Painted in bright and inviting colours, Onekawa School's new buddy benches have been created to reduce loneliness and encourage friendship in the playground.

The school's PTA, Team Pipi, were inspired to create their own bench after co-chair, Jo Breslin noticed the concept at another school.

Breslin said it was a great way to share the message of inclusion and kindness.

"It's a non-verbal way for kids to communicate that they're in need of a friend or someone to talk to."


And with Bullying-Free NZ week, which culminated in Pink Shirt Day on Friday, Team Pipi decided there was no better time to introduce it to their 340 year 0-6 students at assembly.

Team Pipi member Sarah Knight said it removed any stigma and shyness associated with making friends.

"For some people who are a bit shy to go and join in with someone else's game, it is just a way of allowing them to take their time to get involved."

It also provides an opportunity for teachers to identify any students who are repeatedly using the bench and address to any issues, she said.

"It is a chance for all of them to make new friends with people who they wouldn't ordinarily play with."

Principal Steve Bloor says it builds on the "lovely environment" they already have at the school.

"It is all about those kids who see children there to make a new friend or see someone in need and want to help, so it is a two-way thing."

He said it has been a "lovely collaboration" between Team Pipi and staff who both saw the need and came together to make it happen.


Team Pipi member Fiona Windle hopes it will encourage other schools who are not already using the initiative, to introduce a similar concept.

"It is about letting kids know that we are unique and different and sometimes everyone does need a little bit of a helping hand every now and then."

The benches were provided by Trade Tested, and Complete Paints in Napier supplied the paint.