By: Zoe Hunter
Schools in Papamoa will soon be bursting at the seams as the area’s population continues to soar.
Figures from the Ministry of Education show a huge increase in Papamoa school rolls from July 2016 to 2017, with enrolments increasing into the new year.
Golden Sands School jumped from 455 in 2016 to 499 last year, and the primary school already had an extra 139 pupils enrolled before school started for 2018.
Papamoa Primary School’s roll increased from 509 in 2016 to 525 in 2017.
Tahatai Coast School’s roll increased from 582 in 2016 to 610 in 2017 and Te Akau Ki Papamoa Primary School had grown from 565 in 2016 to 609 in 2017.
Papamoa College’s roll increased from 648 in 2016 to 727 in 2017 and already had 840 senior students on its roll for 2018.
Te Akau Ki Papamoa School principal Bruce Jepsen believed Papamoa school rolls would continue to increase and more schools would be needed to cope with the growth.
“Papamoa schools such as Te Akau Ki, Golden Sands, Tahatai Coast, will reach capacity in the not-too-distant future.”
Jepsen said his school’s roll had more than doubled in the 10 years he had been its principal, which was positive.
“At its lowest, it was just scraping 300, now it is around 700,” he said.
Tahatai Coast School principal Matthew Skilton said the school would be under pressure if numbers continued to grow so quickly.
“We have a really heavy junior end,” Skilton said. “Our finishing roll was 750 last year … we wouldn’t want to get to 850 or we wouldn’t have space.”
The school had between 130 and 135 Year 1 pupils, he said. “If that was over 135 kids in every year level we would be stuck.”
Skilton said many young families were moving to the area.
“A high concentration of elderly were moving into retirement homes and young families were snapping up the properties or they were being rented,” he said.
Priority One chief Nigel Tutt expected Papamoa’s population to increase.
“We are seeing a trend of people, particularly from Auckland, seeing this as a better place to live,” he said.
“Houses are more affordable and there is a really strong local economy with lots of work and lifestyle opportunities and I think the combination of those is attractive to a lot of people.”
The Ministry of Education was working with the Tauranga City Council on a site designation for a new primary school at Te Okuroa Dr in Papamoa.
The ministry’s acting head of education infrastructure service, Andrew Hutchinson, said once that process was complete, a project timeline would be established.
“The new school will be built for an initial roll of 400, with scope for further expansion.”
A new primary school in Pyes Pa with an initial roll of 400 was also planned for 2019.
The ministry confirmed seven new school buildings in Tauranga and Western Bay were planned for this year.
Matua School would get three new buildings and Maungatapu School and Welcome Bay School would get two each.
Tauranga City councillor for Papamoa and Mount Maunganui Steve Morris hoped the new Government recognised Papamoa’s increasing population and was proactive in building new schools in the area to accommodate demand.
Morris said Papamoa’s population had rapidly increased in the 30 years he had lived in the area.
“Parents want their kids to enjoy the beach and outdoor lifestyle they did as kids and Papamoa is suited to that.”
How cool is your school?
Papamoa mum Rebecca Thompson said her eldest of four children attended Golden Sands School and her youngest three went to the nearby daycare.
Thompson said she chose to send her 7-year-old son to Golden Sands School because they were inside the school zone and the nearby daycare was an attraction.
“The kids all ride their bikes to school [and daycare] and it takes them about 10 to 15 minutes.”
Thompson said the school’s roll had increased since her son started there two years ago.
“When we first started we knew most of the other parents, now there are lots of new faces but that is all part of it.”
Thompson said the growing roll was not a concern. “In an ideal world it would be nice to have small numbers, but the school deals with it really well,” she said.
“They still keep the tight-knit community feel about it. We are definitely happy there.”
Another Papamoa mother-of-four, who did not wish to be named, said she would move to Pukehina and Pongakawa to enrol her children in a smaller school.
Two of her four children were enrolled in a Papamoa school, but the school’s roll had expanded and she was now looking at sending her children elsewhere.
“We are happy with the school but it is now too big. I think they will have more opportunities in a smaller school,” she said.
How many Papamoa students?
Papamoa Primary School: 509-525
Golden Sands School: 455-499
Tahatai Coast School: 582-610
Te Akau Ki Papamoa Primary School: 565-609
Papamoa College 648-727
Source: Ministry of Education
Source: Bay of Plenty Times