New Zealand’s first inclusive playground is another step closer to coming to Hamilton Kirikiriroa.
Last week, Hamilton City Council approved the location of Claudelands park alongside the concept designs and staging plan for the ‘magical’ playground to be developed in partnership with Magical Bridge Trust. The locally based trust was formed specifically to build the world’s most accessible playground for the residents of Hamilton.
The fully inclusive playground will be a safe place to play for people of all physical capabilities and ages and meet the needs of people with intellectual disabilities including autism and sensory, visual and hearing impairments.
The location of Claudelands was chosen due to its central location set away from busy roads, as well as having a safe area for bikes and a car park.
One in four New Zealanders live with a disability, with more than 120,000 living in Waikato.
Community Committee Chair Councillor Mark Bunting said that this playground is a great step forward for making our community play areas more friendly and inclusive for everyone to enjoy.
“Having this world-class playground near the centre of Hamilton Kirikiriroa will not only encourage play in those who feel they can’t use our traditional playgrounds, it revolutionises the bounds of play and how we could be more inclusive with our future designs.
“I am extremely excited about this project. It’s a New Zealand first, and a real sign of the way we want to approach play in this city. It’s positive, it’s possible and it’s a fantastic partnership.”
Council will contribute a maximum of $1.4 million towards the project from its renewal budget for the existing playground. This funding will cover stage one – stages two and three rely on Magical Bridge Trust securing external funding, with no obligation on Council to complete these.
The playground proposal includes three standalone stages with the first stage starting in January 2023. This stage will see a playground with improved inclusivity built on the existing playground’s footprint. Stages two and three will add several play zones, alongside facilities such as toilets and carparking.
Magical Bridge Trust will engage with stakeholders and user groups such as Waikato Show Trust, local mana whenua and groups including the Disabled Persons Assembly, the McKenzie Centre, Head Injury Waikato and Sport NZ during the design phase to ensure the final design has play value for all.
Magical Bridge Trust Co-Founder and Board Chair Peter van Vroonhoven says that a huge amount of mahi with the community has gone into this decision.
“This is an exciting and momentous decision by the Hamilton City Council and will set the benchmark for other regions of New Zealand Aotearoa to follow. This is something our disabled community and their whaanau deserve and have been waiting for.”
More about the playground
The 5000m2 proposed playground will have themed zones, including a slide zone, sensory zone, swing zone and spinning zone.
Hideaway huts, buddy benches, and gathering spots to play and relax will be fun play spaces. It will also have fully accessible amenities such as changing rooms, along with improved parking.
The design would also consider specific colours for pathways and zones, planting for sensory purposes, braille on signage and equipment, and user facilities such as shade and drinking fountains.