Community & Environment

Pencils give pop-up play space

A group of giant coloured pencils suddenly appeared in Rototuna’s Te Manatu Park.

The coloured pencils are a new temporary play installation, and the brain child of staff in the Council’s Landscapes Team, part of the Parks and Recreation Unit.

At between 20cm and 60cm wide, and about 5m long, the coloured pencils are repurposed alder trees from a vegetation management job alongside the Waikato River, on a stretch of land managed by the Council.

Senior Project Leader Hannah Helleur says she spotted a similar innovation on social media site Pinterest, and realised the fundamental idea could be adapted into her role managing the city’s playgrounds.

“One of my colleagues is responsible for managing the city’s treescape, and we felt the alder trees were perfect for this type of temporary play installation,” she says.

The trees were felled at their site, then trucked across town by the Council’s City Parks Unit. Once on-site, the logs were cut to give the coloured pencil effect, stacked, and then fixed together using steel rods. The ends were painted to give the impression of coloured pencils.

There are more than a dozen logs in the play installation, which people can walk or balance on – and because of the steel rods holding them together, there is no risk of them rolling apart.

“We’re still a few years away from fully developing Te Manatu Park, but this gives residents an interesting little play installation to enjoy,” she says.

Signage on the installation encourages people to photograph the pencil logs and use the hashtag #play on social media posts

The pencil logs’ condition will be monitored, and if they begin deteriorating due to weather or natural decay processes, they’ll be removed.

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