A new school playground at Tahatai Coast School has been a big hit with students and the wider Papamoa community, thanks to significant student input and funding from TECT.
The playground, which was completed in December 2020, features slides, poles, balance ropes, surfboard spring rockers, rock walls, nets, basket swings and more.
Matt Skilton, Tahatai Coast School Principal, says the project started with initial designs which were then discussed with student councillors.
“The student councillors took the designs back to their respective classes and asked for feedback. We changed the design of the playground based on this student voice. The playground increased possibly as much as a third from the original design with the suggested equipment children wanted.
“One of the biggest things that came from it was that they wanted swings. As we included all voices, one of the things we found was that for our special needs student, that sensation of being on a swing is a really good feeling for them and a nice safe way of incorporating them into that space of play, so we really liked that.
“I was a bit apprehensive at first about swings with the movement and people getting hit by them, but students came up with the solutions of having the boxing around them, cushioned matting underneath, and they also came up with the rules and systems of use.
“Another cool feature students came up with was having the surfboards. They are a play on where we are situated, and as a part of our curriculum with our surf club, it was a creative way for students to tie that into the design.”
Matt says the playground, which was designed and installed by Playground Creations, was needed due to increasing student numbers and lack of play areas for the community to use.
“With a substantial roll increase, we did not have enough play equipment for the children in school to play on. It was also sorely needed because where we are geographically located, we don’t have a lot of resources immediately around us.
“The Western end of Papamoa has experienced significant and rapid demographical change, with the elderly moving out into rest homes and retirement villages and younger families moving into the area.
“Tahatai Coast School is committed to being an open and welcoming facility for the whole community, and we view our school as a community hub. The playground is located where it is clearly visible from the road, so it is easily accessible by all. This new adventure playground adds to the wide range of activity facilities already available on our grounds.”
Those outdoor facilities cater for a wide range of sports and play, including grassed playing fields, a scooter track, cycle track, tennis and netball courts, two basketball courts, a beach volleyball court, two adventure playgrounds, and a sandpit.
The school also has a number of future development plans, including a hall refurbishment project which will see local clubs able to use the facility, a mini-putt area, a water play area, and a community garden.
TECT supported the new playground with $29,000 in funding, approved in December last year.
Matt says the funding allowed the school to produce a playground at a scale suited to the community.
“We are a school of over 800 kids, so to have volume in activity products is really important to us – it means the children are waiting less and are more active during those break times. Outside of school time, there’s a lot more equipment to share.
“TECT really got us over the line. There was some playground equipment we may not have been able to afford, such as the swings, which would have been a luxury. TECT helped us achieve the things that the children ultimately wanted and challenged us on.”
TECT Trustee Peter Blackwell says playgrounds are an important community asset.
“Playgrounds are a place we all loved as kids – they’re not only fun but are also incredibly important for children’s physical, mental, social, and emotional development. They are a community asset that should be readily available to use by everyone, so it’s fantastic to see the school took this into consideration with its placement on the school grounds.
“We’re pleased we could play our part in making this project a reality, one that brought to life the ideas and imagination of the children that will use it.”
To learn more about Tahatai Coast School, visit https://www.tahatai.school.nz/.