Selwyn Reserve in the beautiful Mission Bay area, east of downtown Auckland, is part of a site of historic and archaeological significance. This adds complexity to any refurbishment projects undertaken on the site, like the recent playground installation which Ventia delivered for Auckland Council. 

Mission Bay takes its name from the Melanesian Mission, which was established by Anglican Bishop George Augustus Selwyn - for whom the Reserve was named - at the bay at the end of the 1840s.

With views north to Rangitoto Island, this beautiful beachside reserve is a popular place for locals and holiday makers.

"Our local Boards here in Auckland are passionate about delivering value for their communities," says Construction Manager Omid Bassam.

The upgrades to this reserve were carefully planned and delivered to ensure all visitors can enjoy their day by the beach.

Over the past two years, Omid and his team have delivered a number of upgrades to the reserve, including new lighting fixtures, a new roof and internal walls in the toilet block, refurbished picnic tables and benches, and finally the playground.

Playground installation at the Selwyn Reserve

The installation of the playground - amongst other upgrades - was delivered by Ventia for Auckland Council.


Close collaboration around refurbishment

Omid assigned this project to Mike Back, one of four project managers on the Ventia team, who worked closely with the designer and council engineer to deliver a great outcome. 

"Our responsibility was to dismantle and remove the existing playground structure and where possible repurpose the parts of the playground that could be used elsewhere," Mike says. 

Where possible, we wanted to refurbish and reuse such items as the wooden park benches, slides, playground modules that may require a touch up.

Mike says they then prepared the site so that work could be done on the play modules, ensuring that the fall heights and fall zones were measured accurately so that the new play equipment could be installed per the specification. 

"A late addition to the project was the introduction of shade sails, which was managed effortlessly on site by the lead contractors," Mike says. 

There was also landscaping and the installation of Pou Whenua (sacred posts, of acknowledgement), which are carved wooden posts used by Māori to mark territory and places of significance.

A range of elements, such as Pou Whenua (sacred posts of acknowledgement), was incorporated in the careful design and installation of the playground.


Ultimately the footprint of the play area was expanded from the original, through better use of space and good design and planning. 

Given the archaeological significance of the site, an archaeologist was on site during demolition and excavation to ensure any artifacts were captured and catalogued. As the playground was originally built in the 1990's and has been upgraded once since, there was nothing significant found during the works. 

"We also worked with an arborist on site to ensure protection of a number of heritage trees," Mike says. 

Underground challenges

Not all the challenges were aboveground. 

"There was a vast system of tree roots beneath the play area, which caused some modifications to the design, and we also had to ensure we identified locations of underground power cables." 

Mike called out the quality and standard of work of the subcontractors he worked with from Decker Landscapes and Civil, who have undertaken other projects with Ventia in Auckland. 

"Their work was outstanding," he says. 'Nothing was too much trouble, they were really proactive and always had answers for me anytime I had questions about work. They were forward thinking and set a high standard for others to follow!'

Scott Milne, chairperson of ÅŒrākei Local Board which funded the upgrades, explains the importance of getting this project right. "This part of Auckland is experiencing increasing visitor numbers, so we needed to future proof the facilities including the playground.'

We are proud to say that the area is now much more accessible and the high quality play options now suit a wider range of ages.

The upgrades were blessed by Ngāti Whātua ÅŒrākei at the official opening event, and the celebrations included roving entertainers, Kumo Taiko Japanese Drummers, face painting and much more.

Next time you're in Auckland, head to Mission Bay for a look! Ventia was proud to be part of this special project for the local community. 

A wooden swing with carvings on the Selwyn Reserve playground


Top banner picture: The official opening of the playground.