It’s play time!

Com­mu­nity space in Mar­fell of­fi­cially opens

Taranaki Daily News - - Front Page - TARA SHASKEY

A space in New Ply­mouth for chil­dren to ‘‘stretch them­selves, push them­selves, learn to fall down and learn to get up’’ has been of­fi­cially opened.

The Mar­fell com­mu­nity area on Cook St was launched on Wed­nes­day at a rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony at­tended by hun­dreds.

The space was blessed by Haydn Te Ruki and Shane Cas­sidy of Nga¯ ti Te Whiti and the crowd, which in­cluded chil­dren, par­ents, key spon­sors and district coun­cil­lors, was entertained by a dance troupe and kapa haka per­form­ers.

District Mayor Neil Holdom was as ex­cited to see the space opened as the tamariki who cheered while he spoke. The space is kit­ted out with a brand-new play­ground and a half-sized bas­ket­ball court.

‘‘This is for you,’’ Holdom said. ‘‘You guys are in­cred­i­ble. When you look around and look at all of these adults, we love you. We are so proud of you and we are so ex­cited about what you’re go­ing to do in the fu­ture.’’

Nine-year-old Lexus Opetaia lives two doors down from the park and was now a fre­quent flyer on the fly­ing fox.

‘‘We used to just go to the school and play but now we all come here,’’ the Mar­fell Com­mu­nity School stu­dent said.

Class­mate Jeri­cho Nuku lived around the cor­ner and said he and all of his friends liked to ‘‘play with the hoop and play knock out.’’

‘‘And all the peo­ple love the spi­der swings,’’ he said.

Fa­ther-of-six Hen­drix Rawiri has lived in the area since he was a young­ster and while he wished the recre­ational space was around while grow­ing up, he was happy know­ing his chil­dren would ben­e­fit from it.

‘‘It’s awe­some for the kids. It keeps them ac­tive and out of trou­ble.’’

Jess Oka said the up­grade was long over­due.

Since be­ing es­tab­lished it had al­ready worked to re­unite the neigh­bour­hood with many peo­ple now us­ing it as a meet­ing place, she said.

‘‘And on birthdays we can just roll down the road, light it up and away we go.’’

The play area, made pos­si­ble with an al­most $300,000 do­na­tion from the TSB Com­mu­nity Trust, was the first step in a project to re­ju­ve­nate the park and was cre­ated in con­sul­ta­tion with com­mu­nity groups and Mar­fell res­i­dents, who got to vote on their pref­er­ence for the new play equip­ment.

It was built on the site of two for­mer Hous­ing New Zealand homes, in­clud­ing one dam­aged by fire, that were sched­uled for re­moval or demolition. NPDC bought the homes in 2016 to cre­ate a wel­com­ing new en­trance to Mar­fell Park.

The NPDC had started a dis­cus­sion with the com­mu­nity on the fu­ture of the BMX track, which has been un­used since 2016.

The project also in­cluded a new home for Rangi­marie Ma¯ ori Arts and Crafts So­ci­ety af­ter NPDC ap­proved a con­ces­sional land lease for a site just be­low the BMX track.

‘‘It’s awe­some for the kids.’’

Hen­drix Rawiri

PHO­TOS: GRANT MATTHEW/STUFF

Open­ing of the new Com­mu­nity Space in Mar­fell, New Ply­mouth.

The play area was made pos­si­ble with an al­most $300,000 do­na­tion from the TSB Com­mu­nity Trust, and was cre­ated in con­sul­ta­tion with com­mu­nity groups and Mar­fell res­i­dents, who got to vote on their pref­er­ence for the new play equip­ment.

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