New gym and classroom block “a triumph”2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Onehunga High School principal, Deidre Shea, described the school’s newly-completed gym and classroom block to be a triumph, at the official opening ceremony for both buildings in June.
The ceremony itself was low-key, acknowledging the fact that the buildings were already in full operation, but all who attended were impressed by the quality of the facilities. Deidre paid tribute to all the people who had worked so hard over many years, especially associate principal, Gareth Leadbeater, who had been the liaison between the contractors, Ignite Architects, Beca and Naylor Love, as well as the Ministry of Education.
The new classroom block has been named Te Kupenga Wānanga after consultation with students, teachers and the community. The name has multiple meanings which can be interpreted as either the house of knowledge or the basket/fishing net of knowledge.
The new gym, looking out over the sports field, is large enough for two basketball courts and full school assemblies; the week before the opening, the first full school assembly was held in possibly 50 years. None of the current or former staff there could recall ever having a full indoor assembly, and it’s believed the last time may have been in the 1960’s.
The new classroom block means that for the first time in its existence, OHS has purpose- built, state-of-the art facilities rather than converted classrooms for technical subjects, including the building school, the catering school, science labs and art school..
Former pupil Bruce Aitken who attended OHS said he remembered how excited they had been when the old gym had been opened, but that had nothing on the amazing facilities the modern pupils now have. “If it inspires them to greater things then will have been well worth the cost,” he says.
There was also a local link in the construction, with the Project Leader for Ignite, Leandri Hay, living within walking distance of the school, which she says made site visits very easy. She admitted that she had got “goosebumps” the first time she stood in the completed building as the school bell rang and she watched all the students walking through the building to and from classes.
The redevelopment of the school is not finished, with the dilapidated original classroom block currently being demolished. The area will be landscaped and a new student café built. However the biggest job is now complete and the school is focused on the future.