Tuesday 27 September, 2022
Tiniroto children enjoyed their colourful new playground for the first time on Sunday after it was officially opened by Mayor Rehette Stoltz. Even the grey rainy day did not deter the excitement of having a playground that wasn’t 40 minutes drive away.
Tiniroto mum Sarah-Jane McNaught was credited for her determination that led to this moment.
“A playground is not just for children. It’s for parents who need to just get out of the house for half an hour to regroup, switch off and maybe meet a fellow mum/dad. My drive over the last three years to achieve this space for preschool children was from the feeling of isolation that any rural mum can relate to and the added frustration of a 40-minute drive to the nearest pre-school playground.”
Gisborne District Council area liaison manager Lillian Ward said, “it couldn’t have happened without a strong wahine on the ground to advocate, advocate, advocate”.
Ms Ward and southern area liaison officer Jasmine Leach managed the project to completion under the township upgrades being rolled out across the district.
At the official opening on Sunday, Mayor Rehette Stoltz thanked the community for their energy and passion in making Tiniroto’s playground a reality.
“Now this community has a chance to have the kids play and make mates while the parents catch their breath and connect with each other.”
Ruakituri resident and mum of three Amanda McGurk said the playground was “absolutely amazing”.
As a family they can now stop off and play halfway through their 1.5 hour drive to Gisborne.
Back in June 2019 when Mrs McNaught became chair of the Tiniroto Playgroup, a new playground was something all the mums wished for, she said.
After the old playground was removed due to safety concerns, Mrs McNaught described herself as Council’s “worst nightmare”, as she fought with the determination of a rural woman to get this space for the community.
Like every campaigner she did not get there alone, she said.
“Thank you to Jasmine Leach and Lillian Ward from Gisborne District Council, and Zaria Weatherhead from Civil Assist. Thank you for getting this across the line, your communication every step of the way was fantastic and your honesty was so appreciated.”
Mrs McNaught thanked her husband Aaron for his support and for building the new deck around the hall.
Councillor Kerry Worsnop was also thanked for going to bat for the whole Tiniroto community.
“Lastly, thank you to the children of Tiniroto Playgroup for being so patient waiting for this playground.”
The children watched progress keenly and had been included in the process by helping pick colours and equipment.
“Unless you live rurally you do not truly understand what goes into keeping a community connected and social,” said Mrs McNaught.
“Tiniroto is a special community full of families who are here for life, new families, and multi-skilled people from all walks of life and the world. We laugh together, cry together and when it gets tough, we come together.”
Mrs McNaught said recent weather events especially showed her this.
“This community hall has also become much more of a focus point for us since losing the pub and this added to my drive for this playground space.”
For more information about the township upgrades happening around Tairāwhiti head to our website.
THANK YOU: Harper Connon and Mia Webby enjoy the mini-tramp against the rural backdrop of Tiniroto. In her speech Sarah-Jane McNaught thanked everyone who helped make this playground a reality as members of Tiniroto Playgroup waited patiently for Mayor Rehette Stoltz to cut the ribbon.