Community Scoop
Network

Ministry Of Education To Teach NZ History But Appears To Ignore Its Own Built Heritage

Press Release – Southern Heritage Trust

The Southern Heritage Trust is urgently requesting further discussion among the Dunedin community and the Ministry of Education over the possible demolition of a nationally-important symbol of the story of state education in Aotearoa New Zealand. …

The Southern Heritage Trust is urgently requesting further discussion among the Dunedin community and the Ministry of Education over the possible demolition of a nationally-important symbol of the story of state education in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Trust says the Ministry and Arthur Street School board’s approved plans to build a new school do not include the Infants’ building on the site, built in 1887.

This is at odds with the Ardern Government’s 2019 pronouncement that NZ history is worthy enough to teach in our schools from 2022. The simple wooden school structure is a Category-2, Heritage New Zealand-listed historic place.

“Within the context of its location, the Infants’ building forms an important part of a historic precinct of New Zealand’s earliest schools, including Otago Boys and Otago Girls’ High Schools. Otago Girls is the first girls’ secondary school in NZ, and the primary school at Arthur St is the oldest in Dunedin, dating back to the 1840s.

“The Infants’ building is the oldest building on the historic school’s site. With the structure removed, the opportunity to showcase an almost-complete picture of the built history of our education system from primary to secondary will be lost and ultimately regretted,” says Trustee Ann Barsby.

Mrs Barsby adds:

“We were delighted when Jacinda Ardern announced last year that our national history is important enough to be taught to our children from Year 1. We have been told that from 2022, the teaching of history in schools will include the story of first contact and colonial development in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Aotearoa.

“ This is an amazing opportunity for Arthur St to hold history classes in a tangible historic classroom. Except, ironically, this historic asset has been ignored in new plans put forward so far. The Ministry, which is currently developing the curriculum for teaching New Zealand history, can do better. The history of education itself needs to be valued,” she says.

The School’s Heritage NZ listing also reflects its architectural merit as a surviving example of a typical wooden school building with original high-pitched slate roof in good condition.

The Trust notes that a public advertisement for the tender process provided no imperative for tenderers to incorporate the Infants’ building in the design, but believes that with an innovative approach, it is possible to include the building in a new, fit-for-purpose school.

“It’s just that the tenderers haven’t been asked to do this, which is making everyone wonder what they plan to do with the school – shift, or demolish it. That would be a massive loss to both Dunedin and New Zealand as a whole. I’m quite confident there are the design and architectural professionals in Dunedin that could make this work for Arthur Street,” she says.

“The Infants’ building needs to be retained on its present site and afforded the recognition and respect its heritage status deserves.”

The Trust strongly urges the Ministry of Education to further consult the wider community, staff and parents for the best result possible. Trustees will attend the school’s board meeting on November 2. They will also seek a meeting with the Ministry in the near future to formally table views.

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
Original url