A friendship bench stationed under a tree at a school on Auckland's North Shore is helping to combat loneliness by encouraging kids to branch out and make new friends.
The bench at Chelsea Primary School, in Chatswood, was created after a teacher noticed a similar concept - a friendship area - at another school.
Principal Amanda Douglas said the bench, which was placed at the corner of the school field under a tree, had been hugely popular in the week since it was introduced.
It was discussed at a school assembly and advertised in school notices so students knew how to use it properly.
"For our kids it's really important that if they're feeling at a loss or they don't know how to engage in a group, that there is a place they can go to," Douglas said.
"It might not be that they don't have friends, but their friends might be at an activity that they're not involved in. Everyone knows that if someone is sitting there, they might need some support or might not know how to get involved."
Year 5 pupil Hanna Blackburn was an early backer of the initiative.
While she hadn't sat on it herself, she'd plucked other kids from it, to include in her games.
"I think it's a really good idea to have the friendship bench," she said.
"It's a sign our school has lots of kindness, and that kind of thing."
Isaac Hollis, who usually played Pokemon or kicked a ball with his friends down near the hall, hadn't used the seat yet - but said he would.
If he spied a potential pal on the seat next time he was playing ball, he would encourage them to join in, he said.
The year 2 student thought the bench might also be handy next time he was a little lonely.
"Some of my friends sometimes don't let me play with them," he told the Herald.
Amanda Douglas said while the bench was currently plain, it would soon be spruced up by the school's year 6 pupils, before they headed to intermediate.
"We're going to ask one of our senior classes to design some graphics and things, then paint it," she said.
"Maybe some nice little quotes about friendship or something."