Wa­ter walls for North Har­bour play­cen­tres

North Harbour News - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - AMY BAKER

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.’’

AMY BAKER/FAIR­FAX NZ

Sa­muel Baines gets ready for a wa­ter wall play with Kas­sia Walls.

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