information that was not confirmed, nor questioned by either the journalist, nor the paper.  Many of the main points of the article were factually incorrect, nothing new was disclosed that had not been part of Minister Kaye's announcement to our community last year and as it turns out, the tradesman who had visited our school is subject to the MOE confidentiality clause when provided with the information to allow him to tender for the job.

So basically the Herald provided  wrong information from a man who had no right to disclose it, on a subject we all know more about and is public information.

Surely this cannot be news???


More Relocatable Classrooms

Late Sunday night, another relocatable classroom arrived on site and was placed in a tiny back corner of the school.  The driver of that house moving truck managed to negotiate rather successfully, considering we were in the throws of Cyclone Pam.  The truck that brought in the footings, however, was not so successful and managed to bog to the axles in our previously swampy adventure playground.  The house moving company then proceeded to pull their truck out, using a tractor and I walked away as the truck slid tenuiously close to the retaining wall.  The house moving company obviously succeeded in getting the truck out and fences were placed in anticipation for the arrival last night of two more classrooms.

Imagine my surprise, when the same house moving company who had bogged a smaller, lighter truck, bought in a MUCH larger truck carrying a MUCH larger load and tried to drive it across the SAME place they had bogged yesterday. 

These people obviously did not get their education at The Gardens School!



A multi-million dollar upgrade has been confirmed for The Gardens School in Manurewa by Education Minister Hekia Parata and Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye.
Ms Parata says the redevelopment is expected to cost up to $22 million and is a significant commitment to the school and its community.
“This will help ensure The Gardens is a school where the kids from the local community can continue to get a great education.
“The upgrade is part of the Government’s plan to create modern learning environments that are safe, connected and fit for purpose, and that are really  inspiring both the teachers and their students.

“The redeveloped school will have teaching spaces for up to 700 kids, as well as a new administration block and upgraded hall,” says Ms Parata.
Ms Kaye says investigations found the majority of The Gardens School existing buildings had significant weather tightness and structural issues.
“The school is effectively being completely rebuilt. This school is one of around 30 around the country identified as having the most complex infrastructure issues. The Government is investing approximately $300 million in major redevelopments at those schools over the next six years.
“This is one of the largest redevelopments because of the need to fix the weathertightness issues but also to plan for growth in the Manurewa area.
“The school has been operating from a number of temporary classrooms, and I want to thank staff and the community for their continuing patience,” says Ms Kaye.
Construction is expected to begin next year and be completed in 2017.


9th September, 2014

We have been working for some time to get the MOE to remove our school senior playground as it sits in a boggy mess, with insufficient drainage and really is rather unpleasant.  Our Board had been working with the Ministry, in the hope that they would cover the cost of removal and partial replacement and we could save our own operational funding to buy things we did not already have.  Yesterday we were informed that the removal of our school senior playground would commence today.  Whilst we are sad to see this taken down for the duration of the rebuild, the problems with water and safety have necessitated its removal. 

We are currently working on some play options that will be able to retain once the relocatable classrooms are finally removed.  We hope shortly to unveil some exciting, stimulating play options for our kids and as always, we will keep you updated when announcements are made.

12th August,

We are still working on the date of October next year for the demolition of the school.  In the meantime, relocatable classrooms will arrive at school so that all children will be housed in classrooms on the field from the beginning of next year.  We will have a new administration arrive and that will also be placed on the field and it is likely that the back carpark will be completed to enable some off street parking.  The process is long and the date seems far away, but if we take into account the planning for a new school for 800 kids, as well as the demolition and rehousing of all our students, I think it is better to be realistic and now 'rush'.  Intriguingly I have also been asked to join the MOE property reference group which meets in Wellington on a couple of times a term.  This group allows me to keep on top of changes to property and also be on a select group that has a direct line to the ears we need.


30th June,

This week we have met with the Ministry of Education and we have been provided with a timeline that will see a first stage of relocatable classrooms come in at the end of this year and toward the middle of next year further relocatables and an admin building.  Demolition of the rest of the school is to occur some time around October next year and a total rebuild of the whole school commencing late next year.  The building masterplan currently has no fine detail, but it looks like it will be a multi storey school of two or three levels and the admin will be up within the school and closer to the Principals office. 


