A blessing and sod turning this morning will mark the start of construction of the new, $30 million Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery school in Christchurch, says Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye.

“I’m really looking forward to being at the school’s St Asaph Street site today, having visited their current Ilam site last August to announce their new inner city home,” says Ms Kaye.

Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery, formed through the merger of Discovery One and Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti, has been operating from two sites outside the city centre while awaiting its new home.

“It took some time to find the right site to support the school’s unique vision and approach to learning, so it will be a privilege to turn the first sod there this morning and see the construction phase of this project get underway,” says Ms Kaye.

“The school’s vision is based on students directing their own learning, and family-like relationships between the school and parents, whanau and the wider community, who are all heavily involved in school life and delivering the curriculum.

“An inner-city location is a big part of this vision, because it enables the school to make the most of the amenities and experiences that the city offers.

“I’ve seen the designs for the new facilities and it’s obvious this is going to be an awesome learning environment.

“The new school will be four storeys high, designed around a central atrium, and will feature a range of flexible learning spaces and more specialised areas, including balconies for outdoor learning, a virtual conferencing room, music and recording studios, a digital design workshop, reading lounges and a café and performance space.”

Construction of the new school is expected to take around two years to complete.

“Christchurch is seeing some incredible new schools take shape. Already this year, we’ve seen the fantastic new learning facilities at Lemonwood Grove School and the Haeata Community Campus officially opened. The new Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery school will be another jewel in the local education network,” says Ms Kaye.

“All of these projects are part of the $1.137 billion Christchurch School Rebuild programme, a huge undertaking which will see 115 schools rebuilt or renewed by 2022.

“So far, 11 schools have been completed, 25 are under construction and 25 will see construction start this year.

“Today is a big day for Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery. They’ve been very patient while the right site was secured, so to see the construction phase begin represents a huge milestone for the school and its wider community.”

Image of new Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery school

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