Kidsfirst Kindergarten

 Kidsfirst Kindy outdoor deck area  Kidsfirst Kindy   Kidsfirst


When the 7.2 magnitude Christchurch earthquake struck in September 2010, Kidsfirst Charles Street Kindergarten found they were without accommodation.

Based for 60 years in the War Memorial building in Kaiapoi, one of the worst affected areas 30 minutes North of Christchurch, the kindergarten was told the building was to be demolished and a decision by the Council to re-build would take some time.

With more than 45 pre-schoolers to house, and no other local centre available to absorb the children, the Ministry of Education had to find safe, alternative facilities right away.

The kindergarten temporarily moved into the Kaiapoi Rugby Football clubrooms until just three months later when the February 2011 earthquake struck and damaged this building too.

Many homes in Kaiapoi have been zoned ‘red’, and with much uncertainty over where the displaced families will go, the Ministry of Education required an early childhood building that could be relocated if the demand for care shifted.


With an established reputation for providing quality temporary build solutions across Christchurch since the earthquakes, the Portacom team was approached. Within just 10 weeks of receiving resource and building consent from the council, a new purpose-built, relocatable early childhood education building, that met all of the New Zealand education regulations, was designed and erected by Portacom in partnership with the Ministry of Education.

The 430sqm building was constructed in Portacoms’ Hornby factory in four pieces. The building modules were then transported to its new home at the Kaiapoi Domain where the building was placed on its foundations and completed.

The Portacom on-site team had prepared the new location, ensuring the foundations, site connections, storm water, and drainage was all functioning for when the building arrived and placed onto its wooden piles.

Phil Botting, Portacom South Island Manager said: ‘As we manage all the site prep, all the necessary pre-planning is done by the time the building arrives ready for set up - this reduces the time involved and any potential headaches.’

The last of the four pieces was being tied down onto the piles on the 13th of June 2011 when a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit, severely damaging adjacent buildings. True to its claim, the Portacom building held fast and the team went on to complete the exterior and interior with its custom made fixtures and fittings.


Renamed Kaiapoi North to fit with their new location close to the domain, the new Kidsfirst Kindergarten building was officially re-opened on the 12th September 2011.

‘The children and staff are thrilled with the new building which has created a perfect kindergarten setting, it has such a feeling of space indoors.’ says Sherryll Wilson, CEO of Kidsfirst Kindergartens.

‘What impressed me was the quality design and finish, and the small things that the Portacom team fitted throughout – you wouldn’t believe that it is in fact, a transportable building.’

Wilson says ‘The Portacom team were so easy to work with, nothing was too much trouble. I have since contacted Phil and the team to advise on solutions for other Kidsfirst Kindergartens that have been damaged as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes.’

The Ministry of Education are also pleased with the outcome. The Portacom building offers a high quality solution to a permanent build. However, the advantage with this relocatable build was resource and building consent was approved very quickly, the build speedier, and the cost lower. And having the flexibility to transport the building helps the Ministry to address capacity issues and changing demand in early childhood education in the future.

The Ministry of Education has since worked with Portacom on two more relocatable, purpose-built early childhood education centres in Christchurch - North Beach Community Childcare Centre and Sydenham Community Preschool.