6th June

Today our Board met with the MOE and we have been told that there will be NO decision before the end of this year and there will not be any work commencing until........????

Sound familiar?  The hold up is something to do with changes to their processes, need to justify big spend, make a business plan, jump through the hoops, etc. etc.

It was Ground Hog Day again, because I have been listening to constantly changing timelines since 2010.  We are just incredibly lucky that we have had such a dry winter!  As you can expect, our Board is not happy and we are exploring our options......

We will keep you posted, but in fairness, if you don't check this blog for at least 6 months, you probably won't miss much!


29th May

Our Board met on Wednesday night to discuss the delayed action and to set our course forward.  As you can imagine, we are once again extremely frustrated with the glacial speed we are experiencing with MOE decision making.  I understand that this is a very big commitment of funds and the Ministry has to get it right, but the cynic in me is wondering if they are playing politics with our lives and waiting until we get closer to the election to announce this lovely big spend on an area, such as The Gardens, which I suspect is a  National party stronghold?


21st May, 2014

I just read to the end of this blog post and probably shouldn't have.... in October, 2011, I wrote a post that MOE had got it sorted and things were happening with our school buildings.......  and then I wrote the post directly below.  I am a patient person, but SERIOUSLY???!!!???

Reading back I have said there has been 'nothing to report' or 'no real action' so many times, readers could be forgiven to think I was simple copying and pasting from somewhere else in this post!!!!.


21st May, 2014

Feels like a long time between drinks as we wait for some update as to a decision about our buildings.  We have once again been optimistically waiting for news only to find that we are now nearly in June and still have no idea about our fate.  I had been confident, as a result of assurances that we would know what was happening by March, then April and now.......

Today an email that indicates that other schools have had priority interest in the last couple of weeks, so the questions posed in Wellington about OUR predicament remain unanswered.  I had seriously thought that we would be planning our new school by this stage in 2014, instead of having no answers.......... but hey!  I seriously thought I was going to be a size 10 once too!??? 


6th March,

It is lovely to be getting such positive feedback from our parents about the new relocatable classrooms on the field.  The juniors have moved in and the teachers have done a brilliant job getting them jazzed up and looking fabulous.  There are only a few teething problems with them including a heater that WILL NOT turn off and the slow fitting of fixtures for toilet rolls.  Not too bad, all considered. 

The juniors have now also found out that I swap M & Ms for nails.  What greater motivation to they need to bring me a bucket full of sharp things?


25th February, 2014

The new relocatable classrooms are due to be completed this week and if you have not had a chance to check out the 6 that are already in use, you can see them below. 

These rooms are far in advance of the rooms we were delivered last year and although they were not all ready for the beginning of the year, we will have them shortly and Mrs Rush, Mrs Cooke and Miss Leabourne can enjoy their brand new spaces.

19th February, 2014

It has been a while since my last entry as there has been largely very little to report.  We await the outcome of the decision relating to the demolition of the school and this should be decided by April.  This is a huge one, so we are comfortable that good things take time.

The relocatable classrooms on the field are approaching completion and I am reliably informed by neighbours that they will be pleased to see the end of midnight deliveries of huge buildings up Mt Lebanon Ave.

These new rooms are beautiful and we very much appreciate the Ministry for demolishing the previous ones and sending us new rooms, with lovely decks. 

We now wait for the news on the fate of our school.




16 September,

On the back of no real news from the Ministry about what is happening with our school buildings, we are very pleased to report that there has been some development with the 'play' area of our school grounds.  On the top field we have had a train built and if the number of kids playing on it at break is anything to go by, this has been a huge hit.  We have also had seats built in preparation for The Gardens School Garden Show on the 22nd November.  Outdoor Art will be positioned around the school for this event and the competition is between each class will be hotly contended.  We thank local artist and sculptor James Wright for judging this for us.

We also must thank Henry Zaadstra (father of Sophie and Emma) who has donated several working days to pave around our new field water fountains.  I cannot express, on behalf of our school Board, how much we appreciate this very kind and skillful work.  Thanks Henry and family.

If only the Ministry moved so fast..............


