Sunday, 18 September 2016

Beach Road Reserve Playground Whangamata - Why true facts

Went to a wonderful  genealogy and family history seminar on Saturday at Waihi. Felt very inspired by the message that it is important to record family history to write it down. For though it may be buildings and artifacts in the ground it is people that make the history. It is their stories that have influence. The reasons for the location and  a style of house being built,  the " rubbish pits" that show the type of utensils, crockery, clothing used for daily living.
On the way home we stopped at a place which for many, many years has been a favorite - the Beach Road Reserve playground at Whangamata. WELL!!! After nearly three years ALL  has been removed - the swings, slides, concrete boats, the popular tyre playground equipment.
Relics of Beach Road Reserve Playground, Whangamata  17 September 2016
I say almost three years for it is that  time span when first read in the local newspaper, that the playground was to be upgraded - safety considerations  amongst the reasons. Then, in December 2014, resigned to the fact that physical structures were going to disappear, I wrote the history of how the Beach Road Playground Reserve came about back in the 1970's. This  in a blog  
Beach Road Reserve Playground Whangamata December 2014
 The blog was an addition to the story in the book " This and That"  written in 2001. It is thanks to the Whangamata Garden Club, a number of organisations and a large number of volunteers who saw this beach resort's first  children's playground come to fruition.  At a funeral last year children shared the joy of visiting this playground with their grandmother who wrote the very first letter in 1970 asking for the Reserve to be designated and for a playground.
In further research over the last two days, I could not believe what I was reading, written by  TCDC ( our council ). In their Whangamata Community Board Plan 2014-2015 And indicative Direction for 2015-2025 in relation to the said playground on page 16 the following :-
“Beach Road Reserve Development ($99,327) The Board prioritises this project as the Whangamata Beach Road Reserve playground is approximately 25 years old and is no longer fit for purpose due to component deterioration, rust and share use.  "
Historic facts prove that this written statement ( highlighted in red ) in their plan is not entirely accurate. It is the very reason that reinforces the need for recording the story or the history facts.
As a writer, local historian and family history researcher I believe , as we also learned in the Waihi Seminar, that it is very important to get down those family stories and history correctly.
It is an account of " the way things were " and a record for future generations. It is a record for Archaeologists in the future who may be identifying the evidence of settlement beneath the ground.
It can provide for the historian the " way things were." In the instance of the Beach Road Reserve Playground,  a story that reflects the community and pioneers of this town who worked extremely hard at the time, to establish what we all benefit from today – parks, reserves, clubs and organisations - in a different era when the town was small and facilities did not exist. ( not even a Marina back then and very few recreation boats in the harbour). Those early community people and pioneers had a vision for the future.
We have travelled overseas and in New Zealand a lot - visiting what interests us - a botannical gardens at Ballarat, Australia , begun over 150 years ago and still there with the wonderful stories of how it began. The Botannic gardens at Christchurch, NZ with stories of how those early European Settlers, had a vision and started planting and designing. Along with in the garden, children's playgrounds.
plaque remembering curator George Longley, Ballarat Botannic Gardens, Australia  2012 - photo CR Ball

Botannic Gardens, Christchurch NZ - photo CR Ball 2016
Very old buildings, art galleries  and museums abound in England and Europe. ( Structures that a very lucrative tourism industry has built on). Even an ancestor's house built in the seventeenth century - admittedly has another use as a hotel now - but still there standing firmly.

Sometimes we have met other people in our journeys around the world,  who have been to that place called Whangamata and have their stories of camping near the Beach Road Reserve Playground, stories of their children playing on the tyre playground equipment.
It seems to me that there has crept in to New Zealand that anything older than say thirty years needs to be pulled down - whether it be buildings, playgrounds or other structures. A modern attitude that is quick to write them off as being old. This seems to have been strengthened by a changed Historic Places Act, the recording of detail in Archaeological Diggings before a building, a subdivision , a development, a motorway takes place. That it is okay to remove all trace of what was there before and even the stories and written historical fact. 
I think not, for that is removing the very fabric of who we are and the things that make our history and culture. I am pleased I recorded the story of the Beach Road Reserve Playground in the  book, " This and That"  in 2001 and in a blog in 2014.  I  shall continue to record in writing stories and history facts  for future generations. 
 Yes I look with interest to see what rises up out  of the ashes of the relic remains of dirt and soil from the old playground. I accept that physical structures such as swings, slides and tyre playground equipment have a life span and do need replacing. I hope to see other stories and historic facts recorded for the new playground into future years. If others write that story or history down, then in another fifty years will be more on the essence of what the Beach Road Reserve Playground represents to many of us in the fabric of our history and culture.
Beach Road Reserve Playground , Whangamata - waiting for a new lease of life and new stories in the future - photo CR Ball 2016
Reference Source :
Whangamata Community Board Plan 2014-2015 And indicative Direction for 2015-2025  accessed 18/09/2016

This and That 2001   by E A Ball ( nee Stewart )  accessed 19/09/2016


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