A call has gone out to establish an "Apanui Army" after the Whakatāne school's senior playground was destroyed by fire earlier this month.

School principal Simon Akroyd said the focus on rebuilding the playground, dubbed Operation Phoenix, was keeping a zero budget so there was "little-to-no financial hardship" for the school.

The plan was to complete Operation Phoenix in 30 days.

"I've been blown away by the way the kids, their whānau, local businesses and the wider community have put their hands up to help put things right again," Akroyd said.

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A playground at Apanui School was engulfed in flames earlier this month. Photo / Supplied
A playground at Apanui School was engulfed in flames earlier this month. Photo / Supplied

"I've had people come forward with a huge array of ideas, and we really want to capture all that energy and make something happen while there is momentum," he says. "We've come up with a plan and we're confident we can achieve this target – we just need everyone to chip in for the kids."

Akroyd said Operation Phoenix was already under way with students sharing their ideas for the design of the replacement playground, and guidance provided from the Whakatāne District Council on safety standard requirements.

"There are still details to be finalised but we're aiming for a two-day mucking in building project for December 6 and 7," he said. "We're keen to make it a whānau event with entertainment for the kids, kai to share and the opportunity to help on either day.

"We're now seeking to build an Apanui Army of helpers for the event, and calling for support from builders, hammer hands and people who are just keen to get stuck in whatever form they can and make this happen."