Toroa's excess spending "much needed" say students

College redevelopments blown $580,000 over budget

Toroa College's upgrade and expansion has gone over budget by more than $580,000 due to an error in the estimated cost. $1.781 million was spent on Toroa's development between January and May, compared to its budget of $1.2 million. The upgrade and expansion was put towards the construction of 20 new bedrooms, which extends the hall’s total to 152.

New building standards have been a cause of the excess spending on Toroa. This was in conjunction with other renovations, which have been done to halls of residence, such as Carrington College and Aquinas College, which have had seismic strengthening for earthquake standards. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on residential colleges in Dunedin over the past few years.

Critic spoke to two former Toroa College residents about life in the hall prior to the renovations. The students welcomed the renovations, pointing out that both space and interaction among those living (or not) in the hall was an issue. “It wasn't big enough for everyone. There was a guy that died and they didn't even have enough space for everyone to be in that same room to have a meeting about it,” said one of the past residents. The common room was deemed inadequate by the students, as was the one television shared between all the residents.

Toroa is widely known as having a large portion of international students living at the hall. The former Toroa residents Critic talked to said there were about 20 international students while they were there. The rest came from New Zealand and segregation between the students was obvious. However, the students felt the renovations at Toroa would help the students bond together better.

The Director of Accommodation Services James Lindsay spoke to the Otago Daily Times about the importance of Toroa's developments. ''It is the single biggest and best development at the college since it started 18 years ago,'' he said. Toroa's upgrade includes a large common room named “Manawa,” meaning “heart.”

"[Manawa] is already a popular place for Toroa residents to study, relax and develop lifelong friendships."

3,352 students lived in the University residential colleges in 2013 and there has also been an increase in first-year students over the past year. Renovations and the opening of the 15th residential college, Te Rangi Hiroa, have been implemented this year to accommodate for the rise.
This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2014.
Posted 9:16pm Sunday 10th August 2014 by Anna Whyte.