28th August,,

Well, I can't tell you I am excited by the action.  Currently we have 10 relocatables coming in for the start of next year and by March the MOE expect to have made a decision about our future.  Imagine what would happen if I said to MOE ' some time in the next 18 months I will provide you with all the National Standards stuff you demand, but it might take me 6 years instead".  Yep that would go down really well!!!


22nd July,

And a month later.......... nothing to report.  No real action to speak of.  I am guessing that meeting at the MOE must have been pretty dull, but at least they have decided to make a decision.  They just havent' decided on the date to make the decision. 

Lucky I dont run the school like that, huh?


28th June, 2013


Well, as it turned out 18 weeks would have been worth the wait.  We have had another change of direction!  Today at a meeting somewhere in the halls of power, honour and glory a few public servants are meeting to discuss our fate.   Some sort of masterplan will, more than likely, come from this meeting and we will be told in due course what the plan of attack is.  It could be a rebuild, it could be a new build, it could be the first school in New Zealand to resemble a trailer park.  Needless to say, once we know, you will know..........

Just as well change is only the brief discomfort that leads on to the familiar.... (I made that up, should have been a Philosopher instead, huh?)


6th June, 2013

You will have noticed the speed with which the demolished blocks have come down!  Startling that something we have thought to be so solid, could be removed with such haste.  The most solid part of the buildings appeared to be the bitumen tile roof and every time the demo guys hit the roof with the wreaking bar, the rest of the school rattled and shook! 

We are on a 6 week expectation that the plans will be completed, even though I am assured 3 (really????) people are working on this.  My question would have to be, why does it take 18 weeks worth of work to plan a building on the same footprint, with very siimilar roof lines and cladding.  This is not my field of expertise and I always feel my hackles go up when those not in the know, question teaching or educational management, but I have to say "SERIOUSLY???"


22nd May, 2013

Last night at our property meeting the areas of the school to be demolished were confirmed.  Tui and Pukeko block are currently being demolished down to the slab and after design and consent, it is expected these new look rooms will be back in action for the beginning of 2014.  Next Kiwi block will be demolished and rebuilt on the same footprint.  It is hoped that in the meantime our 8 classroom block which is planned for the area where Kea sits will commence.  Following that, the major part of the school, incorporating all of the admin, staff areas, Kakapo and Takahe will be demolished and finally Huia and the hall.  In the meantime, remedial work will be undertaken on weathertight issues in the Poutama block. 

This work has huge implications for the school but a positive is that we will be able to address some of the design features of the school that currently do not work for us, such as our access to toilets and changing facilities.  As our school roll is continuing to grow, we are doing our best to make sure our students receive the very best education we can provide.


16th May

You will have seen in our school newsletter that the decision has been made to demolish significant sections of the school.  Much of this is due to damage from leaky buildings but there are also significant structural issues which are not related to water, that have lead to this decision.  Starting early next week, the Tui and Pukeko blocks will be dismantled and planning is underway for the rebuild. 

6th May,

I would like to say we have made smooth and timely progress on our buildings, but nothing has happened in the past month due partly to the extent of the rot but also the finding of significant structural issues in the exposed buildings.  Currently engineers are providing MOE with solutions or options.

Meanwhile, back on the farm...........


11th March.

What is holding up this corner of the building?

This is the view looking down the wall behind Tui 2.  What is not very clear is the air between the base plate and the noggings.  They have completely rotted away on this corner of the building!

10th April, 2013.

The remedial work commenced on the 18th of March with the scaffolding being put up and over the next week the buildings were wrapped in plastic.  Last week the cladding was removed, at which point things ground to a halt.  The extent of the rot was greater than had been anticipated and a firm decision needs to be made about demolition or remediation.  There is to be some further investigation into the roof structure and should more rot be found then demolition is likely.  We will know in the  next week or so.

Our 8 classroom block also appears on hold while the MOE and our project manager work out the financial shortfall. The building has been designed to the new modern learning environment expectations but is actually a reasonably basic building.  The problem is that the dollar figure per m2 is so little ($1800 per m2) that the building cannot actually be done for the price.  Seems like someone at the MOE needs to catch up with price increases or schools are stuck taking the cheapest quote and whacking up substandard buildings that cost us all in the long run.




