Project: Jim Barker Memorial Playground
Client: Project Kiwiana Committee
*Jim Barker (1939-2016) was inducted into the New Zealand Transport Industry Hall of Fame in 2012 and appointed to the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the transport industry and philanthropy in 2015.
Innovation was the hallmark of, Otorohanga legend Jim Barker*, a man whose business philosophy was always one of ‘people first’. As co-founder of Otorohanga Transport Ltd in 1963, Jim and his partners solved the logistics problem of transporting stock across Cook Strait by purchasing a small ferry from Tasmania, the Straitsman, in 1992.
The destination playground, initiated by Project Kiwiana, designed by Bespoke Landscape Architects and largely funded by the Barker family, abounds with kiwiana icons and transport themes. Rugby goal posts anchor the entrance, Buzzy Bee capsules and in-ground trampolines sit within yellow and red circles; fence posts are brightly coloured.
A wide range of play experiences are catered for, with the use of traditional play equipment, such as swings and slides; imaginative water play; and more natural, unprogrammed play features such as stepping logs and log scrambles. A timber boardwalk through the wetland planting is complemented by a purpose-built flying fox.
Playground Creations took especial pride in constructing the bespoke Straitsman ferry, a symbol of the shipping company; and the timber transport truck, the latter evocative of Otorohanga Transport Ltd and the 60 gleaming "Green Machines" that formed a trucking guard of honour at Jim Barker’s funeral.
Created for children of all ages and abilities, this spacious and welcoming play area invites repeat visits, for local residents and travellers alike.