Macleans May Actually Let Us Walk On Grass

Endless construction work is a fact of Macleans College life. MCNC interviewed Associate Principal Mr. Peek to find out more about the ongoing construction at the school.

Mr. Peek, as Property Manager at Macleans College, oversees all property and construction projects that take place on the sprawling school campus, a site totaling 18,000 square meters of area (the same as 90 four-bedroom houses!) For him, 2015 has already been a hectic year; he has looked after the rebuild of Te Kanawa and the construction of our brand new artificial turf. More exciting times lie ahead as progress is set to begin on Upham, toilet blocks, shelters and walkways. This will be followed by renovating Mansfield and the technology block.

Macleans is a victim of “leaky building syndrome” in New Zealand, and an almost complete rebuild of the school is necessary to prevent widespread structural failure. We are not only the first New Zealand school discovered to have leaky buildings, but also the worst affected school in the country. Mr Peek puts this down to  “defective” building designs and the use of faulty materials in construction. Many other schools were built over time and thus only have a few affected buildings; however, we are not so lucky. Almost every building has been affected.

The main part of reconstruction has been rebuilding the houses. Five houses have been rebuilt since work began on Batten in 2010, and the final works on Te Kanawa are now being completed. Mr. Peek expects that Te Kanawa will return to its new home in the next few weeks. Next up is Upham House, which should be brand new by early next year. This will leave just Mansfield, poor Mansfield! It was originally a temporary building, but has aged well and is now over 30 years old! Fear not, Mansfield will be completely demolished and turned sparkling new.

The new artificial turf is also expected to be ready soon. Mr. Peek says that the turf is one of the best quality turfs possible and will meet FIFA and World Rugby standards. The artificial turf is being built by the same company that built William Green Domain but it will have a shock pad underneath it which allows for both rugby and soccer use. It will be World Rugby certified, using a test that involves dropping a simulated (electronic, don’t worry!) human head from 1.5m and measuring the impact. A FIFA test will also be carried out, which involves evaluating the movement of a soccer ball along the surface.

The final major set of classrooms to be replaced will be the Science, Technology and Home Economics block. This project is a significant undertaking as it will combine the three currently separate blocks into one building, built in stages to ensure the old buildings can continue to operate while the new ones are constructed. The new block will be designed as a modern learning environment with a commons-type space. The science labs will be more flexible, with moveable furniture so classrooms can be used for individual and collaborative group work.

Mr. Peek says that students can also look forward to a rebuild of all the toilet blocks in the school. He intends that the bathrooms will be fitted out with modern toilet and basin systems. Meanwhile, the school are installing temporary bathrooms–high-standard ones built for the Christchurch earthquake–outside the auditorium which will be properly landscaped with paved paths and a deck built.

Another focus for the school is to improve the walkways. A new look for the footpath and garden from Rutherford to the staffroom can already be seen, and the areas linking Hillary, Te Kanawa and Snell will be upgraded next. Macleans also plans to put artificial grass on the internal areas of the school. Mr. Peek says that students may even be allowed to walk on the (artificial) grass, for once!

While the ministry does fund the bulk of the costs of rebuilding, Mr Peek says that it is only enough to deliver the basics, and that the school board pays more to ensure high quality facilities. He believes that this extra investment will ensure that future generations of Macleans students will be very, very well off.

Written by: Zachary Wong. Edited by: Saffron Huang.

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