Flood risk management project

This directory page provides information on plans to mitigate the risk of flooding at high-risk schools around the country.

Level of compliance Main audience Other

Inform

  • Boards
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Property Managers
  • Caretakers

Overview

The Ministry of Education oversees more than 2500 schools across the country, and many are near the coast or inland waterways. That means they are potentially at risk from flooding and erosion.

We want to have a better understanding of these flooding and erosion risks and how they may change in the future.

Climate change increases these risks. It’s difficult to predict the precise impact climate has on sea level rise and on storm events and when they may happen.

This uncertainty means we need to be prepared with options for several different scenarios for schools that are at highest risk from climate change.

Scope expansion

This flood risk management project started as a desktop analysis of low-lying school sites potentially at risk from coastal flooding due to sea level rise.  Below, we outline some of the progress this first tranche of work has made. This flood risk management project started as a desktop analysis of low-lying school sites potentially at risk from coastal flooding due to sea level rise.  Below, we outline some of the progress this first tranche of work has made. 

Beginning in September 2022, the project broadened and is now also exploring the risks of flooding for schools in areas away from the coast. This expanded scope aims to include schools potentially at risk of flooding from rivers and other waterways, as well as schools subject to erosion effects of water, either at the coast or inland.

The goal of this broader project is to develop a management approach for all schools facing flooding and erosion challenges.

First tranche (coastal flood risk)

The project initially used existing data from a variety of sources and some historic flooding information to establish that 103 schools – 50 in the South Island and 53 in the North Island – might be at risk from coastal flooding. 

Note: Our first draft analysis generated a list of 111 schools. Eight (8) of those schools were subsequently removed from the list when further information found sea level rise an unlikely risk at those locations.

Extreme sea levels (due to storms or high winds) could have an impact on 48 of the 103 schools on the list, without allowing for climate change or sea level rise. If the sea level rises less than one metre, a further 22 of these schools may be impacted by coastal flooding. The remaining 33 schools may experience coastal flooding if sea levels rise by more than one metre.

View the list of 103 schools [PDF, 146 KB] identified by the programme. For further information, please contact the project team at Floodrisk.Management@education.govt.nz.

We began the coastal flooding part of the project by conducting a pilot study. In September 2022, we made on-site assessments at five schools in Wellington and five schools on the West Coast of the South Island. The ten-school selection gave our survey teams a variety of school settings, a combination of open coast and harbour locations, and a mix of school sizes. 

The information gathered is being used to develop and test our assessment methodology and advise on mitigation options for all 103 schools we’ve identified as potentially at-risk from coastal flooding.

Next steps

The project team is currently reviewing site assessments made at the ten pilot schools. A summary of findings will be posted here in due course.

Pilot study schools

North Island (Wellington)

  • Muritai School
  • Paremata School
  • Evans Bay Intermediate School
  • Seatoun School
  • Randwick School

South Island (West Coast)

  • Granity School
  • Paroa School, Greymouth
  • Blaketown School, Greymouth
  • Karamea Area School
  • Haast School

When we visited these ten schools, we looked for these details:

  • the school’s elevation above sea level
  • the levels of main building floors
  • any structures built to prevent flooding
  • any evidence of, or anecdotes about, previous flooding
  • location of critical infrastructure (power, heating, data storage)
  • school access, such as key bus routes and access roads.   

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