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Hamilton City Council was recognised at the New Zealand Recreation Awards held last night (Thursday 28 November) for its innovative Play Strategy which focuses on making Hamilton a great place for everyone to play.

The Play Strategy (2019-2039) took out the Outstanding Award in the Research and Planning and Policy category at a ceremony held at Wintec in Hamilton.

The Council also came away with a merit award in the Outstanding Project category – the most hotly contested category of the night – for the renewal of Waterworld. The largest swimming complex in the Waikato, Waterworld reopened to the public after a $10.8M refurbishment in November 2018.

The awards followed a two-day conference at Claudelands Events Centre which was run by Recreation Aotearoa and attended by industry experts from across New Zealand,

The Council’s award-winning Play Strategy was finalised in April 2019 and expands on the traditional definition of play – beyond playgrounds and sports fields – to provide opportunities for everyone to adventure throughout the city with an emphasis on nurturing spontaneous play and making better use of the natural environment.

Amanda Banks (left) and Lance Vervoort (right) accept awards at the New Zealand Recreation Awards.

Policy and Strategy Advisor Amanda Banks, who led the development of the Strategy, says: “It’s a great honour to be recognised in this way. The strategy is helping us to plan for play opportunities in a really unique way.”

“It was borne out of a desire to improve the sense of connectedness in our communities and to think of all our public space as potential play spaces, where children can explore their neighbourhoods, play cricket in the streets outside their home and roam the gullies.

“We want to make it easier for Hamiltonians of all ages to experience joy and happiness through physical activity. Our city has a lot to offer and the Play Strategy sets us on the path to achieve this over the next 20 years.”

Sport Waikato CEO Matthew Cooper says: “We’re very supportive of the approach the Council is taking with its Play Strategy and pleased to hear of the accolades it received this week.”

“Here at Sport Waikato, we’re also passionate believers in the value of play and the important role it plays in the lives of everyone who calls the Waikato home. The Council’s Play Strategy aligns very nicely with Sport Waikato’s new focus and Sport NZ’s new direction which focuses on play, active recreation and sport.

“Local government has a vital role in making provision for play and we’re certainly encouraged to see Hamilton City Council leading the charge nationally in this area. The Play Strategy sets the bar high and I look forward to seeing how it will guide decision making through the upcoming Long-Term Plan (LTP).”

Lance Vervoort, the Council’s General Manager for Community, says: “The Play Strategy is a document we’re incredibly proud of and is proving a valuable tool for guiding our thinking and planning, not just when it comes to parks, indoor facilities and aquatics, but the wider Council too.”

“Our play offerings as a city are rich and diverse and we need to stay mindful of these opportunities, especially in our growth areas like Peacocke.

“It was fantastic to also get recognised for the renewal of Waterworld too. This was a huge undertaking for our city’s flagship swimming complex, which involved increasing the depth of the 50m pool as well as a complete replacement of the heating, ventilation, lighting and filtration systems.”


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