Every Friday morning, on the edge of the former residential red zone, a group of enthusiastic children pull on their gardening gloves and pick up their shovels, ready for some hard mahi.
The students are in Years 4 to 6 at Banks Avenue School and for the past five years they have been working to bring their vision of the ultimate playground to life.
The playground is called Adventure Ave and has two huts, climbing ladders, a bridge and lots of room to play.
The students have obtained funding from a number of sources, including Christchurch City Council’s Red Zones Transitional Use Fund which has allowed them to design and install the playground. They have also helped to develop the land around it, planting hundreds of native plants, creating a bike track and assisting with this year’s planting of 4000 native plants around Dudley Stream.
Now they are working on making the playground accessible for people with different abilities.
Ten-year-old Oscar B is the students’ foreman. He leads the team delegating the jobs and urging them on when the going gets tough.
“My job is to listen and see what jobs people want to do. Everybody has a favourite thing, some people like mulching and weeding while others like digging and building.” Oscar says.
“My favourite job was building the playground. I loved using the drop saws and nail guns.”
Oscar is in his last year as foreman, but says he is going to come back and help when he can. He wants people to come to the playground and see the hard work they have been doing.
“People can make friends here, they can have family meetups and have fun.”
Avon-Ōtākaro Network Manager Hayley Guglietta has been assisting the group, teaching them key skills in planting, environment management, tool management, problem-solving and team work.
“It’s all about the kids and how they want to lead this project. They come up with the ideas for the space, they design it, they make the decisions and then they are the ones putting in the hard work to create it,” says Hayley.
“They are the kaitiaki, the guardians of this area. The idea is that they’re going to create a space they love that can be used for future generations to come who can also continue to build and develop the land. There is so much potential.”
Adventure Ave is open to the public and can be accessed from Banks Avenue, Woodchester Avenue or River Road.