State of play

Central Leader - - News -

By Janie Smith When it comes to play­grounds, newer is not nec­es­sar­ily bet­ter.

Auck­land city’s play­grounds are be­ing pro­gres­sively up­graded to more mod­ern equip­ment.

So the Auck­land City Har­bour News sent out three ex­perts to test one of the best and one of the worst, and give their ver­dict on which was the most fun.

Six-year-old Jemma Ox­en­ham, her sis­ter Holly, 3, and four-year-old Liam McCracken in­spected Har­butt play- ground in Mt Al­bert and Pt Che­va­lier’s Coyle Park play­ground.

Har­butt has the high­est rat­ing from the Auck­land City Coun­cil and Coyle Park the low­est.

But our panel picked older Coyle Park play­ground as a clear favourite.

Holly im­me­di­ately found a flaw in Har­butt play­ground with the lack of pub­lic toi­lets.

Search­ing the lo­cal area for a suit­able fa­cil­ity cut into valu­able play­time, but Har­butt had some re­deem­ing fea­tures.

“The slides go very fast,” says Liam. “I like the big slide be­cause it goes the fastest.”

The climb­ing wall was also a hit with Liam and Jemma, but Liam pointed out there were only two swings.

Holly en­joyed the merry-go-round and the wob­bly bridge was given a thumbs-up by all three ex­perts.

“They should add a see-saw,” says Jemma.

But Coyle Park play­ground im­pressed with its greater size and ex­tra swings.

“It’s big­ger and there are more fun things,” says Jemma.

The see-saw, which can be op­er­ated by one per­son, was a favourite with Liam, who also tried out the tun­nel slide.

“I like this slide bet­ter than the other slides,” he says.

A new layer of bark had raised the ground level, mak­ing equip­ment like the wob­bly bridge less en­joy­able, but the fire­man’s pole was still high enough to slide down.

Coyle Park was a clear favourite with the girls, but Liam was equally im­pressed with both fa­cil­i­ties.

The Auck­land City Coun­cil rates its play­grounds from level one, be­ing in ex­cel­lent con­di­tion, to a level five, which is near­ing the end of its life and needs re­plac­ing.

Auck­land has 10 level five play­grounds.

Play­grounds in Celtic Re­serve in Eller­slie, Surf­dale Re­serve on Wai­heke and Moira Re­serve in Pon­sonby are due to be up­graded in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year.

Swings rated level four at the An­der­son Park, Fearon Park and Robin­son Re­serve play­grounds will also be re­placed.

Park ser­vices man­ager Mark Bowa­ter says $240,000 has been al­lo­cated for the up­grades and $300,000 was spent on play­grounds last fi­nan­cial year.

He says the coun­cil is al­ways looking for new equip­ment and play mod­ules to bring in.

When a new play­ground is de­signed the coun­cil tries to get feed­back from chil­dren in the area about what they would like.

“We’re in dis­cus­sion with sup­pli­ers about po­ten­tial new pieces.”

Pho­tos JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Su­per saw: Liam McCracken plays on the Coyle Park see-saw.

Favourite equip­ment: Holly Ox­en­ham, 3, takes the merry-go-round for a spin at Har­butt.

Speed wob­ble: Liam McCracken, 4, on the Har­butt play­ground wob­bly bridge.

All to­gether: From left: Jemma Ox­en­ham, Liam McCracken and Holly Ox­en­ham go for a swing at Coyle Park.

Hang­ing around: Liam McCracken en­joys the Coyle Park climb­ing frame.

Fast ride: Jemma Ox­en­ham, 6, tries out the slide at Har­butt play­ground.

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