First South Auckland destination playground takes fun to spectacular new heights

Publish Date : 24 Jul 2023
Hayman Park Playground1

The Manukau community, and residents from across Tāmaki Makaurau can now enjoy the upgraded destination playground at Hayman Park featuring the tallest playtower in Aotearoa.

Recently transformed into a new epic adventure hub, Hayman Park is part of the Transform Manukau project led by Eke Panuku, in collaboration with the Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board.

Transform Manukau sets out the approach for how Eke Panuku and its partners will transform Manukau over 20 to 25 years.

“While Eke Panuku and the government will do the heavy lifting, true transformation is owned and delivered by us all,” says Manukau Ward Councillor Alf Filipaina.

Last week the board, councillors and other partners were invited to a special ‘first look’, followed by an early morning blessing on 21 July.

Councillor Lotu Fuli reflected on the journey to get the playground. “I was Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board chair when we started to talk about Transform Manukau and what kind of play area was needed in Manukau.”

“Hayman Park is the first of its kind in South Auckland and is a great addition to the ongoing work of the board, the Governing Body and Eke Panuku to transform Manukau, and I also want to thank local Iwi for blessing the project from the start to completion. Their input is always crucial to council and our communities.”

Fuli also thanked Richard Davison from Eke Panuku. “I pursued him throughout my time as board chair to ensure this playground would be built. He never wavered and secured the funding for phase 1 and then phase 2, even during the pandemic, floods, and budget cuts.”

Overjoyed to see so many years of planning come to fruition, she says the people of Ōtara-Papatoetoe, Manukau and South Auckland deserve wonderful facilities. “A huge thanks to current board chair Apulu Reece Autagavaia and his fellow members for continuing the work we first only dreamed of back in 2016.”
Hayman Park playground Karakia Whakawaatea by Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua

Hayman Park playground Karakia Whakawaatea by Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua

Stages 1 and 2 of the park development have been a part of the board’s local board plan outcome - Transform Manukau.

“For a long time, our families have told us they felt like they needed to travel outside our area to go to good quality playgrounds. Now, our children can enjoy a superb destination playground that rivals anything else in Auckland, right here in the heart of Manukau,” Autagavaia says.

Creating a flourishing Manukau is a goal for the board and community, and the expanding area now boasts tertiary education, a commercial centre and residential growth, while the board continues to prioritise local needs as regeneration shapes a quality city centre.

“Manukau has the youngest population in the region, so it is important we have play equipment that it is fit for purpose and caters for our diverse communities. It is wonderful to see that we will finally have a true destination playground in the heart of South Auckland,” Autagavaia says.

Nestled within a short distance of public transport modes, the MIT campus, the booming shopping and office district, Hayman Park is an inner-city jewel on 10-hectares of green space.

Safety is paramount

Eke Panuku Senior Project Manager Greg Hannah has kept an eye on safety throughout the build.

“Even though the new tower is tall, it is very safe”, he says.
“Throughout the tower there are rubber mats for those adventurous enough to try the climbing walls, safety mesh is fixed to every wall, all gaps are cleverly designed and built ensure fingers, toes and limbs are kept safe, and the tower itself is as strong as a four-storey building."
“The tower has received the seal of approval from an independent playground certifier, as well as being designed by architects and engineers.”
“There is also a staircase with handrails all the way up the main tower, so caregivers can stay close to their children if they need support, although the kids might be more fearless than the adults. It may look a bit frightening being designed in an open way, but that is what also makes it such fun.”
The playground’s new features include:
  • New Zealand’s tallest tower – 12.8 metres
  • advanced safety features
  • motion sensor lights on every level
  • security cameras
  • staircase for caregivers to stay close to children
  • three climbing walls, two slides, four rope climbing bridges / tunnels, a see-saw at the top, games on the walls, toy binoculars and telescope, toddler friendly activities
  • large adult size swing set and two flying foxes
  • ground level activities for those reliant on caregivers, including musical instruments such as chimes and a xylophone, a spinning wheel, moving platforms and talk tubes
  • basketball half court - requested specifically by local board
  • bump track and flow bowl

Accessible Play:

Accessibility peer reviews by Ben Richards and Be Accessible covering all of the play aspects, and many of the suggestions put forward during this were integrated into the final design.  As a result, the playground provides a high level of universal access and a range of inclusive play opportunities for a wide variety of ages and abilities. These include:

  • Rubber mats across the entire new addition to the playground which enable wheelchairs and strollers to get up close to the equipment. A simpler/continuous ground also helps those with autism
  • There are lots of ground level activities which are designed for those reliant on caregivers, and include large musical instruments such as chimes and a xylophone, a spinning wheel, moving platforms and talk tubes
  • There are lots of ropes at ground level too which are designed to help with strength improvements (e.g. hanging off these builds upper body strength)
  • For those more adventurous or mobile, there's a wide set of stairs with handrails going all the way up to the top to help caregivers guide/assist kids up each level of the tower.

Details about the project here. Only one question remains…what to try first?

Photo's credit to Eke Panuku

Elements of the upgraded Hayman Park playground, photo's credit to Eke Panuku

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