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Schools vital first part of new infrastructure plan

Opinion Piece

This past weekend our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the largest capital investment into school maintenance funding in 25 years at the Labour Party annual conference in Whanganui. Nearly $400m is set to go to almost every cormer of our country.

Eligible schools will receive a maximum of $400,000, and none will receive less than $50,000. The funding is based on roll size and works out to around $693 per student. For most schools this will represent an average funding increase of 40 percent over a five-year period.

The East Coast electorate is the biggest winner of all. We are set to receive $12,356,506 across our many state schools to be spent in the next 24 months. I have the pleasure of visiting many of these schools set to benefit, and I cannot think of a more deserving region to be at the forefront of this investment policy. There is a significant need of money across the board to fix roofs, upgrade equipment, and catch up on maintenance that was forced to be deferred due to budgetary restraints. Many will agree that it is sorely needed.

Our schools are the beating hearts of our communities. They deserve to be warm, dry and up to code in case of a major earthquake. Every school in the country has faced significant hardship and underinvestment, particularly through the nine long years of the National government.

This is not just about rebuilding our schools — it is also an opportunity for work in nearly every single town in New Zealand. We want schools to engage local builders, plumbers, carpenters, roofers, landscapers — this policy is about schools and jobs and above all, community.

This is just the first announcement of our new infrastructure investment plan, but it is an incredibly important one. I am proud to say I am part of a Government that has a focus on wellbeing, and one which has the interests of children in particular at the front and centre of its policies.

We are rebuilding New Zealand, starting with our school communities.

We are doing this.

Kiri Allan

Labour List MP based in the East Coast electorate