24 Apr 2018

Row in eastern Christchurch over proposed school zone changes

From Checkpoint, 5:25 pm on 24 April 2018

A stoush is brewing in eastern Christchurch over a proposed zone change for two of the city's major high schools.

The Ministry of Education is rebuilding Shirley Boys School and Avonside Girls School on the old QE2 stadium site, much further north than their current locations.

The new schools would keep the names Shirley Boys and Avonside Girls but the government wants to change their zones, leaving some families in some areas around Shirley and Avonside feeling betrayed.

Christchurch teacher and mother-of-two Vanessa Ban Hoof lived in Dallington, well inside both Shirley Boys and Avonside Girls current zone.

At four and five years old, her kids were well off high school years, however given both schools reputation her family bought in the area so her kids could attend either school.

However, her Dallington house was well out of the proposed new zoning, and now she was fighting to have it brought back in. 

"I've been up making posters and signs, doing pamphlet drops, I've had a lot of sleepless nights to be honest because we don't want our kids to lose access to the secondary schools we bought in the area for," she said.

"We don't want to have to shift house to get into those schools again."

She said a petition on the issue had already gathered more than 500 signatures.

Ms Ban Hoof said she would lose up to $90,000 if they have to sell their house and move.

"We would take a massive loss on this house...in my case I wouldn't have bought this house if it wasn't zoned for a good secondary school."

Don Gould was in a similar situation - his son was ten years old and currently attended Shirley Primary.

The plan was for him to attend Shirley Boys High School, but the proposed rezoning would take that opportunity away.

"What they have done is effectively create a new high school over in QE2 and closed ours," he said.

Don was also worried about the impact on the community, which he expected to change dramatically if the rezoning went ahead.

"We are not going to get that same variety of people coming into the area when they know there isn't a schooling opportunity."

Margaret Stewart had a son at Shirley Boys, and another at Shirley Intermediate.

She said the proposed rezoning was a slap in the face for an area that had suffered extensively from the earthquakes.

"We've been through enough with earthquakes, some of us haven't had our houses fixed yet, we've had other schools closed and our roads are crap...we don't need something else," she said.

"Don't throw us out."

The Minister of Education, Chris Hipkins refused to be interviewed for this story, instead saying in a statement he was listening to the concerns of any families who could be affected by any changes to zones.

"But we also need to respect the consultation process and can't pre-empt that," he said in the statement.

Consultation on the proposed rezoning closes on Thursday.