By DAVID HILL
Danny Nicholls can’t wait for school to begin next year.
After being appointed in January as principal for Te Matauru Primary School – the new school in western Rangiora – Mr Nicholls has had a long wait while he watches it take shape on the corner of Johns Rd and Pentecost Rd.
He says the build, being managed by SouthBase, is on track to be completed for the official handover on January 14, ahead of the first school day on February 7.
“When I started it was just a grass field, so just to walk past most days and see it come together is very exciting.
“You don’t get to do this very often – it’s probably once in a lifetime.”
While he waits, Mr Nicholls and his staff, who now total eight, have been working out of the Huntington Shopping Centre in Arlington, Rangiora.
“It’s quite different. It’s certainly quieter than school life, but we do miss those daily interactions.
“There’s some nice things, like you get to eat your lunch without being interrupted, but you kind of feel like you should be where the children are and that’s why you want to be a teacher.”
Staff are busy with training, taking enrolments from nine different schools, and attending community meetings.
“We’re trying to connect with the schools and the families now so it’s not a chaotic transition.
“Most of them are from local primary schools and some are from more rural schools, and some are relocating to Rangiora because they’ve bought sections in this area.”
The new school is a significant development for Rangiora, being the first new state school built in the town in 52 years.
While the opening-day roll will be around 100, it is expected to grow as the neighbouring Townsend Fields subdivision grows.
The opening-day capacity will be 350, with stage two to take it to 600 pupils at a later date.
It will open with an administration block, a hall/ gymnasium, a senior block and junior block.
Separating the main blocks will be an outdoor sports court and sandpits, while an enviro area, with a vegetable garden and orchard, a scooter track, sports fields and a bike/walking track around the outside, are being developed.
Mr Nicholls is originally from Nelson and has taught at schools in the North Island, including as principal. For the last 10 years he has been employed by the Ministry of Education to support around 40 schools in the Bay of Plenty region.
“It was really rewarding, but in the end I wanted to be back in just one school and part of a community, and we wanted to come back to North Canterbury.” His wife, Jacinta, is originally from North Canterbury. They have two adult children and a 6-year-old daughter.