New look for tagged park
A whole lot of love was lavished on a tagged playground that became an urban eyesore – and the kids are flocking back.
Tui Park, next to the Highbury Ave shops in Palmerston North, was ‘‘reopened’’ with a community day of music, food and laughter on Saturday.
Before the rejuvenation project, the park had a tense uninviting atmosphere and was a haven for petty crime, said Chris Whaiapu, leader of the Ngati Hineaute hapu authority, which runs a kohanga reo next to the park.
‘‘You needed your wits about you. You’d wonder who’s in the park – are they going to jump out if I go round the corner?’’
So the city council was approached and asked for help.
‘‘We wanted to see what we could do to work together in partnership, to involve the community to take a bit of ownership and to improve its overall feel,’’ Whaiapu said.
The council replaced the perimeter fence, which looked like a ‘‘corrections facility’’ wall, and rebuilt a stylish wood fence that allows good line of sight into park.
Trees were cut back to open it up, and bright murals painted with hibiscus, Maori and Pacific Island designs, and tukutuku-inspired motifs that reflect the Highbury Weavers, based next door.
Gardens of native plants have been added and the play equip- ment had a colourful repaint to look new, with a swinging climbing tower added.
‘‘It just lifts that unsafe feeling. Now you can see through the fence and see it’s a park,’’ Whaiapu said.
‘‘The kids, they love it. They just come charging into the park, chuck their bags up against the wall, get up on the rope climber and just go for it. It’s awesome.’’
The project was effective because it was community driven, with input from a cross section of Highbury groups, council leisure assets planner Jason Pilkington said.
About 150 people joined in planting work during the launch, despite winter rain, which showed strong ownership.
‘‘It was a horrible park. It just hadn’t had any work or love for a number of years, so when parks are like that people don’t take care of them and they tend to get worse.’’
Now its bright and vibrant, like the community here, he said.
Replanting, murals and new fencing have brightened Tui Park in Highbury. Mucking in are Ngati Hineaute’s Chris Whaiapu, centre, with Jason Pilkington, left, and Todd Taiepa, PNCC, right.