Posted by Ruth Woodward
Students from five Western Bay schools are putting on their thinking caps to come up with ideas for the new Omokoroa Domain playground planned by Western Bay of Plenty District Council in partnership with local tangata whenua.
The new playground is part of a revamp of the Omokoroa Domain and Esplanade being undertaken over the next three years. The existing playground is old and the equipment outdated.
The project concept aims to create a destination playground within the large open space of the Domain. Construction of the playground is expected to start later this year.
Council’s playground project team is visiting Omokoroa No 1, Omokoroa Point, Pahoia, Whakamarama and Te Puna schools to give students and their teachers some pointers on themes and ideas they may wish to explore for the playground.
Students have been given work sheets to provide inspiration for their ideas and they will complete their project during Term Two. Each school will be sharing students’ ideas at a community event in Omokoroa in July where their work can be showcased.
Project landscape architect Tim Lander, LOAM Landscape Architects, says it is important to get the `child’s view’ of what playground design could achieve.
“The children are the experts in playgrounds – we want to tap into their imagination and encourage them to use their minds to come up with ideas that relate to the Domain’s environment, its unique Māori history, its European history, its seaside location and how all these themes can reflect in their play,” says Tim.
“Playgrounds hold many opportunities for learning and offer challenges for all ages and abilities. Greater awareness of the playground setting and its connections with nature are essential aspects to weave into fun and imaginative play experiences.”
The five schools – all between Apata and Te Puna West – were chosen because they are within the traditional mana whenua rohe of the Pirirākau Hapu.
Julie Shepherd from Pirirākau says it is important the schools and their local community are aware of who the local tangata whenua are.
“We wish to share with the students some of the historical events and stories that are significant and special to Pirirākau. Through Council’s Community Engagement Team and Pirirākau we will work on building relationships and sharing information.”
The Omokoroa Domain concept plan aims to find a balance between retaining the seaside and natural foreshore character while making sure the area caters for growth and multiple use. Tangata whenua will have their identity recognised through cultural interpretation within the design elements of the Domain development.