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Somerfield Te Kura Wairepo’s outdoor play spaces are set for a major overhaul, with a revitalisation project given the final green light by the Board of Trustees in March 2020.
The project is the culmination of many years planning as part of the school’s wider building redevelopment programme. It will result in a new junior playground, a nature play area, a bike track and a communal chicken coop.
Denise is immensely proud of where the project has ended up. “We have been working towards this for a very long time. I think this project will create an incredible legacy for the school and our community. In particular, I’d like to acknowledge board member Craig Weston for the incredible professional skills he brings to the table, which means we can deliver something exceptional for our tamariki.”
In 2019 students were invited to consider what they would like to see for a new playground and other outdoor spaces. With support from teaching staff, children worked collaboratively to research, brainstorm and create ideas and designs. They considered the physical and emotional wellbeing of students (as well as the all-important ‘fun factor’).
Award winning landscape architect and play consultant Tina Dyer from Auckland-based Park Central led this co-design process. Along with observing how students used the existing outdoor areas, she met with Denise Torrey and a group of students who presented and discussed their ideas.
“The children presented a range of design options with some very interesting and brilliant ideas,” says Tina. She was impressed with the effort the students had made. “The children had given some serious thought to the process with some very professional presentations.”
“The sort of play spaces they talked about were from an easy to hard bike track, nature play, tree house with wonky tunnel and chicken coup. The eco council encouraged planting with some very specific species requested. The younger children were keen on lots of running, climbing, jumping.”
They also discussed how the games students enjoy playing could be incorporated into the designs.
The student’s ideas will soon be bought to life, with the concept plans and budget approved and work scheduled to be completed by mid-2020.
Denise is hoping that the spirit of collaboration that has defined the project will continue when work begins. “As the project progresses, we’re hoping to work with our parent community and our wider networks, so that those who would like to contribute, can,” she explains.