August 10, 2022

Building a more playful West Auckland

The area surrounding a West Auckland school is set to become a whole lot more playful with some of the community’s smallest residents having an important say in the process.

The one-kilometre area surrounding Rosebank Primary is the focus of a comprehensive play assessment and consultation process underway by Sport Waitākere.  The aim of the neighbourhood play system is to evaluate and identify opportunities to make the area more playful, explains Pauline Butt, Young People Project Lead at Sport Waitākere.

“This approach looks at the school and the neighbourhood through the eyes of the tamariki and the whānau who live, work and play in that community.”

Sport New Zealand has been guiding the neighbourhood play system concept, with all Regional Sports Trusts tasked with increasing the number of playful neighbourhoods across Aotearoa.

A desktop analysis by Sport Waitākere allowed a full understanding of the environment by looking at local board plans, scheduled transport upgrades, locations of dedicated play spaces such as playgrounds, fields, beaches and bush areas as well as other spaces used for play such as community halls, churches, marae and temples. 

“We also looked at the connection of streets, safety from the roads and regular public transport routes that may influence the children to roam.  Detailed information on the school enrolments, socio-economic deprivation profiles and any known play activities in the area also added to the richness of our information on the area,” adds Pauline.

The next step in the process aimed to engage the community and in particular the tamariki to hear their voices on where they play now, why they play there, what the barriers are to them playing and what they think could happen in their community to make it more playful.

Through partnering with I Love Avondale, the team were able to engage with students at Rosebank Primary, Avondale Intermediate, Bike Avondale members and a local Bahai youth group- led Festival, explains Bea Enriquez, Play System Innovator with Sport Waitākere’s Healthy Families team.

“Insights from the tamariki who would not typically engage in local consultation processes or make submissions to council in their own voices was particularly valuable.  All groups highlighted similar thoughts around what they liked and disliked and what they wanted to see in their local area.  An online survey was also conducted by the Whau Youth Board and this demonstrated similar trends.”

One young contributor suggested: “I would make a huge slide, monkey bars and bigger swings so that my older siblings could play with me too.” 

“A pool so we can do manus,” says another.

First hand exploration of the area on bikes also provided important insights.

“A detailed exploration of the area on bikes helped us to really understand the neighbourhood, the challenges that they face and the possibilities that could happen to ensure that the tamariki and their whānau have the opportunity to be more playful,” explains Bea.

While still in the early stages, there is a clear willingness from the various community groups to partner collaboratively with the tamariki to make Rosebank more playful. Within the next year the team hopes to co-design opportunities to trial play options in the area as well as continue to influence council and interested organisations to support these opportunities.

Bea says the journey to date has been a rewarding one to watch.

“This has been an amazing journey watching this community come together to share their insights. We still can’t believe how much has been achieved in just a short time and cant wait to see what exciting playful outcomes result from this collaboration.”