John Weekes is an NZME News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Playground sunshade petition launched

Tianze Wang, 3, of Eastern Auckland, plays on the playground at Sherwood Reserve where new sunshades have gone up.  Photo / Nick Reed
Tianze Wang, 3, of Eastern Auckland, plays on the playground at Sherwood Reserve where new sunshades have gone up. Photo / Nick Reed

More than 1000 people have signed a mother's petition urging councils to provide shade at playgrounds to protect kids from skin cancer and heat-related risks.

Mother of two Maria Foy said parents she spoke to often raised concerns about sunburn, heatstroke and overheated equipment at playgrounds.

Mrs Foy told the Herald she began her petition to gauge public opinion on the merits of providing shade at playgrounds.

The change.org petition echoed concerns Safe Kids and the Cancer Society raised in 2014. Those groups urged councils to provide sun shades for a playground after complaints children were getting burned on overheating equipment at a Hamilton park.

And a woman complained to the New Plymouth District Council last month, saying her 22-month-old granddaughter was burned on an overheated mat at Pukekura Park.

The stay-at-home mum's petition, launched on Saturday night, attracted hundreds of signatures within hours, and what she called a "passionate" public response.

She said councils should consider provisions for shade at any new playground.

Mrs Foy, of Mangere, said the quality of playgrounds across Auckland and New Zealand varied widely but even some new playgrounds had no cover.

"Things like this I feel should be looked at ... There needs to be some sort of consideration for children and the heat."

She said the issue was an especially hot topic on Saturday, "a prime example because it was a scorcher".

Mrs Foy said the "slip, slop, slap" sun-protection mantra did not cover all risks children faced in exposed playgrounds. "When that sun is just beating down, and it's relentless, there's no shade, then it can start to affect them ... overheating, dehydration. So it's more than just about getting burned.

"This is not limited to Auckland City residents ... once this gets going this needs to be mandatory across New Zealand," Mrs Foy's petition added.

Auckland Council operates more than 700 playgrounds.

- NZ Herald

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