National | Education

Maōri design integral to largest playground in southern hemisphere

An enormous $5.5 million playground to be built on a culturally significant and historic location on New Plymouth's foreshore, will be one of the largest in the southern hemisphere – and it caters for ages young and old.

Dubbed ‘Destination Play’, the facility, at Kāwaroa Park, is designed to be a "regional destination" where construction will begin early next year.

The playground will cover an estimated 22,000 square metres, filled with water features, an outdoor classroom, fitness equipment and a Maramataka feature that highlights the Māori lunar calendar.

The project is being led by the Taranaki Foundation in partnership with New Plymouth District Council and Ngāti Te Whiti, which has mana whenua over the land.

The remaining funds are now being generated through philanthropic gifts, sponsorship, and in-kind contributions from individuals, organisations, funders, and trusts. To date, 65 percent of the project's total cost has been secured.

Ngāti Te Whiti hapū chair Julie Healey says the area, though important to Māori, has been a playground and many things before.

“The playground has been upgraded through the times with the odd pirate ship, those sorts of things, but nothing Māori. So this is a good opportunity for Ngāti Te Whiti to have designs woven into this playground.”

Not only are Healey and everyone involved hoping to get people from across the motu back to the region to support the local economy, they’re hoping it will be an educational tool as well.