We caught up with Taranaki Foundation Chair, Bryce Barnett to find out all the latest news on this ambitious community project.

Where did the idea for Destination Play at Kāwaroa first come from?

B: A few years ago, I visited the beachside playground at Takapuna, Auckland, designed for kids and adults alike which was largely funded by local benefactors and has been great success.
My mind turned to the possibilities for New Plymouth’s foreshore as I’ve always has empathy for the development and wellbeing of children, not only the ones related to myself but also those in our community who are less fortunate.
I’ve been dreaming of this project for the last three or four years.

Who is behind the design of Destination Play?

B: Some years ago, I spoke to the Mayor about the desire to do something special and I had even tracked down the designers from the Takapuna project. However, when the Council came back, they said they had staff that have real strength in this area.
My experience with the team doing the design work from within New Plymouth District Council has blown my mind away. It is exciting that this innovative and truly world-class design concept has been completed by the NPDC parks team. They have done this in collaboration with Ngāti Te Whiti and a wide range of community stakeholders.

What makes Destination Play at Kāwaroa so special?

B: It is not an “off the shelf typical playground’’ as every single aspect of it has been thought out to suit the uniqueness of the site as well as making sure it is designed so adults and kids alike can enjoy it regardless of age or capability.
Kāwaroa Park is historically and culturally significant and this development is custom- designed to honour the rich and unique local stories of this area.
An example of this is the inclusion of local andesite rock, a key element of our volcanic landscape and reflective of the Kāwaroa reef. Te Kupenga Stone Sculpture Society are using their talents to sculpt local rock into a range of sea creatures for visitors to interact with at Destination Play.

Why is Destination Play at Kāworoa needed?

B: I believe Destination Play at Kāwaroa is a much-needed community asset where the young, the old, the physical and the less mobile can all share the smile on the face of those participating. But more importantly it’s a great place to give our community a deeper educational understanding of the land, sea and maunga and the people that inhabit it. It will create a centre of gravity for our local families, to have somewhere to play and relax fostering well-being in a thriving, outdoor environment.
Many of us will have fond memories of family picnics, playing on the pirate ship or exploring the rocky foreshore.
Destination Play at Kāwaroa will continue to be a treasured place for all in our community to come together and gather.

Will it really be the biggest play space in the Southern Hemisphere?

B: This dream kept growing and as it was shared and developed by those directly involved including NP Partners, NPDC, the local hapu, the school children, and the community it became apparent the size should not be compromised because there is such a great story to tell for all ages. We hope that the size and scale of Destination Play at Kāwaroa will really excite and engage our community as well as those who visit this special place.
The new development will be about nine times larger than the playground that’s there now and will involve the realignment of the current parking area to enable greater use of the foreshore and when completed it will cover 22,000 m2.

Will there still be swings and slides?

B: Yes!
The site is more than just a playground for kids. It’s a destination for anyone of any age that will include water features, a sensory stimulation space, outdoor learning hotspots, a Maramataka feature that highlights the Māori lunar calendar, a newly built access to the rock pools and many places to sit to enjoy the sea view and activities as well as swings and a large slide on the slope!
Destination Play at Kāwaroa has also embedded inclusive design considerations. An example of this is the sensory experience zone, to bring the learning and experiences of the reef to all. The design of this space is a reef and includes an outdoor classroom, accessible swings and slide, sand pit and an artificial, tactile, and accessible rock pool

When will construction start?

B: It is hoped to have resource consent finalised very shortly and construction is set to begin in March 2023 after we have all enjoyed the upcoming summer and school holidays and it is expected to be completed in early 2024.

What is Taranaki Foundation’s role in the project?

B: Over the past 2 years the Taranaki Foundation is proud to have been working hard to transform this “dream big” project into a reality.
We are the lead organisation managing the project fundraising, working together with NP Partners and NPDC who are responsible for construction, management and operation and Ngāti Te Whiti who are providing input into all aspects of the design and execution of the project.

Where has the funding for Destination Play come from?

B: Destination Play at Kāwaroa is a bold initiative driven by our community. To achieve the full scale, scope, and ambition of this landmark community project we had to engage early with the philanthropic community to gauge interest and gather support.
Already Taranaki people of a variety of means have made large and small contributions, including those who have given generous in-kind commitments.
To date 80% of committed funding has been secured for the estimated project cost.*

Why do you need additional funding from the community?

B: A project of this scale can only happen through generous support from a wide range of public, private, corporate and philanthropic funders and individuals.
We are now relying on the support of our Taranaki community to realise the full vision of Destination Play at Kāwaroa. We need in excess of $5.5million and to date $4.5million has been committed towards this project, so we are looking to bridge the gap from community funding and get us on the home straight.
We appreciate that the economic and uncertain times make it difficult for many to contribute. In reality it is those pressures that reinforce the need for a facility like this.
I would like to encourage all those that can financially participate, to support this great project and help us bring this visionary play space to life for all ages to play, enjoy and explore.

*Confirmed Project Partners and Donors (Individuals, Families & Trusts)