I'm a writer blogger who has been resident in the Hutt Valley since the late 1960's. I'm a father, grandfather and great-grandfather. I have seen many people come and go over the years, seen many things good and bad. Time to remember life...
Published January 9th 2016
After months of eager anticipation another phoenix-rising project has been realised in Christchurch City. The "Margaret Mahy Playground", named after the New Zealand born international children's author. It is the largest children's and family playground in Australasia and most likely in the southern hemisphere as well. The opening was on December 22nd 2015, just days before Christmas.
The opening ceremony for this multi-million dollar project was met with spontaneous squeals of delight from the many children present. You can't hold back kiwi kids. After the stress and misery after the 2010/2011 earthquakes, Christchurch people needed a good dose of positivity. Hundreds of multi-coloured balloons were released skywards. Safety fences were taken down to allow the children into the playground.
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee officially opened the complex. There was live music, clowns and performers wearing stilts, and lunch was provided for the invited guests, mostly children who had been involved in the design of the playground and a colouring competition.
The Christchurch City CBD has sometimes been described as a bombsite with 70% of buildings damaged beyond repair or demolished for public safety reasons.
The developing block between the Avon River and some of the main streets cost about $20 million dollars, including the landscaping of the whole block, of which the playground makes up just a third, and the costs of the land and installation of the equipment. It was a sort of phoenix rising indeed; it is the site of the former Centennial Pool and other landmarks.
There were many teary-eyed adults as beaming children descended on the playground. It will certainly be a central location for both local families and tourists this summer.
The idea to develop the area came from the Christchurch City Council "Share an idea" campaign after the earthquakes of 2010/2011 turned many parts of the CBD into a warzone. The playground was a place for families to play and relax in the central city. It is now a reality and in time will be a Christchurch icon. A place not just for locals, but for visitors from across the Tasman and other exotic places too.