With the nearest playground a 20-minute drive away, Kaukapakapa resident Nicola Towersey has become the driving force to build a local playground.
Seven years ago, she joined the Kaukapakapa Area Residents and Ratepayers Association’s community project to build a playground beside the Kaukapakapa Hall.
“I had just become a mum and found that living in a rural community can be quite isolating," she says.
“I was meeting lots of fantastic families at playgrounds but none from my own community.
“We needed our own playground, to create a central hub in Kaukapakapa and enable families to meet and build support networks in our community.”
While Rodney Local Board allocated $78,000 to the project, the bulk of the funding has been raised by the community, with the total project cost estimated at $277,524.
Rodney Local Board Parks and Recreation Committee Chair Brent Bailey applauds the ratepayers’ association and community for getting this project across the line.
“This play space is a testament to a community standing together to create an exceptional space that reflects the rural setting. Play and nature are incorporated together in a fun way.”
Bordering a Kahikatea glade, the Swamp Forest play space embraces the surroundings and inspires natural play with new discoveries at every turn. It includes a hidden maze, a crawl tunnel, a wobbly bridge, stepping logs, swings, a slide and picnic tables.
Additional features are a beautiful eel and seating carved by inmates at the Northland Region Corrections Facility.
Sponsors include charitable organisations and businesses, many local, who have generously volunteered equipment, skills, time and most of all encouragement.Their contribution is acknowledged on Facebook.
The next step is constructing concrete paths, boardwalks and landscaping, which a sponsor is helping with. Nicola reckons that about $5000 should complete the project and a Givealittle page has been set up or people can sponsor a plaque for the playground. The details are on Facebook.
A community planting day is being organised for July. Nicola says when the playground is ready to open, there will be a celebration because while it’s been hard work, "look at what we’ve achieved together".