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Play Streets are easy – and fun!

Play Streets are easy – and fun!

Tamariki at a Play Streets event

Hopscotch, chalk drawing and a big parachute were the top play activities for tamariki and their whānau at a recent Play Street in Palmerston North. 

Resident, Somayyeh Ghaffari and Palmerston North City Council Play Advisor, Manumea Durie worked together to make the Play Street a reality. 

Pay streets event with two tamariki playing jump rope and hopscotchSomayyeh, who has lived on the street for five years, thought it would be cool to get to know her neighbours better. So, she invited them to the Play Street by placing flyers in the neighbours’ letterboxes and taking opportunities to chat with them further. 

“Most of the neighbours came along – and to see all the kids playing and getting to know each other – that was wonderful,” said Somayyeh. 

“My favourite thing about Play Streets is that they’re really easy. It’s just a matter of getting in touch with us at the local council and so long as your street is a cul-de-sac or fairly quiet with low traffic volume, you’re pretty much good to go,” said Manumea. 

“We can provide games and drop off cones to help with traffic management. We try and keep it as easy as possible.” 

A huge part of Manumea’s role – as a play advisor – is about helping people to get out and play as much as possible, in their own way.  

“Play is not just for playgrounds – but everywhere, including our neighbourhood streets as opportunities for play,” said Manumea. 

“We know that as we’ve experienced various changes over time, like those related to the impacts of increased housing density in our cities, how we use technology, and fears around tamariki safety playing in their neighbourhoods, the amount of free play time our kids have access to has significantly declined.  

“Our Council adopted its play policy in 2021, which is essentially about seeing play as an everywhere and everyone activity. Everyone in our community has a right to play.” 

“We’re a growing city, so being able to offer something like a Play Street that allows neighbours to connect and kids to get out and have the freedom to roam, play and feel safe, is fantastic,” said Manumea. 

Manumea described the many benefits of play for individual development, such as growing resilience, socialising, communication, and turn-taking.  

“We know when there’s a playful city that welcomes play and understands the importance of play, we see more connected communities. We see spaces that are more vibrant, more fun, where people want to be in those spaces, they want to socialise. Play can have a very profound and serious impact when we get it right in a city,” she said. 

Find out more about setting up a Play Street in Sport NZ’s Play Street Aotearoa Toolkit or contact your local council. 

Tamariki playing with a parachute on a street

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