January 18, 2021

Reclaiming our streets for neighbourly fun and games

Our local streets are where we’ve played for generations. Neighbourhood activities such as water fights, cricket and riding bikes are the fabric of many childhood memories.

But in recent years, this cherished past-time has been on the decline. Parents and children are less likely to encourage neighbourhood play, due to several persistent factors including extensive use of cars, congestion and neighbours no longer knowing one another.

A team of community champions and organisations are working to reclaim our streetscapes as a place for children and whānau to connect, play and socialise.

In partnership with the Kelston Community Hub, Healthy Families Waitākere applied to temporarily close two streets, Laura Street and Standage Lane, to cars for a Sunday afternoon in December 2020. Auckland Transport supported the event by supplying road cones, team members to marshal cars and funding to supply BBQ and play equipment on the day. Kelston community champion, Leva Faafua, explains.

“We wanted to claim back our street for an afternoon, allow kids and parents to get out of the house and have fun with one another. The event was a wonderful success, kids were having water fights, playing basketball and getting creative with chalk stencils – all simply by limiting cars on the street for a few hours.”

The street community plan to have more street events over summer with a view to make this a regular occasion.

A continuation of the event, Play Streets, is currently underway for 2021. Play Streets is a collaborative initiative underway in Tāmaki Makaurau, managed by Auckland Council, Healthy Families Waitākere and Healthy Families South Auckland with funding from Waka Kotahi.