It's one of the best playgrounds in the region, but Wairoa's Destination Playground hasn't always been child's play.

The near-million-dollar playground was built and opened late last year after a concerted community effort.

At a recent event, Wairoa Safe Communities Coordinator Ngaire Sparkes said the focus had shifted to offering a helping hand to Wairoa youth.

"Unfortunately, we have had some problems around vandalism at the playground, bullying and kids being left here for hours-on-end unattended," she said.

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"So, what we wanted to do was run an event to raise awareness of the issues and bring everyone together, to be able to get to know each other on a better, deeper level... and just to have bit of fun really."

The event attracted several hundred people and dunking community leaders into water by children received the loudest cheers.

Safe Communities is working alongside other local community groups to find solutions to the playground problem and better engage with young people.

"We have actually selected a handful of people we have asked to step forward – I guess you could call them champions for youth," Sparkes said.

"A lot of them already work with youth - they're rugby coaches, school teachers.

"It's just knowing, if they are experiencing problems, that they can go and talk to these people and these people know what resources are available in the community to help the young people."

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