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A draft concept picture provided to TCDC for the Porritt Park project. Image: SUPPLIED/TCDC

$900k of equipment ordered for playground

Things are “ticking along nicely” for Thames’ Destination Playground, with $900k of park and recreation equipment on its way from Europe.
Aboard the ship is the centrepiece of the project – a replica of the Wakatere paddle steamer – as well as other playground pieces for “all ages and stages”.
Thames Business Association chief executive Sue Lewis O’Halloran said although the Porritt Park project had been delayed due to “major weather events as well as supply chain issues”, optimism remained for the revamped playground to be open come Christmas.
“[Most of the equipment] is heading out in another week or two onboard a ship, and we anticipate it will be here and the ground will be ready for it at the end of October, early November,” she said.
“Our goal has always been to open it this year before Christmas, and we hope to continue with that.”
In October, 2016, the original Wakatere boat at Porritt Park was dismantled to make way for a skate park. It was built by the Thames Lions Club more than 40 years earlier, and was a replica of the Wakatere paddle steamer, which linked the Thames goldfields and Auckland from 1896 until 1926.
The new playground, an innovative Destination Playground like those often seen in bigger centres, will feature a new boat and lighthouse design, with all ages and all abilities able to use it. The park will also feature an all-accessible carousel and see-saw, as well as water and sensory play.
It has been designed by Auckland-based Philippa and Renee Muir, who earlier told The Profile they had been inspired to construct a space which reflected Thames’ history and the needs of its community.
However, fundraising efforts were still ongoing, Sue said, and there were concerns that the “Rolls-Royce of bathrooms” – the Changing Places facility – would not proceed at the same time as the playground.
Changing Places is a bathroom that meets the needs of people who cannot use standard accessible toilets. The Thames facility will be the fifth of its kind in the country.
“We’re the first small town in New Zealand to get both a Destination Playground and a Changing Places facility, and [the park] will provide hours of fun for whanau,” Sue said.
“We’ve already organised disabled parking in the Danby Field parking lot and we have more coming in Goldfields. Things are ticking along nicely.”
Sue said she hoped the Thames community would recognise the value of the space and its benefit to many, and anyone interested in donating to the project can contact