The eagerly anticipated Destination Play at Kāwaroa is on the cusp of becoming a reality, making a significant milestone for the community. This morning, approximately one hundred people gathered for a Blessing Ceremony and Ground-breaking at Kāwaroa Park, marking the official commencement of this project.

Led by Hoani Eriwata of Ngāti te Whiti, the ceremony began with a warm welcome to all attendees, inviting them to join in blessing the land. Te Raumahora Hema initiated proceedings with a Karanga – the call of the Wāhine, followed by a karakia led by Hoani, guiding those present across the site.

Following the blessing, heartfelt speeches expressed gratitude to the individuals, families, organisations, funders and wider community whose collective contribution and partnership have brought this ambitious vision to life.

The project is being led by the Taranaki Foundation in partnership with Ngāti Te Whiti,  New Plymouth District Council and NP Partners.

Ngāti Te Whiti Hapū Chair Julie Heale said “Over three years in the making, this project has been a testament to true partnership and collaboration. It’s been an enjoyable journey and we’re eagerly anticipating the joy it will bring to families as they come together to embrace this special space.”

Despite health recovery constraints preventing his attendance, Bryce Barnett’s moving and heartfelt letter, read by his daughter Adelle McBeth, reflected on the aspirations and journey towards realising this vision for the community. “As we stand here, on the cusp of realising this dream, I am somewhat overwhelmed by the generosity that has got us to this point. I look forward to enjoying this park with my grandchildren and seeing my children be able to enjoy it with their children,” wrote Barnett.

New Plymouth District Council Mayor Neil Holdom acknowledged Ngāti Te Whiti and commended the visionary leadership of Bryce Barnett. “Bryce’s vision, which began as a dream for our community, is a testament to what we can achieve collectively. Destination Play exemplifies the remarkable collaboration of New Plymouth residents coming together to create something truly extraordinary.”

With the site blessed and the first sod turned, attention now turns to the removal of the existing playground before the onset of civil construction. While disruptions, including closures of the playground area and parts of the Coastal Walkway, are expected during construction, there is a commitment to working closely with contractors to minimise inconvenience and promptly reopen areas.

Key Dates and Information:

  • 20 March 2024: Fencing off play area; Playground closed.
  • 21 March 2024: Removal of existing play equipment and furniture; Playground and Walkway closed.
  • April – September 2024: Civil construction commences for new Destination Play; expect disruption to the Carpark near playground, and Coastal Walkway.
  • September – December 2024: Installation of play equipment and furniture; Carpark may be partially/completely closed, Coastal Walkway may reopen.

Find out more and contribute to Destination Play here

Read the Taranaki Daily News project update here