New look for tagged park

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - KAROLINE TUCKEY

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.

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