Students at South Wellington Intermediate (SWIS) have not been able to play in their adventure playground since April last year.

The playground was deemed unsafe at the end of term one in 2016 and with an estimated cost of $70,000 to fix it – money the school does not have – it was instead made out of bounds.

Principal Traci Liddall (above) says that some children ask her all the time when is it going to be fixed.

“There would often be 80-100 children playing out there at lunchtime,” she says looking out from her office on a dismal, drizzly Wellington day, which makes the broken playground look even sadder.

The ground covering is torn up and there are corroded flying foxes and hand rails.

She says that the Ministry of Education does not regard spending on playgrounds a priority. Liddall says many schools have the same problem and school swimming pools have suffered the same fate.

Schools do have a property maintenance budget and fund such works out of this and the operations grant but neither of these are sufficient to cover the high cost.

So SWIS either had to pay to have the playground decommissioned at a cost of $30,000 or find the money themselves.

Wanting to help, a SWIS Year 8 student biked from the top to the bottom of the North Island over three weeks to raise funds for the playground and raised about $1800.

The school has also looked at external sources of funding such as charities – but these are only small lots of money. A parent has stepped up to do the funding applications.

She says despite everything, the school is going to go ahead and will rebuild it.

Other funding has come from an art show and sale, their regular markets and parents have been asked to make bigger donations to the school this year – partly as a result of the playground but also because the school, like many others, has a shortfall in funding for the year – with the school roll increasing but the operations grant being frozen.

“We are down $50 per student for next year.”

The playground will be rebuilt over the summer. Liddall says $25,000 has been made available through depreciation and they will pay the contractor this initial amount and hope they raise the rest before they get the final bill.

“This is health and education – it should come first – a playground should be a priority.”