Kaitaia's newly revamped playground won approval from its most important critics: whānau who will use the facility.

Jaycee Playground on Centennial Park, better known as Jaycee Park, was officially reopened on Friday, a week ahead of schedule.

The upgrade to the playground included a nautical-themed area suitable for toddlers and more swings for all ages, including a parent-and-toddler swing.

Karis Roberts, 18, who attended the opening with her three younger siblings, said the revamped playground was a big improvement.

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Jahsteen Dunn, 3, climbs on the playground at Jaycee Park, which now accommodates all levels.
Jahsteen Dunn, 3, climbs on the playground at Jaycee Park, which now accommodates all levels.

"I quite like how it's got a playground for the little kids - before it was quite hard for the little kids to go down the slide," she said.

Micah Tawhara, from He Whanau Marama Trust and SHINE on Kaitaia, said the revamp was an amazing improvement on the playground, which was infamous for being "more bark than park".

"Before it could've been easy to just walk past. Now we're looking forward to heaps of our kids coming down," she said.

Five-year-old Waimarie Dunn gets plenty of joy out of the play equipment.
Five-year-old Waimarie Dunn gets plenty of joy out of the play equipment.

The playground was a joint effort between Far North District Council and Te Hiku Community Board, and the community, including members of the Friends of Jaycee Park Facebook page, she said.

Community board chair Adele Gardner said it had been more than 40 years since the playground got an upgrade.

The nautical theme reflected Kaitaia's history, where boats used to come up the river, she said.

Councillor Felicity Foy said the playground was the first step in transforming Centennial Park into a "destination park" for the town.

The council had engaged a landscape architect to plan how the park could link the main street with Te Ahu Centre and Te Hiku Sports Hub.

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"It will be a vibrant space for youth and the whole community to spend time," Foy said.
The community would be consulted along the way, she said.

The playground was funded with Te Hiku Community Board's $33,000 placemaking fund and $20,000 from the board's other funding sources.

The council had committed a further $52,000 to shared cycling and walking tracks through the park. Foy also hoped to see more funding committed in the upcoming annual plan.