When Strathmore children go to one of their favourite parks they could soon be able to pick a free meal.
The planting of fruit trees in the Taiaroa St play area is being promoted by the Pacific Advisory Group of Wellington City Council.
Fetu-ole-moana Tamapeau, the advisory group's Samoan representative, said the fruit trees would provide healthy snacks for Strathmore children, many whose families struggle for healthy options.
"There's been a [political] kerfuffle around removing GST on fruit and veg," said Ms Tamapeau, who at 26 is the youngest member of the advisory group.
"Why should we argue about our kids needing healthy food? We, as a society, seem to have a fear of free food. It's ridiculous."
She said Strathmore children "use the park to death", and many of them are Pacific Islanders.
"There are families in Strathmore who have less money than they should to live a healthy lifestyle," said Ms Tamapeau, who played basketball in the park as a youngster.
"It's all about increasing physical and emotional health and rejuvenating areas where kids go all the time."
Ms Tamapeau and the advisory group will soon discuss the idea with the council and consult with Strathmore community groups.
She said the trees would help beautify an otherwise bleak landscape.
"The playground will look like it's living and breathing. It will fit in with Wellington being a clean, green city."
Despite the Taiaroa St play area recently being upgraded by the council, Ms Tamapeau said there had "not been as much love" put into the park as into play areas in the central city.
"There are disparities between playgrounds in Wellington. Playgrounds should not be just for show," she said.
"I'm concerned we will forget about the suburbs."
Council officer Myfanwy Edeny said the council had funded similar community orchard projects through its grants scheme.
She said that during the upgrade of the Taiaroa St play area, the council recommended planting the fruit trees as part of the community garden on the Housing New Zealand land adjacent to the park.
"If the Housing New Zealand concept doesn't work out, then we are happy to discuss the proposal [planting the trees in the park] with the Pacific Advisory Group."
Ms Edeny said groups usually got between $500 and $6000 for community orchards.
She said several parks in the eastern suburbs had been upgraded, including seven playgrounds within the Miramar Peninsula, and the reserve between Kekerenga and Tukanae streets in Strathmore.
Eastern ward councillor Leonie Gill said the addition of the fruit trees would complement the work that had been done to upgrade the play area.
- The Wellingtonian