Participate Palmy

Draft play policy

We’re making a commitment to reflect a playful, fun and flexible approach in all our public spaces, facilities, events and activities.

Photo shows collage of families and children playing in local parks.

Play provides opportunities to improve everyone’s wellbeing.

Last year we asked you to share your ideas to help us plan for play. We’ve considered all your feedback and drafted a policy that will guide our decisions relating to play. Once approved, it will guide our operational staff in their day-to-day work across various areas of Council.

Feedback on the draft policy closed on Monday 18 January 2021. Thank you to everyone who had a say.

Download the draft policy:

What is play?

Play is activity for enjoyment and recreation – that is, activity that is freely chosen for fun, creativity and personal challenge. Play provides a foundation to improve people’s individual wellbeing, as well as bringing broader community benefits. There is global and national concern that a lack of play experience can limit individual physical, social and mental growth, and the development of lifelong skills such as communication, conflict resolution and risk assessment.

Why is play important?

Sport New Zealand Ihi Aotearoa has recognised play as a national taonga. It is concerned that the levels of play of our children and young people are in decline.

Taking a proactive stance on reversing this trend, it has called on councils to develop their capacity for play through preparing play policies, strategies or frameworks.

Policy will guide Council's approach to play

The policy will guide Council’s decision-making and commitment to provide a range of play opportunities in several operational areas:

  • Parks and reserves planning, management and development
  • Facility programming and development e.g. at libraries and aquatic centres
  • Urban design response to public space infrastructure development
  • Placemaking activities such as street activation
  • Community events and activities
  • Support to strategic partners such as Rangitāne o Manawatū and Sport Manawatū

How will the policy be used?

Our Active Community Plan identified a need for a policy that outlines our commitment to provide for a range of play opportunities for different age groups.

The proposed policy takes the high-level direction in the Active Community Plan down to a level where more specific guidance will enable staff to effect changes in our approach to providing and managing play spaces in Palmy.

It should allow us to improve our investment in play, with better strategic outcomes.

How was the proposed policy developed?

We examined research, reviewed national and international literature as well as our play-relevant plans, strategies and frameworks, and undertook a 'play scan' using Social Pinpoint, an interactive digital platform for community engagement. We had 335 respondents who pinpointed nearly 90 different places as play spaces around Palmy, and identified more than 80 different ways of “playing”.

Community engagement also informed the development of the proposed policy. This included engagement through the Rangitāne o Manawatū bi-monthly forum, focus groups, the Disability Reference Group, and the community survey. We also provided opportunities for discussion at a variety of community events, including Park Run, the Milverton Park playground opening, the Whānau Fun Day, and the Linton Family Fun Day.

The policy development process has identified many issues and opportunities, including:

  • Compared to national physical activity statistics (Active NZ survey), Palmy people play less and are also less physically active.
  • Palmy could be more play-friendly, and playful, and there is scope to improve fun and create playful moments through recreation planning, urban design and placemaking initiatives.
  • Our playgrounds cater mainly for the needs of young children, do not necessarily reflect the unique qualities or the communities they are in (lack a sense of place or reflect cultural values), and are mainly focused on physical play at a fixed place.

Read more in our report to Council: