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Playground celebrates local Maori heritage

17 June, 10am

Okahu Bay playground celebrates local Maori heritage

Okahu Bay playground was opened this morning, in a short ceremony conducted by Sir Hugh Kawharu and Auckland City Mayor Dick Hubbard.

Mayor Dick Hubbard said Auckland City and Ngati Whatua o Orakei had been working closely together to develop a playground that combined cultural, educational and adventure elements.

"The strength of our relationship with Ngati Whatua o Orakei demonstrates what can be achieved for the public by working positively together," said Mr Hubbard.

Sir Hugh Kawharu agrees and adds, "We enjoy our relationship with the City Council and look forward to creating many other projects that will bring widespread community benefit at Okahu and beyond in years to come."

"This stands us in good stead as the recently singed Treaty of Waitangi settlement Agreement in Principle proposes to expand the reach of our relationship," said Mr Hubbard.

"I was delighted to see the expressions on the children's faces as they discover this special playground. This is a real asset for the local community," said Mr Hubbard.

This is the first playground in Auckland to be themed around Maori heritage of the local area. The overall concept of the playground is based on the manaia form, a common feature in Ngati Whatua waka and carving styles. The term also refers to the seahorse, a species that normally resides in the local bays and estuaries.

"The new playground caters for a variety of age groups as well as small to large families with things (such as the rocktopus and comet spinner) that can still be enjoyed by individuals," says Bernadette Papa, Ngati Whatua o Orakei Heritage and Resources Kaimahi/consultant.

The site of the playground was historically a waka landing, fishing and gardening village for Ngati Whatua hapu living in and around the Central Auckland Isthmus, the Waitemata and Manukau Harbours. By 1952, the papakainga (village) had been cleared.

The theme of the playground is drawn from the site's inherited cultural heritage values tempered with desirable, imaginative and practical play items. It also includes access and attractions for children with disabilities such as multi-tactile surfaces for the visually-impaired.

Variety - The Children's Charity - with the support of a sponsor, has generously donated a unique swing made for children in wheelchairs.

"The Variety liberty swing provides a rare opportunity for children in wheelchairs to experience the thrill of a swing and we are delighted that all children who visit the Okahu Bay playground will be able to join in the fun," said Lorraine Taylor, CEO Variety New Zealand.

ENDS

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