Auckland Council is considering creating play spaces for big kids, on the back of a document highlighting the benefits play holds for pensioners.

The Council discussion document, Tākaro - Investing in Play, looks at benefits, demand and challenges to play, ahead of an investment plan for spending on recreational areas.

The document said play into adulthood and old age supported the continued development and maintenance of cognitive and behavioural functions gained as a child.

"It is also thought to help reverse cognitive decline in seniors with dementia," the report read.


Despite this, a gap was identified in the provision of play spaces designed to engage seniors.

Play was also found to be a "low priority" for both adults and children.

The document specifically looked at the benefits of play for the elderly, and how demand for play spaces built for adults and seniors could benefit an ageing population.

Examples used are swings in bus-stops in Montreal, and sand pits spread sporadically along sidewalks in Vauban, Germany.

Associate Director at the Human Potential Centre at AUT Scott Duncan told Newstalk ZB there was sufficient research behind the idea.

"I think its pretty obvious that play is great for all age groups - not just kids," he said.

"I think its a great idea, and i think if it did work it would be fantastic - especially for older adults."

Duncan said our westernised society tended to push play out once we left childhood - and it was problematic.


"As soon as we get to high school we say, 'be sensible now, we need to achieve things'."

"If we just played a bit more, we know that it increases brain function, we know it relieves stress, we know it makes us socialise and makes us happier people.

"Anything that can build that back into our community is a good thing."

The move follows closely after Auckland Council's resolve to become more "age-friendly".

Auckland Council's Environment and Community Committee last week joined World Health Organisation Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities - along with around 600 other cities.

Membership of the group involved a commitment to creating age-friendly spaces, and ensuring the city was inclusive and beneficial to everyone.

Councillor Penny Hulse, who chaired the committee, said the global network would foster information sharing between cities worldwide.

"Auckland will be home to larger numbers and greater proportions of ethnically and culturally diverse older people over the next few decades," she said.

"Our older population is growing faster than any other age-group and is predicted to increase from 11 per cent in 2013 to 19 per cent by 2046."

The Council report recognised scope to deliver more play activation through local programmes and physical spaces like pop-up playgrounds.