Tamariki at Port Waikato’s Te Kohanga School have an exciting new play space that encourages creativity and imagination, the fourth to be built by Mitre 10’s
Helping Hands Project Playground initiative.
“Most of our 30-40 students have it pretty tough. Many have periods of time in and out of school, and very few of our families own their own home. Some are living on iwi land, in temporary housing, or with grandparents. Our current playground, built by parents in the early 1990s offers limited excitement or challenge for our students,” says Robyn Driver, Principal at Te Kohanga School.
The small low-decile rural school has a fluctuating roll and serves a small community spread across a wide area, with teachers dedicated to their students and large open spaces in beautiful natural surroundings.
Rather than a standard playground rebuild, Te Kohanga’s request was a little different. It wanted a multi-purpose area that would inspire imaginative play and encourage the children to experiment, discover and learn. The new play space includes fixed musical instruments, a small deck that can be used as a stage, a basket swing, a sandpit to play with tools in and more.
“Our school is a place of security and wrap-around care. As well as teaching and encouraging performance, we’re focused on the holistic wellbeing of our tamariki and ensuring the school is a culturally safe place to be. Some of our kids need space just to be kids, to learn what play is, so this is an absolute dream come true,” says Robyn.
Under the guidance of Mitre 10’s building consultant and
Easy As man Stan Scott, team members from Mitre 10 MEGA Pukekohe and the Mitre 10 Support Centre spent several days at the school working on the project.
The playground was unveiled and gifted to the school this week as part of Mitre 10’s Helping Hands Project Playground initiative, a project aiming to create meaningful play spaces across Aotearoa and encourage more play among Kiwi kids. When Mitre 10 put out the call for submissions, over 550 schools – almost half of primary schools across the country – responded.
“It’s been awesome working on the play space at Te Kohanga School. We’ve had a bunch of Mitre 10 team members out here digging, mixing concrete and grafting and they loved it. The looks of pure happiness on the kids’ faces today as we unveiled the playground is what we do this for. Inspiring Kiwi to love where they live, work and play is what Mitre 10 is about so I’m stoked we were able to make a difference for these tamariki and the surrounding community,” says Stan Scott.
Mitre 10 has another three playground projects underway across the country and has also built playgrounds at Colwill School in West Auckland, South New Brighton School in Christchurch, and Te Hapara School in Gisborne, as part of the initiative.