Rt Hon Bill English
I have spent a bit of time in Christchurch since the beginning of the year – most recently to open the new Haeata Community Campus, alongside Education Minister Hekia Parata.
This was a major milestone for Christchurch, and for Christchurch’s eastern suburbs which were some of the worst affected by the earthquakes.
Change hasn’t been easy. I remember the outcry when the Government decided to merge four schools into one on the old Aranui High School site. It was not a popular decision. So it was a pleasure to attend the opening of the new school with Minister Parata and be told by one familiar face that he never used to trust the Government, but now he did.
It was equally pleasing to see the delight and excitement on the faces of students, staff and the local community. Haeata Community Campus is a school that any community in the country would be proud of. Its facilities include a wood and metal workshop, a full commercial kitchen, a gym and weights room, and a 650-seat theatre with retractable seating.
The 2,000 or so people at the open day were clearly thrilled that something so good had happened in a community that had been through so much.
Haeata is just one part of the Government’s enormous $1.1 billion investment in the Christchurch Schools Rebuild programme.
Another new school has recently been announced in Canterbury. Lincoln South School will open in 2019 and will be a full primary school with students up to Year 8. Stage one of the $14 million project will cater for 450 students and with a final roll of 700, it will help ease the pressure on Lincoln Primary School.
Since the earthquakes we have built 10 new schools in the greater Christchurch region with space for more than 6,500 Cantabrians.
We need to cater for growth, but we’re also ensuring young people right across New Zealand have the best possible learning environments by committing $5 billion to new schools, classrooms and school redevelopments.
At $11 billion, investment in education is the highest ever. It has increased 35 percent since 2008 while student numbers have increased just 3.6 percent.
As well as the strides we’re taking in education, we’re committed to ensuring Cantabrians receive the health services they need. Canterbury health has had $106 million in additional funding and we’re continuing to fund the All Right? wellbeing campaign.
Six years on it is encouraging to see so much progress being made in Canterbury and I am happy to reaffirm the Government’s support for the region.