From out of the rubble: Margaret Mahy Family Playground

Issue: Volume 93, Number 17

Posted: 22 September 2014
Reference #: 1H9csd

Imagine a 10-metre-high climbing tower, a double flying fox, and a four-metre-wide slide in what will be one of the biggest playgrounds in New Zealand – possibly Australasia. The ideas for these facilities came from children and young people of Canterbury, early childhood services and primary schools for the huge Margaret Mahy Family Playground being built in central Christchurch.

Last year, Education Gazette carried three stories about the BNZ Amazing Place series of competitions. These were part of an engagement strategy the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) had embarked on, enabling school-aged children and young people in Canterbury to have a real say on the future of their city – a city being built for them. So what has happened as a result of those competitions?

CERA estimates that about 6000 children and young people either took part in, or were involved in some way with, the playground competition. The strategy and the materials developed for the competitions can easily be adapted for schools in other parts of the country. Have a look at The Amazing Place website(external link).

One of the more successful parts of the strategy was the workshop set up between winners of the senior primary school competition and the project teams, architects, and designers of the playground itself. As a result, the Margaret Mahy Family Playground will reflect the underlying and historic stories of the tangata whenua and others, inspired by the imagination and enthusiasm of the students who took part in the BNZ Amazing Place activities. The huge park is part of the new central Christchurch rising out of the rubble of the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. There will be stylised places such as a forest with 10m-high climbing towers, giant rope nets, lookouts; a coastal-type area with sand and water play; a wetlands area with a splash-pad, water jets, sprinklers, pumps, and channels that can be dammed, diverted, and flooded; and a broad, grassed area with a ring of pavement inlaid with text and images from three local story-tellers – Ngāi Tahu, Margaret Mahy, and Elsie Locke.

Have a look at some background on the Margaret Mahy Family Playground.(external link) 

A short, 17 minute documentary has been made on the playground competition. There is no commentary; it’s just the participants, their teachers, the judges, and the decision-makers in their own unrehearsed words. It’s amazing. 

The BNZ Amazing Place youth engagement activities showed just what can be achieved by authentic, real-time learning experiences that result in great learning results for the young people themselves and provide an inspiration to those in powerful, decision-making positions. The young people were engaged and feel a part of their new city – a very important factor in the rebuild of the community and infrastructure of Christchurch.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:05 am, 22 September 2014

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