May 15, 2023

Nurturing Play in Pātiki Avondale  

When we think of childhood, the perfect day is one spent playing, building a makeshift fort, putting on a musical show, and racing on bikes with neighbours and friends. Play is not only fun; it plays an essential role in our development socially, physically, and mentally. 

In the tightly scheduled world we live in today, the need for play has never been greater. Our tamariki are playing less than they used to for several reasons including; how our neighbourhoods have been designed, COVID-19 lockdowns, prioritising structured play (such as football) and increasing levels of screentime.

To explore a local play area in West Auckland, members of the Healthy Families and Community Sport and Recreation teams from Sport Waitākere worked together on the Pātiki Play Systems Project. The project involved assessment of the available areas for play in the Pātiki community, a neighbourhood within Avondale, Auckland.

The team focussed on gathering and elevating tamariki (children’s) voices to understand how and where they play, what they like to play with and any changes they’d like to see in their local green spaces (parks and fields). The insights and perspectives gathered will be shared and championed through Local Board meetings, alongside Auckland Council and supporting organisations to ensure tamariki voice is heard and uplifted during the planning and design of our built environment.   

Community Sport and Recreation Play Advisor, Pauline Butt, continues.

“Alongside Bea from Healthy Families, we undertook a mapping and insights-gathering exercise spanning the Pātiki area. We spoke with tamariki and whānau from Rosebank Primary and Rosebank Intermediate, alongside several community groups such as I Love Avondale, who awhi (support) the people in Pātiki.”

The unique approach places the key stakeholder, tamariki, at the centre – uplifting their thoughts and ideas for how their places and spaces should be designed.

The project highlighted several opportunities for the neighbourhood, including improved maintenance and upkeep of their play areas. Tamariki loved using the basketball courts at the Eastdale and Riverdale Reserves. However, the courts often do not have functional hoops, a simple fix to support play in Pātiki.

Tamariki also shared their favourite play equipment at their local park. The basketball court, the big field, tree cover (for shade), the fitness equipment and the walking track surrounding the park topped the list. When asked what they’d like to change, they suggested, having well-maintained toilets, and changing rooms, more trees for shade, a more inclusive playground, and a functioning basketball court.

The team is synthesising the findings into a report, which will be available later in the month. Alongside the report, Sport Waitākere is presenting the findings Te Whau Local Board to influence design and planning in the area. The team worked alongside I Love Avondale on its application for Tu Manawa funding to bring its annual activities plan to life to support more play for tamariki and whānau in the area.