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Community set to celebrate new Ohauiti playground

Local residents and children from Hairini, Ohauiti, Maungatapu and Poike will come together this weekend to celebrate a significant upgrade of their local playground which now reflects the area’s unique cultural heritage as well.

Te Papa Tākaro o Tongaparaoa | Ila Park will re-open this Saturday (25 March) with the formalities beginning at 10am, with pōhiri by Mana Whenua including waiata from Maungatapu Primary School Pūwhariki children.  Live music, a free sausage sizzle, face painting and circus acts to entertain the large crowd are expected and will be followed by refreshments and entertainment from 11:30am-1pm.

Christine Wildhaber, Project Manager Spaces and Places at Tauranga City Council says the revamped playground now caters for all ages.

“The upgrade includes a double flying fox, basketball court*, tube slide, swings, climbing timber frame, a learn-to-ride cycle path and an area dedicated to younger children with smaller swings plus a slide, tunnel and see-saw. Shade sails will provide cover while new trees (to be planted over winter) grow to offer long term shade.”

Tube slide at Ila Park

Tuna (eel) artwork wrapped around the new tube slide at Te Papa Tākaro o Tongaparaoa | Ila Park.

A new toilet block has been constructed and a concrete pathway now links the park to the nearby cycleway that runs adjacent to SH29A.

“The new playground equipment replaces an old module and swing set that had been there since the 1990s. We had terrific feedback from local residents – including many children – during the planning stage, and have worked closely with local hapū to reflect the area’s special history.”

Many bespoke cultural elements are included in the new playground thanks to collaboration with Ngāi Te Ahi, Ngāti He and Ngāti Ruahine. Hapū spokesperson Irene Walker says Te Papa Tākaro o Tongaparaoa | Ila Park was once a thriving wetland and important breeding ground for many bird and fish species.

“The Waimapu Harbour once provided plentiful kaimoana and wildlife, and the flourishing of flora and fauna created a healthy and thriving environment. It was an important habitat for the tuna (eels) and matuku (the Australasian bittern) and many more.”

Ngāi Te Ahi and Ngāti He have helped restore a small portion of this wetland near the park, and many of the design elements on the playground now reflect this connection.

The blue safety surface laid on the ground features the scales of inanga (small fish), a tuna (eel) artwork is wrapped around the slide, and images of matuku (bittern) sit perched on top of the swings. A 2m-long custom-made hinaki (eel trap) is another playground feature that will be covered in rope and colourful perspex fish which children can walk beneath.

Ila Park

A 2-metre long hinaki (eel trap) as part of the upgrade at Te Papa Tākaro o Tongaparaoa | Ila Park.

“At the new entrance to the park three boulders will be carved to represent the three hapū of the area,” Irene explains. “It is wonderful to see the park reflecting our history and cultural identity reconnecting Māuao and the Waimapu River into the Tauranga Harbour.”

Welcome Bay Lions Club will provide a free sausage sizzle on the day, and a coffee cart will be on site. Members of the public who would like to listen to the formal speeches and waiata from 10am are invited to bring seating with them, and renowned local singer Mana Farrell will perform from 11:30am onwards. If wet, the opening day festivities will be rescheduled.

“This will be a great celebration and chance for the local community to come together and enjoy their new space,” Christine says. “We hope that Te Papa Tākaro o Tongaparaoa | Ila Park can offer something for everyone.”

For more information, please contact parks.projects@tauranga.govt.nz

Posted: Mar 20, 2023,
Categories: General,

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