For children and young people, play is paramount for health and well-being. For families, the provision of play helps to create a safe place to meet friends, go shopping, run errands or to simply spend time together. For cities, the provision of play brings a sense of inclusiveness, inviting users of all ages to explore and engage with their environment in new ways.

Though traditionally placed in specifically allocated spaces, play can exist outside of purpose-built playgrounds. Pocket parks, artworks, furniture and more, can help bring play into public spaces, inviting children, young people and families to visit, spend time, and even live, in the city centre.

A 2019 survey of the city centre revealed that less than 0.05% of city centre users were children at play, suggesting that the city is not currently an attractive destination for children

and families.

We aim to introduce more play in the city centre. Through designated parks, but also in streets, lanes, squares and other public spaces. When we plan for play, we plan for children and their families, and ultimately create a safe environment that can be enjoyed by all users, regardless of age.


  • A playful city

With an inner-city street environment categorised by slow moving traffic, playfulness can be meaningfully integrated into almost all areas of the city centre environment. From Trafalgar Street to Wakatu Square, and everything in between, opportunities for integrated play are high.

Te Ara ō Whakatū acknowledges there is high demand from the community for a destination playground near the city centre. Work will be undertaken by Council in the next year to find opportunities for places to play in and near the central city.

  • An inclusive city

An inclusive city is one where the needs of all users are considered equally.

Safe and playful environments invite young and old alike, and support a safe and hospitable environment for all user demographics. Planning for play is planning for inclusiveness.

  • Streets as places, not just thoroughfares

Designing playfulness into the urban environment goes further than simply providing activities for youth. Playful attributes help shift the perception of our streets as thoroughfares to streets as places – a benefit that can be shared by all.