A wheelchair-accessible playground swing has made an almost 1000km journey to its new home at Greerton Village School, much to the delight of the community.
Dubbed a "liberty swing", the playground equipment meant children and adults in wheelchairs were able to enjoy the thrill of soaring on a swing.
The swing was gifted to the school by Variety, a charity for disadvantaged Kiwi children, after Tauranga City Council and Greerton Village School explored options to make the school more accessible to students and the community.
Representatives of Variety and the council attended a mihi whakau at Greerton Village School yesterday morning, where the swing was unveiled to the students and staff at the decile two school.
Previously kept in Christchurch, it was left unused after the devastating earthquakes that rattled the region in 2011.
Greerton Village School principal Anne Mackintosh said the school was "very happy, very excited and very grateful" to be gifted the swing.
She said the school was always fighting for equity and equality at the school.
"It's the biggest shot in the arm we've had when it comes to resources for our treasures - that's what we call our high needs students.
"This generous donation will make a big change [for] them."
School board member Erika Harvey said she teared up when she heard the school would be donated the swing.
"I was crying ... words cannot express how truly grateful we are at Greerton Village School to be the recipients of such an amazing and charitable gift."
The school had funding for 27 children through the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme - a Ministry of Education initiative that provides extra support for high-needs children - out of the 410 children on the roll, she said.
Not all of the high-needs children at the school were in wheelchairs, but it upset Harvey to see any students limited in their play.
She said it must be hard for less-abled children to watch other students play around them while they were restricted to their chairs.
"Most of the time the students are just pushed in circles," she said.
David Drake, a volunteer with Variety for over 20 years, was one of the unsung heroes involved in the mission and drove the swing nearly 1000km from Christchurch to Tauranga.
Drake embarked on the voyage at 6.45am on Monday morning, caught the afternoon ferry to Wellington then zoomed up to Palmerston North. After an overnight stay there, he arrived in Tauranga on Tuesday evening.
He was "delighted to bring [the swing] up" for the "special day".
Tauranga City Council community development team leader Dani Jurgeleit said the swing was part of the council's vision to make Tauranga "the most inclusive city" in the country.
The council helped out by covering the $1000 cost of transporting the swing, which included the ferry, petrol and accommodation.
The installation of the swing at Greerton Village School was part of a larger conversation about how the council could make the city more accessible.
Passionate about Inclusion, Collaboration, Innovation and making a difference.
authorised by: l. zawitkoski, 116 ridge street, tauranga