Interim Redcliffs decision announced

  • Hekia Parata

Education Minister Hekia Parata has made an interim decision to close Redcliffs School in Christchurch because of ongoing concern about the unstable cliff behind the school.

“I know this isn’t the decision some had hoped for,” says Ms Parata. “However, I have considered the submissions, including expert advice, and I remain concerned about the potential for future disruption to education provision if the school returns to the Main Road site.

“While the school’s board has argued that circumstances that could give rise to potential disruption are extremely unlikely, advice from technical experts has shown these concerns cannot be ruled out.”

“The situation is further complicated by uncertainty over which agency or agencies would be responsible for deciding on a return to the site following a significant event, the private ownership of the land behind the school and the fact that no agency is currently monitoring the cliff face.

“Although not the primary reason for my decision, I am also concerned about the uncertainty of the likely timing of a return to the Main Road site. As I understand it, there is still no timeframe set for the removal of the houses from the clifftop and no work can begin until this happens.

“It has already been five years since the school was on its site. It could be several more years.

“In my view, these factors mean the Main Road site is not suitable for education provision in the longer term. Conversely, if Redcliffs School was closed, I am satisfied that children from Redcliffs would be able to access a very good education at other schools in the neighbourhood.

“This is not the end of the process. The board still has a further opportunity to provide any further reasons it has in favour of the school remaining open. I have asked the Board how long it will need for this further consultation process. Once I have heard back from them on this, I will confirm the timeframe.”

Ms Parata says the Government remains absolutely committed to the communities of greater Christchurch.

“We are investing $1.137 billion over 10 years in education renewal in greater Christchurch, and around $100m in the next year alone.”

The Education Ministry’s advice on the issue can be found here.