Our Wellington

News | 24 February 2021

Berhampore neighbours unlock street potential

So far, summer has proven to be a wonderful season for playful, community events and celebrations.

A chalkboard with the words 'haere mai', welcoming people to the Berhampore Play Day event, with lots of kids and adults playing on the street behind the sign.

And last weekend was no exception. As we head into a season of larger community events – such as Newtown Festival, Capital-E Children's Day, Destination Play Kilbirnie and Strathmore Play Day – it is wonderful to appreciate the smaller neighbourhood events that connect us back to fond childhood memories of playing in the street.

Jeypore Street in Berhampore was a hive of activity on Saturday as it was closed to traffic, with local residents and their whānau working hard to plan and deliver a full day of fun and games.

Event organiser Mark Johnston says he and other locals had been dreaming up a neighbourhood event since the COVID-19 lockdown.

“We had lots of unstructured play activities, people spending time together chatting, everyone was really happy. I was able to meet some new people from my street, and I could see others strengthening old friendships.”

Mark says the event showcased the “strong neighbourhood spirit” and was a way that could help communities and children feel safe and welcomed.

“I am really proud of how well we worked together as a community and how involved everyone was.”

The event was community led and supported by Wellington City Council's Parks, Sport and Recreation (PSR) team, with a full Traffic Management Plan in place.

Play Advocate Peta McMillan says it aligned with PSR’s focus on promoting play and was a celebration of one of Wellington’s vibrant communities.

“All children deserve to access green and open spaces, and if you don’t have much of a backyard, it's a nice idea to get together with your neighbours in shared spaces.

“We hope that as a result of the Play Days we are hosting around Wellington, whānau will be inspired to keep play time simple, creating more space and time at home, while exploring how they can say ‘yes’ more.

“Simply allowing kids to play more with less structure, is essential to a healthy development. Kids learn to set their own boundaries and create their own rules amongst their play peers,” Peta says.

A man helping a young girl on her tricycle, navigating down a small colourful ramp, set up on a street closed to vehicles for a public play day.

Council officer Kate Hodgetts attended the event and says it was evident that everyone was having a fabulous time.

“The traffic management and COVID QR codes were all taken care of, so it was great that the most risky activity appeared to be wayward gumboot throwing!”

Berhampore resident and PSR Lead Project Specialist Alexi Trenouth took her children along for a day of fun.  

“Lockdown encouraged our families to get outdoors and play more. There were fewer cars, more space to move about and we were able to give kids permission to play in ways we previously haven’t.

“Events like these come around as a result of experiences like ours, where kids are seeking new ways to play, and adults are eager to interact with one-another close to home.”

Some highlights from the day included:

  • Neighbours took over their local street and were able to play outside their front doors
  • Residents Matt and Kate shared water from their hose, while others made lemonade, hosted a ‘biggest vege weigh-in’, and a book swap
  • Rebicycle supplied an array of bikes, wheely play-things, and ramps, forming a miniture bike-park
  • There was a gumboot throwing contest, bubble blowing, clay modelling, and chalk drawings that brightened the ashphalt
  • Predator Free Mt Cook / Newtown / Berhampore talked to residents about trapping and the rewards of pest control
  • A turntable spun vinyl tracks, giving the event music and a very 'Welly' vibe
  • The local Berhampore Community Centre provided tables, chairs, bean bags, and a barbecue.