News & Events

Inclusivity and water play key features in park revamp

Sunday May 10 2020

Construction is getting underway at Memorial Park this month. When complete, it will include the region’s first free outdoor splashpad, and a brand new fully accessible playground.

Photo shows computer generated graphic of children and adults at new poppy-themed playground.

The poppy-themed playground references the park's memorial theme.

The upgrades will cost $1.2 million. Palmerston North City Council is funding half of the $500,000 splashpad. $15,000 has come from Mainland Foundation, and we’re waiting to hear back on an application for the remaining $235,000.

The other work will be funded from our park upgrades budget.

Splashpad expected to be regional drawcard

Construction on the splashpad will be started once funding is secured.

It will be the only one in our region and free to use, and will sit next to the current paddling pool.

The splashpad has separate areas for babies and toddlers, and older children.

The section for under-fives is physically separated from the older kids’ area by the main footpath, and also has a barrier around it to keep them safe. Within this area there is also a smaller section for babies.

The all-ages area includes the southern hemisphere’s only free supersoaker – a giant bucket that tips water.

PNCC Chief Infrastructure Officer, Tom Williams, says the splashpad is more than just fun.

“We’re committed to ensuring Palmy kids feel safe around water. Our free trial for under-fives at our pools, and these free water-based activities show how importantly we take this.”

Upgrade will include most accessible playground and family area in the city

The poppy-themed playground will sit where the current playground is, but be on a far larger scale.

There’ll be one major playground for all ages which will feature climbing tubes, slides, ramps, swings, balancing balls and ropes, climbing walls and fall nets.

The toddler playground has a slide, bridge and tunnel. Both playgrounds feature large poppies coming out of the structures to draw on the park’s history and provide shade.

Mr Williams says the playground has been designed with ramps so everyone can play together.

“Currently the play equipment at the park for disabled children is off to the side and fenced in. We want our parks and playgrounds to be as inclusive as possible, so we use upgrades like this as an opportunity to include features to allow all children and their caregivers to play together.”

Water fountains and barbecues will also be accessibility friendly.

The current playground is being taken apart and will be reused in other parks in the city.

Memorial theme runs strongly throughout the park

One of the key things residents wanted during consultation was a stronger connection to the memorial name. As part of our development plan, odes to history and war-time will feature throughout the park. That will be from murals on the buildings, the recently installed gun at the entrance, through to the poppies that come out of the splashpad and playground.

The upgrades have been designed so the whole park is a memorial, rather than just a typical concrete structure.

Park will remain open during construction

The upgrades are being completed by a number of small Manawatū contractors. The materials all come from within New Zealand, other than the splashpad equipment, which comes from Canada.

The playground and pool area, which were already closed due to Covid-19, have been fenced off in preparation for construction beginning. Throughout construction the skating rink, sportsfields, grassy area, duck pond and toilets will be open for use. The lower carpark will be closed for the contractors’ machinery, and for safety reasons.

The upper carpark will remain open and people can access the park from the multiple pedestrian gates.

A celebration to look forward to

This work is expected to be completed before December, dependent on funding.

Tom Williams hopes the upgrades give the city something to look forward to.

“We know how hard it has been for families to have been unable to use our playgrounds over the last six weeks, so we hope this provides them with some hope and excitement for summer. Last year our city fell back in love with Milverton Park after that playground was upgraded, and we have no doubt Memorial Park will be the same.”