Emily Writes and her son pay a visit to the brand new ‘playground’ on the Parliament lawn.
I heard there was a new park at Parliament only when I was asked to review it. Somehow it slipped under the radar despite the fact that I care deeply about new playgrounds. As a mum of two reasonably young kids I know all the playgrounds in Wellington and I have my favourites.
It was probably lucky I had no expectations when I went to the playground with my seven-year-old. It turns out the playground is less a playground and more a slide with some blocks of wood next to it. But it’s a very nice slide indeed. And it all smells very nice, which is unusual for a playground given most of their clientele shit their pants regularly.
It smelled like nice wood. And burning flesh, because like so many slides in this country you have to wear long pants on it in the summer or you’ll end up leaving half your skin on it. I mean apart from that it’s a good slide. A very woody-smelling slide.
On the sunny Saturday I went along, there were about 25 kids playing there. So let’s review the park by numbers first.
- 16 bits of wood that kids can hop on. I can attest that children were indeed hopping.
- Six longer slabs of wood for kids to walk on. They did walk on them.
- Three benches for parents to have existential crises on.
- Two of the three benches were in the shade. In my view the benches were the best part of the park.
- One half naked man laying on the Parliament lawn sunbathing like he just owns New Zealand.
- 12 kids on the slide at any one time.
- 65 degrees: the approximate temperature of the slide at lunchtime after an hour of sun on it.
- One bottle of water used to cool the slide down.
- Four times I had to rescue my child from out of a tree because they climbed too high.
- Two signs saying parents have to supervise their children.
- 36 times a child screamed YEET and then had a return YEET yelled back at them.
- 0 play options for children who can’t climb stairs making it inaccessible to children with disabilities.
When we arrived my son said “Is this it?” He seemed quite unimpressed by just a slide. But there were kids everywhere and very quickly a game of tag started up with about eight kids. This gave me about 35 minutes to catch up on Dwayne The Rock Johnson’s Instagram account. For that reason alone I like the park.
There are also no swings. If you have a child who likes swings this is a definite plus. It means you can avoid swinging your child in the burning sun for two hours slowly losing your will to live.
It’s also an undeniably beautiful setting. The trees are gorgeous and there’s something immensely satisfying about watching your child climb a tree with other barefooted children. That it’s all happening on the Parliament lawn somehow makes it even nicer. With the sun shining and a lovely bit of shade, it’s the perfect place to read a book while your kids play. Also it’s far enough from the road that you don’t need to parent too heavily.
Having attended quite a few hikoi, strikes and petition signings at Parliament, the slide will be a welcome addition to entertaining the kids while we do our mahi. But many parents who have to protest at parliament also have kids who have disabilities. The slide has steps all the way up and is inaccessible to kids with mobility challenges. That might be acceptable if there were other options, but there isn’t.
So in short, it’s a lovely park. Even if it’s very simple. But it needs additions to make it welcoming to all kids and not just some. Children taking over Parliament is exactly what we need so I hope that happens soon. In the meantime, God defend the burning slide.
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