A petition started by 8-year-old twins has won a promise from an Auckland local board to bring back monkey bars that were removed last year from an inner-city park.

Twins Ila and Jaya Patel gathered signatures from 210 of the 385 pupils at their Grey Lynn School and presented them to the Waitemata Local Board last week.

Board chair Pippa Coom said the board decided to ask officials to report on "the feasibility and cost of installing monkey bars or other challenging equipment in the
Grey Lynn Park playground" in time to include them in the budget for the next financial year starting on July 1.

"I'm sure we'll find a way of getting monkey bars into Grey Lynn Park," she said.


The twins' mother Zita Thomas said the victory showed the girls "democracy in action".

"They are only children, but adults have actually listened to them," she said.

The girls live nearby and said they used to play on the monkey bars "every day" until they were removed about seven months ago as part of a $402,000 replacement of all the playground equipment.

Jaya (left) and Ila Patel are not impressed by the new playground equipment. Photo / Greg Bowker
Jaya (left) and Ila Patel are not impressed by the new playground equipment. Photo / Greg Bowker

The new gear includes swings, a train-shaped slide, a boat-shaped see-saw, a spinning wheel, brightly painted wooden stepping stones, an upgraded flying fox and new wood-and-rope climbing structures which are not as high as the old steel monkey bars.

Apart from the flying fox, Ila and Jaya said there was now nothing suitable for children of their age.

"It's just for younger kids now," they said. "Now we only come here once or twice a week."

15 Apr, 2017 9:00am
6 minutes to read

"There was nothing wrong the way it was," Ila said. "There was little kids' equipment and big kids' equipment."

On the first day of school this year, the twins asked their teacher if they could use their literacy time to organise a petition and write letters to the council.

School principal Bill Barker let the twins promote the petition to the school assembly. They hand-wrote the petition forms asking simply, "Bring back monkey bars", and set up a table for children to sign them by the school's memory garden.

Coom and Labour MP Jacinda Ardern visited the school to receive the petition, and Jaya Patel addressed Coom's board when it considered the issue last week.

"I typed the speech," she said. "They asked a few questions such as, 'What would be a good thing to take out to replace with the monkey bars?'

"I said, 'That area where that short slide is, but there is quite a lot of space to put it there without taking anything away.'"

Ila (left) and Jaya Patel at the Waitematā Local Board meeting. Photo / Supplied
Ila (left) and Jaya Patel at the Waitematā Local Board meeting. Photo / Supplied

Coom said the board held workshops with children at other schools about new equipment installed this summer in several local playgrounds, but for some reason Grey Lynn School was not included.

She said the monkey bars were not removed because of any fear of injuries.

"At Grey Lynn Park you have a flying fox that has been renewed, so this is definitely not a push to make it safer," she said.

"It was fantastic to see that they [Ila and Jaya] identified that there was a problem and they wanted a fix so they went about it by doing a petition and getting 210 signatures and bringing it to the board.

"That means we can actually act on it. They have actually followed up in a way that means we can respond and hopefully come up with a solution."