Water walls for North Harbour playcentres
When North Harbour Rotary member David Hutcheson saw a story in his local paper about an old wooden digger consigned to the scrapheap, he decided shed life simply wouldn’t do.
The digger, a 1968 original, was in service at Takapuna Playcentre, and once Hutcheson had got it home, taken it apart and created two replicas, a trend was born.
Since 2012 Hutcheson and a team of North Harbour Rotary members have created almost 100 new wooden toys, with many sent to the 21 playcentres across the North Harbour region, including Coatesville, North Shore and Silverdale.
To celebrate the launch of each batch of wooden toys - so far a digger and tip truck - they’ve organised beach days where the playcentres could be presented with their new toys, and the children could come and enjoy them.
Hutcheson’s latest project is the ‘water wall’ - a plywood board to which colourful magnetised gutters are attached and can be rearranged to make waterways at different angles. Eleven walls will be installed by June and six more have been ordered for locations as far-flung as Great Barrier and Waiheke.
The Unsworth Heights resident says he came up with the idea when he visited playcentres and ‘‘kept seeing pieces of spouting wired to hurricane-wire fences and they were all at different angles’’.
Thinking it looked ‘‘scruffy’’, he came up with the water wall and with help from around six Rotary members, started to make them.
‘‘The whole deal is pretty colourful, tactile, and kids just love it,’’ he says.
President of the Coatesville Playcentre Tina Baines says the water wall has fit well with a new stream bed play space, funded by Albany Rotary. The wall is also educational.
‘‘What’s great about the water wall is it’s magnetic, and the children can explore gravity in a much more real way because they can manipulate the water flow.‘‘
Baines says the wall has encouraged group play as moving the pieces around requires two or three children. In future, Hutcheson says he has plans to develop a tactile wall for special needs primary school children. He says Rotary, which started in 1905, still continues to fill ‘‘a huge gap in world society’’, promoting peace, goodwill and understanding.
‘‘The motto of Rotary is service above self.’’
Samuel Baines gets ready for a water wall play with Kassia Walls.