Excitement was overflowing at Sunset Primary School this week as children and the community came together to celebrate fun new facilities.

Sunset Primary School celebrated the official opening of its new recreation facilities with a community celebration on Tuesday afternoon.

The opening event provided a chance for local children to test out the new biking facilities, play on the new playground, enjoy a free sausage sizzle, music, and two bikes were given away thanks to Widespan Sheds.

The event also included a blessing, and the school named their new playground 'Te Mana tū – Building resilience' and the new bike and pump track as 'Te Ara angitu – The road to success'.

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During the opening event, Sunset Primary School principal Eden Chapman thanked the community for being at the opening.

"It's lovely to see so much vibrancy here at the school and thank you for your support."

He says the new facilities have been a year-long project and he is so excited and delighted to have it here for the school and its community.

Eden says the playground and bike track are really busy outside of schools hours and there will always be an open gate allowing the community access.

"It's important for me that this is a community space, and something for the community to be part of and to look after."

Rotorua deputy mayor Dave Donaldson thinks it would even the hardest of hearts to see how active and excited the children were as they enjoyed recreation on these wonderful facilities.

"I think if you saw what was here before these developments, it is a cause for celebration."

During his speech at the opening, Dave says it is great to celebrate the opening of the new playground facility and biking track, which he thinks is amazing.

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"Our neighbourhoods are positively impacted by their environments. We hope you will take pride and own this amazing facility."

Pupils enjoying some swinging fun on the Sunset Primary School playground. Photo / Stephen Parker
Pupils enjoying some swinging fun on the Sunset Primary School playground. Photo / Stephen Parker

Collaborative thinking by Sunset Primary School and Rotorua Lakes Council in 2019 optimised opportunities for local tamariki through the Ko Te Tuara Totara o Fordlands (Fordlands Reinvigoration Project) and the Child Equity Programme.

Late last year, Sunset Primary was able to implement the Bikes in Schools initiative with funding and facilitation from the Bike on Trust to buy bikes, helmets and on site storage.

They also received an asphalt bike track and mountain bike track from council for use by local families as well as students.

The school also secured enough funding through multiple contributors to be able to design and build a new, exciting space for play.

The contributors were Rotorua Lakes Council, The Lion Foundation, One Foundation, New Zealand Community Trust and Southern Trust.

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Principal Eden Chapman says without this support the facilities would have not been in place or much smaller, and would have had to all come out of the school's pocket.

Parent Jay Lesa says the new recreation facilities are awesome and the celebration is positive for the community.

"It's really great for the kids, it's simple and safe for them. It's a big improvement."

He says he is a local barber at Honey Comb hair salon, and does a lot of haircuts for some of these kids.

"It's great to see them playing safely and coming together."

Pele Lesa, 5, and Peter Lesa, 4, say they like the playground and bike and pump track.

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They like going fast on the bike track and say there is a lot to do on the playground.