Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

Swings being replaced at Auckland playgrounds amid child safety fears

Workman install new swings at Delphine Reserve. Photo / Michael Craig
Workman install new swings at Delphine Reserve. Photo / Michael Craig

T-bar swings are being removed from Auckland playgrounds after a set suddenly failed while being used by a child.

Auckland Council is spending about $220,000 replacing the 87 T-bar swings at 69 sites around the city after the recent incident on Waiheke Island.

"The issue was brought to our attention after a set of swings collapsed at Oneroa Beach on Waiheke in mid-June," Ian Maxwell, Auckland Council's director of community services, told the Herald on Sunday.

"A kid was playing on the swing when it failed with no visual warning but fortunately the child wasn't injured."

The T-bar swings were installed at parks and playgrounds around Auckland between 15 and 20 years ago. Metal fatigue and rust on the pipe which secures them into the ground is believed to be the cause of the problem.

"We treat the safety of youngsters very seriously and we have decided to replace all the T-bar swings with classic models which hang from an overhead frame," Maxwell said. "You can't take a chance with things like this.

"Our play equipment is inspected on a regular basis but we didn't pick this problem up because the damage was on a bit of the pipe which can't be seen as it is under the ground."

Following the Waiheke incident the council had rushed through an emergency programme to take the ageing T-bar swings out of operation.

"The old swings have been decommissioned and the seats removed so they are no longer usable," Maxwell said. "The new sets we are putting in are more robust and more stable."

The rollout is expected to take 8-9 months and swings will be replaced at playgrounds at popular Auckland spots such as One Tree Hill and St Mary's Bay.

The first of the new sets are presently being installed at Delphine Close in the suburb of Mt Albert, at a cost of about $2500 each.

"The swings we are now using are locally made," Maxwell added. "Hopefully kids will find them to be fun and enjoyable."

- NZ Herald

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