13th March,

I believe that it is actually going to start!!!  Yesterday we had a pre-start meeting and the builders will be here, to commence on Monday 18th March.  We have met them.  They are real!  So after close to 5 years of fighting with the MOE to get some actions, our remedial build is to happen.



22nd February

We had been under the impression that work on the first stage of the remediation would commence on Monday and we have left the 4 rooms empty and ready to go since the beginning of the year.  Yesterday a fencing consultant mentioned that they were not anywhere near ready to put safety fences up yet, nor start work- and upon investigation, it turns out the date has now moved (yet again......) to some distant moment!   The hold up???  Who knows!!!  I guess it depends who you listen to and who you believe.  It would be nice to know when things are changed by people sitting in their nice, dry offices, looking at a map of the school and forgetting that there are 600 children, 55 staff and close to 1000 parents who are affected by this remediation!!  NOT HAPPY!!


30th January, 2013

It is all go for the 4 new relocs.  The teachers have been able to move into these rooms today and they are certainly down to the wire for having them ready to start in on Monday.  If they are looking a bit frazzled, it may well be because they have worked all weekend to get the room ready for a smooth start!

Leaky building work is on track to start on 29th with Bronson Builders being the successful tender.  There will be a major impact on our school carpark with the Western end (Volare) being taken over for the builders compound. 

Drainage work is still in the planning stage, but will also commence shortly.



11th January, 2013

During the last week of school, 4 relocatable classrooms were delivered onto our school site.  These classrooms have been placed at the Eastern end of our school field and will house classes while the leaky building work commences.  This leaky building work is to begin on the Tui and Pukeko blocks and the start date is 29th January.  If previous history is anything to go by, don't hold your breath for that start date but we live in positive hope!

We have also been working with architects on the 8 classroom block and I will have some plans placed in the admin as soon as they are available.


16th November, 2012

Today I have spoken with the company that is to address our fire sprinkler issues and they will commence work on Tuesday 27th, by digging up the middle court.  This will mean that the admin entrance to the school will have to be diverted.  There will be notices placed on entry points so parents are aware of this work.


11th November, 2012

Fortnightly, our board are meeting with the MOE to keep things moving along.  Tomorrow, work begins on the air extraction system between the first and second floors and shortly work will commence on the sprinkler system through the school which will involve some major digging up on the middle court and new pipes being laid.  We are also having 4 extra relocatable classrooms arrive before the start of school next year.   These will house not only our displaced students from leaky building repairs but also roll growth students as we surpass 600.


22nd October, 2012

Our Board has had several meetings with the MOE in the hope of getting some traction on our building issues and it looks likely that work is to commence!  Hopefully the Pukeko block will be the first to be remediated with drains and electricals being addressed at the same time.

The MOE have also approved an 8 classroom block which will be built on the site of the existing Kea Block with some major earthworks being considered to bring the entry level of this block down to Poutama level.  Some interesting times ahead!

We are approaching 600 (within the next 2 weeks) so housing students is going to be a challenge until this block is completed.

There is also some work being done on parking, which I know is the bain of many peoples lives and I am hopeful that some more parking will be provided on the western side of the school along the area where the drive runs up to Poutama.


20th September, 2012

There has been a void of silence regarding our property.  This is mainly because we have had very little action.  Several months ago the MOE met with the Board and it was agreed that the MOE would address ALL the issues relating to our school instead of just the leaky building work.  If you were not aware, we have issues relating to sewer lines, storm water drainage, sprinkler calculations, air extraction systems and ground water as well as the leaky building work.  Our Board had then waited for the MOE to form a plan of attack.  With a little judicious pressure from the Board, we now have confirmation that work is to commence.  We are currently in the process of early planning for an 8 classroom block which will be built where the Kea block currently sits.  We are also looking at a commencement date for remedial work to the Pukeko classrooms, one of which we currently choose not to use, due to the poor air quality.  The other issues are under investigation pending remediation and we are optimistic that in a couple of years time, the school buildings will be problem free and beautiful!

