Love central feature of youth park

JAMES GREENLAND
Last updated 13:00 12/06/2013
Playground

CHILLED OUT: Three new pieces of equipment, designed for young teens, form part of the park.

Tejas Arn
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
CENTREPIECE: Artist Tejas Arn works on an installation at the Tahunanui Youth Park, next to the Lions Playground.

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Nelson teens will have more space to hang out and more things to do after the completion of a new youth park in Tahunanui.

The project has been supported by the Nelson Youth Council which has been campaigning to create more recreational spaces for young people in Nelson.

"It will give Nelson youth another thing to do. Lack of things to do has been an ongoing concern for youth," the youth council said in a letter, thanking the Nelson City Council for funding.

The Tahuna Youth Park project, to be completed by the end of this month, costs $320,000. It will include shade sails, playground equipment, furniture and art, as well as lighting and planting.

A mosaic installation by Nelson artist Tejas Arn, in collaboration with five youth councillors, forms the centrepiece of the chillout space.

The design's four petals represent strength, balance, happiness, and unity - essential values for young people growing up, Mr Arn said.

The petals unite in the middle, forming the most important value, which is "love", he said.

Mr Arn said the piece would be finished and polished today, though brainstorming, design and preparation had taken weeks.

A council spokeswoman said the park will feature three new pieces of playground equipment, designed for young teens: a "BLOQX" climber, a "Miram" skate track and a "Supernova" roundabout.

A court and shaded seating area would give youth a place to relax, she said.

Nelson's 20 youth councillors had conducted a snapshot survey of young people in schools across the city, which they used to support their April submissions to the council's Annual Plan.

They also supported another new youth park, the Stoke Plaza. The wheels had come off their original plan for a skatepark in Stoke, but the Youth Council was still pushing for a youth hangout spot in the area.

They were beaming about a proposal for free wireless internet in the CBD, which was supported by 92 per cent of Nelson students.

Youth councillor Lucy Upton said she was passionate about that idea, because wi-fi access was something all Nelsonians, especially young people, would benefit from.

Being a modern initiative, it made sense for youth to stand behind it, she said. "No offence to adults, but sometimes adults don't understand [the internet]."

Installing lighting on the Railway Reserve was another well-supported policy, unofficially backed by 80 per cent of Nelson teens.

Carla Lindley said the youth council had been advocating for lighting for about three years, and that support had grown since a recent spate of violent attacks on the reserve, which was used daily by teens getting to and from school.

"Everyone knows it's not safe at night," the 17-year-old said.

The youth councillors said they were supported extremely well by the city council, and especially councillors such as Pete Rainey who dedicated his time to hearing their ideas.

Mr Rainey said all of the Youth Council's submissions to the Annual Plan were welcomed and had been fully considered, alongside public submissions.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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