Mangere Bridge School

The final outcome is so much more than a playground, its a sense of place, heart and belonging.

A project that was rooted in the cultural narratives that are integral to the school and wider community. The vision for this space was initiated by principal Stephanie Tawha. The school was collecting stories, and learning about their surrounding environment, the history and people. They wanted to weave these stories together to inspire a new playground that could speak to telling these legends.

Stephanie shared with us her learning enquiries that the children had undertaken, exploring how these stories could be symbolised through the playground apparatus. 

Many of their learning enquiries reflected the Journey of Hape and how he travelled across Te moana nui a Kiwa to Aotearoa. The legend tells that his tribe left him behind. He prayed to Tangaroa the god of all seas to take him across. A huge taniwha appeared in the form of a stingray who took him across, arriving at Manukau Harbour and leaving him at Ellet’s Point, Māngere where the canoes would later land. The taniwha is called Kaiwhare, ‘the keeper of Manukau’. Hape marked his feet in Papa rock which his hāpu saw when they landed.

Our design reflects the islands with green wet pour rubber mounds peeking out from loose chip cushionfall and a cluster of climbing logs and nets creating a zone to challenge, strength and coordination. 

A waka is situated at the start of its journey across Te moana nui a Kiwa, representing Hape’s tribe. 

A shape of mighty Kaiwhare flows through the ocean underneath a zigzag of monkey bars, twister rings, providing upper body challenges as the tamariki make their way across the ocean. 

Finally finishing at the maunga, Te Pane-o-Mataaho has rocks showing where Hape marked his feet upon landing with the contours representing the terraced landscape fortifications on vantage points. 

The final outcome is so much more than a playground, its a sense of place, heart and belonging. Appropriately named, Te Haerenga a Hape which translates as Hape’s Journey.