Ōmokoroa will be home to a $1.04 million playground replacing the existing, outdated one on the domain foreshore.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council's policy committee has approved development of the playground which will be part of a total revamp of the surrounding Ōmokoroa Domain and Esplanade, in partnership with the community and local tangata whenua Pirirākau hapū.
The new playground, which will include swings, trampolines, tunnels, climbing structures and a hamster wheel, is the result of an extensive 18-month community engagement period with tangata whenua, representatives of the elderly, health and disability communities, local businesses and the five local schools within Pirirākau's rohe – Omokoroa No 1, Omokoroa Point, Pahoia, Whakamarama and Te Puna.
The schools' involvement was key to the final concept plan as pupils took part in modelling their own creations of what they envisioned in the playground.
These artworks were publicly displayed at an open day in Ōmokoroa last year – and the children coined the word "fantastical" to reflect their vision.
Western Bay of Plenty Council reserves and facilities projects and asset manager Scott Parker said the playground was an exciting project which, when completed, would create a new recreation experience for all visitors to Omokoroa Domain.
"It is really important to create a playground that is reflective of all community voices and makes sure we have the social spaces to let people connect with their neighbourhood, their whānau and each other.
"The project team valued the input and great enthusiasm of the local school children and we did our best to reflect their ideas in the final concept design."
The new playground will also see time called on two old family favourites – the tractor and lullaby swing. The two nostalgic pieces of equipment attracted considerable community sentiment through the public consultation phase, with concern about their proposed removal and replacement.
However, due to safety concerns, solutions to replace the lullaby with a modern equivalent and retire the tractor and return it to its original owner have been discussed with the Omokoroa Community Board, who support the final concept design.
Parker said although the price tag of the playground project was high in comparison to other playgrounds across the district, it was not just about replacing playground equipment.
"Given its location, it is actually about rejuvenating the main entrance into the Domain as well as replacing the very tired old playground with a new fit-for-purpose destination play space, appropriate to the needs of a growing community.
"Omokoroa Domain is a recreation focal point for the Ōmokoroa community and visitors throughout the year and it justifies an appropriate level of investment.
"We're also working with Pirirākau to ensure the cultural elements of the design is reflected in the build."
The playground is part of the wider Omokoroa Domain Concept Plan which includes several other future upgrades in addition to the playground.
Construction of the playground is expected to start in March 2021 and be completed by June 2021. The upgrade cost of $1.04m is funded through a mixture of existing asset renewal funding and capital works funding.