Playground upgrade 'goes down a treat'
Play time has reached new levels at a Horowhenua primary school, with a spick-and-span playground upgrade.
Morning tea and lunchtime have become manic occasions at Opiki School, with the opening of a new $50,000 playground.
More than 18 months of planning, fundraising and building have come to fruition, with pupils racing to get prime position on the school's new playground when the bell rings, principal Bede Gilmore says.
It was like "ants to a honey pot" whenever class was let out, with the school's 100-plus pupils able to comfortably fit on the new equipment.
"They did have to wait until morning tea time to use it, but the sound of happy kids just loving it was great to hear," he said.
Opiki used to have an old fort, slide and flying fox, but the equipment had aged and the school community decided it was time for something more suitable.
The board of trustees, with help from the Home and School Association, ran fundraisers, rallied pupils and parents, and got outside grants from community groups, including Pub Charity, Infinity and Endeavour foundations, Eastern and Central Community Trust.
The new 10-metre by 10m play space has a dozen stations with various activities including climbing frames, spinning wheels and monkey bars.
The favoured activity so far, including among the teachers, was the "muscle buster", which was like a flying fox that required a pedalling arms action to move it, Gilmore said.
"Evidently that's a bit of a hit . . . and it's great for the kids' muscular development."
A top-notch playground was an overdue addition to the school and the wider community, Gilmore said.
"This is what we lacked in our school, so it's great we've come up with something that was different to what we had."