The playground of the future: a padded room


T-bar swings are being removed from Auckland playgrounds after a set suddenly failed while being used by a child.

Suddenly.   Unlike other things that fail over long periods of time.  Like light bulbs, or your phone no longer starting.

Auckland Council is spending about $220,000 replacing the 87 T-bar swings at 69 sites around the city after the recent incident on Waiheke Island.

“The issue was brought to our attention after a set of swings collapsed at Oneroa Beach on Waiheke in mid-June,” Ian Maxwell, Auckland Council’s director of community services, told the Herald on Sunday.

“A kid was playing on the swing when it failed with no visual warning but fortunately the child wasn’t injured.”

The T-bar swings were installed at parks and playgrounds around Auckland between 15 and 20 years ago. Metal fatigue and rust on the pipe which secures them into the ground is believed to be the cause of the problem.

“We treat the safety of youngsters very seriously and we have decided to replace all the T-bar swings with classic models which hang from an overhead frame,” Maxwell said. “You can’t take a chance with things like this.

Nobody was injured.

You have to wonder why Council reacts this way.  We have ACC which is essentially a no-fault accident insurance system, so the Council aren’t acting to mitigate financial risk.

The whole point of playgrounds is that these are areas where kids are encouraged to go out of their comfort zones.

Many ponds now have fences around them, and certain trees are being cut down because kids are climbing them.

So here is the playground of the future.  As long as you don’t have a grass allergy, are sensitive to sun, or are prone to lying face down in a shallow puddle.


  • XCIA

    Perhaps in the “playground” of the future, children will be strapped into seats and given a 3D virtual reality headset that will allow them the experience that the barbaric children of the twentieth century had to endure.

  • Hard1

    All we need now is for the Council to fail.

  • Dave

    They already are. We have playgrounds here in Sydney where council checks the swings and slides etc weekly for wear and tear and safety for fear something might fail. Every vertical post is padded, the surface under the swing / slide area is super padded and fenced off in case little Johnny or Jane might fall off one have a slight bruise.

    I commented to my son recently, in the 60’s when I was a similar age to his son, we had safety things too, a concrete pad to fall on so hard we didn’t fall off and parents to supervise so we didn’t fall off. A few bruises and sprains and a broken arm, I seemed to have survived. My son and daughter never injured themselves in playgrounds, but both broke arms and wrists riding horses, skating and playing sport.

    I seriously wonder when climbing a tree will be banned, just in case little John or Jill injure themselves? Let’s let kids be kids please, with a little Adult Supersivion!!

  • David Kerr

    Don’t worry, this type of thinking goes all the way through to the work place…little Jonny won’t have a care for decades to come

  • Gazza

    NZ has a playground safety standard NZS 5828:2015, stick to that and all’s good. Kids need to climb stuff and fall off to learn about risk and pushing boundaries which we learn from and thats how we apply risk in our future as adults.

  • cows4me

    It well have more to do with the insane Harassment & Shakedown organization , their rules and their God like powers to go after anything that’s not covered in bubble wrap and polystyrene . Society is being regulated and safety to death and this will just be more arse covering by those in power. Our society will eventually become a sterile drab place as risk is replaced with fear of prosecution.

    • XCIA

      I remember when government sent a bunch of Muppet’s to the US to learn from the self proclaimed masters of H&S. When they got back here, it didn’t take them long to build an empire and add their own preconceived ideas that just didn’t work because they had no idea or experience in the industries they had set out to regulate. I managed to arrange some of my people to sit on committees that gave input to legislation that was going to affect the industry I was concerned with at the time. Far better to be on the inside and have some control over what is expected.

    • WBC

      It;s actually not really to do with them though, just with a lazy dimwitted interpretation (read excuse) about what H&S might say or want. The vast majority of what is blamed on H&S is really not required at all, it’s just that people are stupid and H&S is an easy target. The real problem for kids is that the sort of dropkicks who end up in positions in the council are precisely the sort that are too scared and too stupid to apply thought to the situation.

  • McGrath

    I remember watching my lad climbing a tree at the park and some busybodies saying “aren’t you afraid he’ll fall”, followed by their look of horror when I replied “he’s gotta learn sometime”

  • LesleyNZ
  • Nermal

    Maybe this is why there are so many parents with children of all ages at the indoor rock climbing in Auckland each weekend. Kids love a challenge.

  • WBC

    “You can’t take a chance with things like this.”

    Yes you can! The world has pointy edges, kids should have the opportunity to learn this before they get older and end up really hurting themselves because some halfwits were too lazy to apply thought and reason.