In the meantime, we will continue to work on our grounds and the areas of the school we know will not be affected by significant building work.  This is a long term project and our Board are committed to ensuring we provide the best possible environment for our children's education.



23rd May, 2012

At the Board meeting tonight we have agreed to the Ministry proposal of looking at all the issues in the school  and developing one timeline to address things.  This will include not only the leaky building issues, but also electrical and fire faults, cracks, poor workmanship in the original build as well as the roll growth classrooms we have already had approved.  Under normal circumstances each peice of funding comes out of a different Ministry bucket and up until this point the issues have been treated in isolation.  Our Board was proactive in February 2011 with a suggestion to look holisitcally at the school, however at that stage the Ministry had not got their heads around the range of problems.  It may take longer to get things sorted, but they will be done correctly and finally!


17th May, 2012

Our school has had a new Ministry Property Officer appointed and we are working with him to get an holisitc approach to the schools myraid of issues. 



20th April, 2012

We have recently had a meeting with the Ministry of Education about our buildings and our roll growth and we are very hopeful that they are willing to consider a plan that will see us with sufficient buildings to manage the roll growth across several years.  This may include the demolition of some existing buildings, depending on the extent of damage due to weather tightness issues.


22nd March, 2012

At our Board meeting last night it was agreed to spend a large sum on money to do repair and maintenance work on our sports field.  You may not be aware that our field is a sand based sports field and has been designed to drain very quickly so that it can be used within 10 minutes of a heavy downpour.  The maintenance of the field costs around $6000 per year.  In the past couple of years, with on going building and reloctables being bought into the school we have chosen not to spend the money, but have decided it is reaching a point where it is dangerous.  The field will be closed during this work, which we anticipate will commence during the up coming school holidays.


9th March, 2012

No real surprises!  They are not commencing work at present.  I had a meeting with the Ministry of Education last week and there is on-going uncertainty about the plans for our school.  Our Board have approached the MOE to ask that work not commence until December of this year, mainly due to the uncertainty in the building industry amongst companies that do this type of work and to this scale.  We don't want to be left with a building wrapped in plastic and a company unable to work due to liquidation!


3rd March, 2012

Check out our new additions to the grounds!  We have had another hut built and rock garden completed up the top and have the pergola built outside Poutama! 

Check out the blog from Kea 1 for photos dated 29th Feb.


January, 2012

Our building work to address the leaky issues was due to start at the end of January.  This has not commenced and we have now been given a date of March, 2012.  I will keep you posted.


October, 2011
And so it begins…
Our relocatable classrooms have arrived! Things are finally starting to
happen! If you have not been near school lately, on the top field we have a
road. It runs from Mt Lebanon to the middle court end of the playing field.
Upon this road, four classrooms have been trucked in. They have come out of
Papakura High School and, starting tomorrow, will be refurbished to meet The
Gardens School’s expectations to be ready for occupancy in three to four
weeks time. Wahoo! Watch this space!
Also, yesterday we finally received approval for three roll-growth classrooms
to be built! This is fantastic news and far be it for me to say, “too late!” as
we sit in the Takahe corridor (our senior management office having been
transformed into Kereru 2, a new entrant classroom). Instead, I will say,
“good things come to those who wait”.
I would like to formally thank our school staff for their patience, flexibility
and understanding of our current ‘situation’ as they have, with much aplomb,
willingly adjusted to changes and the pressures associated to our teaching
environment. Not once have I heard a staff member complaining about future
moves, the lack of space or the modifications we have had to undertake.
After many years in this role, I understand that the wheels of bureaucracy
(Ministry of Education) move slowly (more than evident
through what we are experiencing now) so I would like to
assure our community that our Board of Trustees has been
extremely proactive over a number of years in attempts to
alert the MOE to our upcoming property issues.
It has been a frustrating ride however I think we can see
the light at the end of the tunnel… 

We started this battle in 2008 and finally thought something was happening in 2010.  One day soon, we will have a healthy school!  We are just pleased they are finally coming to fix it!
On our website we have a tab (under ‘Information’ on the home page) where
we will keep parents posted with updates. SUSANNAH FOWLER, PRINCIPAL

Letter to Community- BOT.pdf373.4 KB