Huge rebuild proposed for Whangarei Boys’ High

In one of the largest-ever building projects at a New Zealand school, Whangarei Boys’ High School will undergo a $50m makeover.

The work on the Whangarei Boys’ High School project, part of an upgrade to education facilities in Northland, is expected to begin in 2019 and be completed in 2022.

School principal Karen Gilbert-Smith says better buildings will inspire the students. “People think boys don’t notice their surroundings and don’t care, but I think they do. They don’t complain but they note it.

“However, there’s fantastic camaraderie amongst the boys. It’s a big part of the culture. They talk about the “brotherhood”, and support from their mates, as being so important for them, so the state of their school buildings seems the least of their worries.

“They will definitely notice when everything is transformed. It will be inspirational and hopefully give them a love of learning in a modern environment – a huge leap forward, not just for the school, but for Northland too. We have to make sure this is a place that the boys want to come to. Continuing to focus on attendance means that we will make gains in achievement.”

There are 1,100 students at Whangarei Boys’, which opened 136 years ago, and the roll is growing.  

Tech, science and physical education are huge, says Ms Gilbert-Smith, and trades training is a popular choice for boys, some of whom board.

The upgrade is likely to include new food technology teaching facilities.  When the students were asked what they wanted to see included in the rebuild, the top choice was a food technology block.

Head boy Lance Baker says, “Lots of us want to learn cooking and the skills to get jobs in hospitality or tourism. That’s where the opportunities are.”

The school also provides horticultural and primary industries training as part of its trades training, and the upgrade is likely to help expand that option.

Exactly what the new facilities will include is yet to be determined as is whether a PPP (Public Private Partnership) will be used for the redevelopment.

A number of major Ministry of Education-led projects are underway across Northland. Recently, Northland College in Kaikohe opened its new school facilities after a complete rebuild.

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