Christmas has come early for the children of Kāwhia with the opening of the coastal town's new playground.
Three years ago the, at the completion of the Pou Maumahara project (carved remembrance pillar), Kāwhia Community Projects Trust Incorporated identified that the existing playground was looking very tired.
"Ōtorohanga District Council didn't have any plans to upgrade it or any of the equipment so we thought that it would be a really good project for the trust to get involved with," says chairman of the Kāwhia Community Projects Trust Inc, Kit Jefferies.
The process didn't come without some hiccups though.
Once the trust was ready to have the build start, they learnt the land the playground was going to go on had no title.
Being reclaimed land, the matter was referred to Land Information New Zealand and is currently still with the department and Crown property.
"We walked away from the original site on council's advice purely to avoid any complications and we agreed to relocate to the area which is adjacent to the hall," says Kit.
To build on the current land the trust had to get approval from kaumātua of Ngati Hikairo who currently have a Waitangi Treaty claim over the land.
"They were aware that there was a Treaty claim on the land at the time that they gave their blessing; they said that as long as the project was for the benefit of the children then they had no issues with it going ahead at all," says Kit.
The playground officially opened on Friday, December 11 with Ōtorohanga mayor Max Baxter cutting the ribbon.
There were close to 100 people who attended including representatives from the Maori Women's Welfare League, Kāwhia School, Kāwhia Early Childhood Centre and some sponsors.
Students from Kāwhia School read the names from the sponsor's stone after it was blessed by John Puke.
Before the ceremony came to a close, John and Tony Puke blessed the whole site.
"It's been a long journey and so it feels really good to finally be able to hand it over to the community board and the council," says Kit.
"We've completed what we set out to do which was to provide a modern and challenging playground for the children here."
The playground features a climbing net, climbing walls, rope climbs, swings, a slide and a hamster wheel and sits on Jervois St adjacent to Kāwhia Harbour.
The trust had raised $107,000 towards the project.
Most of the equipment for the playground was supplied by Playground Creations and the sponsors were Devoy Signs, Gallagher Foundation, Kāwhia Community Board, Kāwhia Kai Festival Committee, Ōtorohanga Charitable Trust, Ōtorohanga District Council.
Ōtorohanga District Development Board, Pub Charity, Te Awamutu Rotary Club, Trust Waikato and Waipa Networks helped as well as the trust.
The hamster wheel was donated by the Kāwhia Kai Festival Committee and
council took on its refurbishment.
"The Kāwhia Community Projects Trust Inc acknowledges and thanks mana whenua for their support and all other who have contributed in any way towards this playground.
"Your generous spirit has ensured the success of this project."