News | 8 February 2023
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First upgraded skatepark from Council’s Skate work programme

The Tawa Skatepark has been left untouched for decades and was known to the community as an ageing relic.

Panorama of Tawa Skate Park.

Local resident Steph Knight has lived in the area for 12 years and noticed how her son and his friends were travelling out of the suburb to skate and scoot.

“My son and his friends would travel to school on scooters or go to Porirua or Waitangi Park, but wouldn’t really utilise the local skatepark because it wasn’t ‘cool’ or didn’t have as much to do as other parks. 

“We began talking about how great an upgrade would be, and he rallied a few of his friends to see if they would be interested in starting a proposal to upgrade the park. They ended up speaking to the Tawa Community Board and gathered support through conversations with the community and local schools, and kicked off work with the Council in 2019.”

Tawa Skate Park stairs.
The stair set was inspired by the Chevy Chase Skatepark in LA.

Steph believes that it will change the way people use and see the space. 

“The upgrade to the park is helping create a recreational hub for all ages and encouraging people to visit because there are multiple things to do with the pool and Grasslees Reserve next door. Plus, people can easily hop on the train from Wellington to Kapiti and spend the day in the area. It can be a destination skatepark!”

Now, after being closed since September 2022, the upgraded skatepark is officially opening this month. 

It’s the first skatepark to be redone out of the Council work programme which was recently short-listed for the Sport New Zealand Community Impact Award. The programme sees $7million assigned for skateparks over the next eight years as part of both the long-term plan, and the destination skatepark funding

Hydrant at Skate Park.
The pyramid was a nod to the original pyramid in the park.

All changes to the park were made in partnership with the local community, local skateboarders and the Wellington Skateboarding Association (WSA), to ensure the space would be purpose-built for a wide range of people, says WSA President Max Olijnyk. 

“In consultation with the park designers Rich Landscapes, we helped put together a plan for the Tawa Skatepark to make it as special and functional as possible.

“We saw room to make it special. We used ideas from iconic skate spots from around the world – as diverse as Tampa Skatepark in Florida and Lockwood Primary school in Los Angeles. The result is really cool and unique – I'm excited to skate the Lockwood bank-to-bench, the fire hydrant and the slappie curb. We were also able to squeeze in a flat area for beginners to practice rolling around. It's an awesome park, which will continue to evolve over time.”

Local legend Kevin Francis was integral in providing insights and feedback into the design and build of the park. Having travelled extensively as a sponsored skateboarder, Kevin was able to bring unmeasurable experience, research and knowledge to the project. 

Tawa Skate Park ramp.
The quarters were based on the skatepark of Tampa.

Skateboarder Priya Neupane was hired by Angus McMillan Concrete to help provide a skate perspective and to get experience in landscape design and has seen the development of the park from start to finish. 

She is excited about what skateboarding will bring to the community, and is proud of the efforts of all people involved. 

“It’s been such a cool process! I’ve seen lots of people going for a hoon already, and they’re just waiting for the opening. I feel like a strong wahine being able to work on something like this and to see the skate community grow.”