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The education network in greater Christchurch is functioning, but it is NOT business as usual.

  • We have early childhood centres that have had to close permanently. Some are operating on suspended licences, others from temporary premises, and others are in red-zoned areas.
  • Two secondary and two primary schools continue to share sites, while another is on a borrowed site.
  • Physical damage to buildings and land has been significant: 207 of the 215 state and integrated schools in greater Christchurch were damaged to varying degrees.
Map: Repair/remediation cost estimates (PDF; 205kb)
  • Independent schools also suffered.
  • Buildings at Christchurch-based tertiary education institutions have had to be demolished and others vacated pending costly repairs or demolition.
  • In some cases the cost of repairs will be relatively modest, but in others, it may be anything from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars.
  • Rapid structural assessments have been undertaken after each event and any at-risk buildings isolated.
  • Detailed Engineering Evaluations (DEEs), which include geotechnical investigations, are underway on all of our buildings – just under 3,000 of them – to assess their ability to withstand future events. This is a huge programme of work that will take up to 18 months to complete.
  • DEE’s are designed to assess future performance and inform a programme of strengthening, if required.
  • Even prior to the earthquakes, many school buildings across greater Christchurch were aged, and not fully weathertight.
  • We have a significant programme of earthquake repairs to complete and pre-earthquake weather tightness issues to address.
  • Some of our buildings are also not well suited to modern teaching and learning practices. Many are not designed with physically disabled learners in mind.
  • We need to consider all these factors as we look to shaping a future network.


Damage to buildings is just one piece of the puzzle.

  • All school sites in greater Christchurch will need to undergo a desktop geotechnical study as part of a Detailed Engineering Evaluations (DEE’s) required by CERA (Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority).
  • Desktop studies bring together all known data available.
  • The geotechnical reports will provide information on:
    • the behaviour of earth materials
    • where a site can be built on
    • the sort of foundations that would be required
    • what can be expected in other events.
Map: Geotechnical investigations – April 2012 (PDF; 255kb)
  • Geotechnical studies have so far been completed or are currently underway on 57 school sites.
  • Of these, eight are full site investigations, involving the drilling of bore holes and cone penetration testing.
  • Cliff collapse as a result of the earthquakes has also affected school sites in the Port Hills and Redcliffs in particular
  • Historically these cliff areas have been relatively stable, but on February 22nd 2011 and 13 June 2011 shaking generated by active faults directly below the Port Hills caused widespread collapse.
  • Material falling as a result of cliff collapse can be life-threatening, as can collapse of the ground behind the cliff top.
  • We also need more information around cliff face collapse hazards – information being collated by other agencies.
  • This information, along with geotechnical reports, building condition, and population shifts will inform long term decision making. These decisions will have very significant financial implications
  • Note: Sites outside of greater Christchurch only require geotechnical investigation as part of any redevelopment.


Large numbers of families have been forced to relocate either temporarily or permanently as a result of the earthquakes.

The movement out of the east of Christchurch has been particularly pronounced with many of those families resettling on the outer perimeter of the city and surrounding districts, expanding demand there and providing the impetus for Greenfield housing developments.

At this stage it is difficult to tell how many families have moved permanently, but it is clear some will be unable to return to the red-zoned areas they have left.

Several schools, caught in this flux, are likely to have to downsize significantly; some may not be viable in the longer term.

It is important to note roll change is not restricted to any particular area – where rolls are declining in some parts they are increasing in others, faster than anticipated.

Renewal is about education provision across all of greater Christchurch.

Map: Roll changes by sub-area: Mar 2010 – Mar 2012 (PDF; 136kb)

What we know:

  • As of February 2012, 5,400 fewer students were enrolled in greater Christchurch schools than at the same time the previous year.
  • A further 1,700 students had re-enrolled at another school.
  • 25 schools had more than 20 or more students in red zones; of these 15 schools had 30 or more students in red zones.
  • In all, there were approximately 1,076 students living in red zones and a further 631 living in orange or white zones.
  • In 2011 domestic enrolments in tertiary education were down by 14% on the previous year; international enrolments were down by 31%.
  • In the year to July 2011, enrolments in early childhood education decreased by 1,125, of which 85 were Māori children and 60 were Pasifika children.
  • There appears to be continuing risk of participation for families in the east of the city where there are higher concentrations Māori families and Pasifika families.
  • It is expected an influx of workers will put further pressure on ECE services once rebuilding work begins in earnest.
  • The earthquakes have had a huge and continuing impact on the wellbeing of children, young people, school staff, families and the wider community.
  • The situation has placed immense additional demands on school leaders. Many have been personally affected and continue to cope with uncertainty concerning their own homes and future work.
  • The lives of teaching and support staff have been equally disrupted, yet they too have made and continue to make an exceptional contribution to the welfare of the young people for whom they have responsibility.

Network renewal

Given the extent of the damage and population movement, the network of provision that existed pre-September 2010 cannot be returned to the way it was.

This is because the earthquakes have so disrupted communities that schools and early childhood centres may no longer necessarily be where they are or needed.

We need to accept that in areas that have been depopulated we will have to do things differently.

Conversely, other areas in the city and surrounding districts are seeing significant, even dramatic growth. Prior to the earthquakes, none of these areas would have expected to grow so fast or so soon.

The total cost of renewing schooling will depend on the mix of options taken and these, in turn, need to take account of property issues, including earthquake damage, strengthening, and pre-existing issues, as well as network considerations that deal with population and demographic changes resulting from the earthquakes.

Map: Greater Christchurch school roll change: Mar 2008 – Mar 2010 (PDF; 223kb) Map: Greater Christchurch school roll change: Mar 2010 – Mar 2012 (PDF; 136kb)

With existing capacity already underutilised and changing demographics as families leave or move across greater Christchurch in the wake of the earthquakes, it is estimated there will be up to 10,000 more learner places in schools than is required.

We will need to consider the viability and sustainability of individual schools.

Migration within the region is also expected to result in a requirement for new schools.

Given the extent of the changes needed, planning will need to focus on the network of provision, not on individual schools.

It will also need to put the learner at the centre.

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