By Wendy Betteridge
Date posted: 13 April 2015
Members of Plimmerton Rotary have spent many months working on refurbishing equipment for the new adult section of the new playground at Calliope Park. Rotarian, Peter Sinke and his team of 3 to 6 Rotarians, have been building the structures for the past eighteen months at Rotarian Ian Turner’s shed, at Pukeawa Blueberry farm, up the Paekakariki Hill Road.
The western area of the 30-year-old kids playground was surrounded in dense bush. It was an uninviting place for the kids to play and was often frequented by undesirables, particularly at night in the dark. Most of the trees and scrub were removed, the playground was demolished and floodlights were installed that stayed on all night. The Porirua City Council Village Manager, Ian Barlow said they wanted the project to be a community endeavour. He was aware that Plimmerton Rotary were already very active in this community with the local schools and colleges. So Plimmerton Rotary was approached to partner with the community to construct an ‘adult playground’, reusing the old materials to a Porirua City Council design which was prepared after a lot of consultation with the local community.
Unfortunately, much of that material was well past its ‘use by date’ and the Rotary Club team shown in these photos, of Peter with John Gillon, Roy Gilmour, Keith Michael, Mike Scott, Graham Wallace and Nick Walmsley found that they couldn’t undo many of the security bolts. The steel bolts and the aluminium clamps had chemically welded themselves together making them impossible to undo.
Eventually, it became obvious after direction from two of the engineers in the Club, Graham Wallace and Nick Walmsley, that it would be sensible to abandon the idea of using 100% recycled materials and to make some of the structures from new local timber, H4 grade treated Radiata pine and finish the exercise structures with the recycled aluminium.
And so it was that the adult playground was built. The equipment has been designed so that adult members of the community can use the structures without it requiring a high level of fitness and that starting to use them should not be a big stretch. They are built strongly so that several adults can use them at the same time. The community wanted to ensure they would be easy for locals to use in conjunction with the small walking / running track surrounding the equipment. Top of mind was the concept that one or two movements on the exercise structures each visit was better than no movements.
They have been finished in vivid colours to harmonize with the children’s area and to help to make the equipment area look integrated.
There are four stations.
An orange one for pull-ups.
A blue one for step-ups - 4 steps up x 3 steps down.
A green one for push-ups.
And a purple one for sit-ups (which is still missing the foot ‘handles’ due to be fitted this week).
These ‘stations’ are spaced out around the perimeter of the Park so that adults and children can exercise and play together in safety all of the time.
The time finally came on Wednesday, 8 April to install the equipment in the playground and celebrate with a launch.
After such a long and beautiful summer it was sad that the rain had set in too heavily to hold the launch in the playground itself. Only a small group of people came along but those who did enjoyed the experience, including the Club’s photographer, Graham Craig, who recorded the historic moment.
In launching the new Park, Mayor Nick Leggett thanked members of the community for their work and said that this was how the Council would like to work with the community in even more parts of the city. The work represented the people who live in the community and the Council should be putting even more resources into this kind of work.
John Blackshaw, the previous Chair of the Residents’ Association and the community member who led the consultation for the redevelopment said, ‘today we have this amazing park. It started from very simple things, an idea that asked the question – what sorts of things do you think could make a difference to our community? Walking through Calliope Park in the past, the playground was 20-30 years old and the kids in the community treated it as if it was nasty and worn out. And it was. So we asked the question, ”how about we just make the playground better?” - and the whole idea of the village planning came about’.
John said that all the kids use the new park now and it fills a space in the community. It’s a really special area. Just as people’s homes represent the feelings they put in to them, so it is with the new park. Depending on people’s involvement with it, they feel as if they own the space – that the space is important. This was what had encouraged the residents to start dreaming about what the space could look like in the first place.
The whole community really does own the space that has been created. Now it is bright and colourful and attracts the families. Additional lights shine at night and the space has been made safer. An exercise group is coming down to use the new equipment.
It was great to see what Mayor Nick Leggett had to say about the value of communities working together.
John offered a big thank you to the Council, to the Residents Association and the residents and for all the work that had been done. He thanked Plimmerton Rotary for what they had achieved with the old playground equipment in transforming it into an adult play area. It meant so much to his community that Plimmerton Rotary would have put all that effort in for the Cannons Creek community. He hoped that perhaps in the future there would be more opportunities for members of Cannons Creek and Plimmerton Rotary to work together on resources and the equipment to make a real difference to the quality of life in the Creek.
John believes that the whole village plan idea and process is unique to Porirua. He wanted to encourage the Council to continue with the village plan as he considered that the results have been huge for the Cannons Creek community.
Members of the Residents Association cut the cake. Everyone talked about what had been achieved and what dreams might be fulfilled in the future while enjoying the Cannons Creek Residents Association’s wonderful hospitality.