Palmerston North police and Fire Service take up Palmy Rocks
Palmerston North may be the least sunny city in the country, but it has the brightest rocks.
Since the 2016 July school holidays, the distribution of hand-painted collectible Palmy Rocks around city parks for families to find, promoted by Heather Knox, has taken off, with the idea catching on around the country.
These holidays, Palmy Rocks has been taken to another level entirely.
Detective Constable Nick Parlane from Palmerston North police had enjoyed the opportunity the idea provided to get out with his own children in search of the rocks.
"We got into the rock hunting adventures. There was a bit of rivalry about who could find the most, and running ahead to find them first. It got me thinking about how we could get involved from the police perspective, and as a way of promoting positive interaction between young people and police."
And so "Cop Rocks" came about.
"Police Palmy Rocks just evolved. I talked to the boss, area commander Sarah Stewart, and she was very supportive," Parlane said.
The detective painted three rocks, hid them, and invited families via the Central Districts Police Facebook page with a post saying, "Are you a detective? Have you found one of our Police Palmy Rocks?". Those who hunt them out get a goodie bag prize.
When the rocks were brought in, he re-hid them in a different park.
"There's one or two handed in each day and I haven't made them that easy to find."
However, Parlane has been gazumped by the Palmerston North Fire Brigade. Station officer Bevan Clark saw the police idea and unashamedly pinched it.
Instead of decorating the rocks himself, Clark upped the artistic ante by commissioning prolific Palmy Rocks painter Bronwyn Bateman to produce six Fire Service themed rocks.
The reward to finders who post pictures of themselves with the "Fire Rocks" is "some close-up fire engine time".
The Fire Service Facebook page attracted 50,000 views in just a couple of days and had reached nearly 93,500 on Thursday, along with pictures of happy children holding their finds.
"That's the beauty of Palmy Rocks," Bateman said. "When the kids find them it's like winning Lotto."
Not that things between police and fire have become at all competitive, but having seen the Fire Service rocks, Parlane admits he might have to find colleagues who have more artistic flare.
Bateman said she'd be quite happy to paint rocks for the police.
The city council's Aaron Phillips has taken a keen interest in the Facebook responses to the promotions and the "reach" Palmy Rocks was achieving.
"It's fascinating to see this combination of art and recreation and wonderful how such a small idea has snowballed into something so big," Phillips said.