Children and families enjoying the Malaefatu Play Space
BY Lance Polu
APIA, SAMOA: THURSDAY 9 JULY 2015: A playground named the Malaefatu Play Space, is the first to be opened of the larger Apia Waterfront Development Project that aims to be a bustling place for business, restaurants and for people to congregate and enjoy.
The $518,277 tālā playground on government land near the bus depot at Sogi is funded by New Zealand that is also injecting funds and technical support to the Waterfront Development Project idea.
The Ministry of the Environment that will be in charge of the playground says the Malaefatu Play Space is an early activity planned as part of the initiative to upgrade the Apia Waterfront and is the result of an ongoing partnership between Samoa and New Zealand. The Apia waterfront initiative aims to enhance the waterfront as a community space, business asset and tourist attraction, so as to contribute to the improved social and economic wellbeing of the city.
The playground was opened yesterday and attended by New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key and Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele in a series of engagements that culminated with the rugby clash between Samoa and New Zealand.
In a press release, MNRE says although the opening coincides with the historical rugby test between the Manu Samoa and the All Blacks, for most of the children using the park on Wednesday, all they will remember is playing at the new Malaefatu Play Space for the very first time.
“The new facility seeks to promote healthy play and interaction amongst young children and youth, and provides a safe social environment where parents can relax and interact while keeping watch on the children.
“This is what the Waterfront vision is about, creating spaces that support and encourage interaction of the wider community and the use of the Waterfront. These types of spaces will add to and build on the vibrancy that Apia already has to offer as a great place to visit.”
The civil works at the site and the construction of the basketball half-court were undertaken by FC PEN Construction Limited, a local firm based at Letogo while the Play Space equipment was supplied and installed by Playground Centre Company, a New Zealand based firm from Wanganui which has vast experience in constructing playgrounds all over New Zealand. Both companies worked together with the Apia Waterfront Development Unit, the Planning and Urban Management Agency (PUMA) of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Samoa Tourism Authority to develop the first play space of its kind in Samoa.
Samoa’s plan to upgrade the Waterfront is a major component of New Zealand’s assistance to support tourism in Samoa. In addition to financial support from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), the Local Government New Zealand, Auckland Waterfront and Wellington Council are providing technical assistance to develop the Waterfront Plan, which will be a basis for future investment. The ongoing partnership between Samoa and New Zealand involving the exchange of knowledge and experience reflects the close bonds between our two countries.
Further activities to enhance the Apia Waterfront will be developed through stakeholder and community consultations planned to start later in 2015. The main focus is to develop an overarching plan that will guide the long term development of the waterfront from Mulinuu to Vaiala based on public needs and approved guiding principles.
It is anticipated that the planning phase will be finalized in 2016 once public consultations and technical assessments have been completed. Some initial activities, such as the Malaefatu Play Space, interpretive signs to display cultural and historical heritage, rest areas and fitness stations along a Waterfront trail will be implemented in parallel with the development of the master plan.