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This is the inspiring journey of transforming a simple idea into a remarkable reality. The story begins with a spark of inspiration during a visit to the Margaret Mahy Playground, leading to a passionate campaign for change and the dream of creating an inclusive all-abilities playspace for the community of Caroline Bay. What unfolds is a tale of assembling a dedicated team, finding the perfect design visionary, gaining support from the local council, and evolving into a community volunteer group. The narrative also delves into the meticulous research and engagement process, the selection of the ideal partners for playground development, and the formation of a structured operation under the Aoraki Foundation. The heart of this story lies in the fundraising plan and strategy, as the project faces both triumphs and challenges along the way. With a strong sense of community and unwavering determination, this journey embodies the spirit of making a difference through collective passion and hard work.

People have ideas about doing things all the time but sadly for many people that’s as far as it gets…just an idea without the necessary follow through to give life to the idea!

In the case of CPlay and the dream of creating an inclusive all abilities playspace for Caroline Bay I quickly discovered that in order to make the dream a reality I would need to surround myself with like minded people from the community to make it happen.

The idea was first germinated on a visit to Christchurch with my 3 young children to explore the Margaret Mahy Playground.

I was sitting there watching my children enjoy this incredible asset that was developed after the rubble had been removed from the Christchurch earthquakes and was joined by a woman from Timaru who was there with her grandchildren.  We marvelled at the playground and she turned to me and said ‘we should have one of these in Timaru?’.

And that’s all it took to set my imagination alight.  Why couldn’t we have a playground like this that brings so much joy to families, surely other people would feel the same way?

I was campaigning for a place on the local council at the time and the development of the woefully underdeveloped playground at Caroline Bay was one of the platforms that I campaigned on.

Although I missed out on getting onto the local council at that time the idea for a new playground was widely supported.  All it needed was someone to drive it and I decided that I would be that person.

The first thing to do was to find like minded people in the community to join me on the ‘playground journey’ and so I advertised some meetings and found a committee of people to come on board.

The initial conversations were around what sort of playground we would have, what would be the theme, how much would it cost and what jobs needed to be done to make it happen.  In those early days we were working with a totally blank canvas.

I realised quickly that I needed someone locally with a flair for design and communication/marketing skills to help bring the project to life and with a stroke of luck I’d had some online conversations with Roselyn Fauth who was interested in what I was proposing.  However, Roselyn and her husband Chris had a young family and weren’t able to commit the time to such a large undertaking.

A few months later I ran into Roselyn and Chris at another event and they asked me how I was getting on with the playground.  I explained that we’d set up a committee of sorts and were still passionate about getting it off the ground but needed someone with her skills to help us bring it together. To my surprise she tentatively agreed to come onboard which gave us the wings to take flight.

I then approached Bill Steans (Parks and Recreation Manager) at the Timaru District Council and he was enthusiastic about the idea of a ‘Heritage Playground’ that would provide access to children of all abilities.  Even from the very beginning we were determined to provide a playspace that was inclusive so that children with disabilities would be able to enjoy the playground as much as able bodied children.

At this juncture the project became ‘real’!  We would be a community group of volunteers responsible for design, fundraising and ultimately delivering a playground that would tell the unique story of our district.  We would do this with the support of the council in an arrangement that would be formalised a little further down the line and that would then allow us to hand over the finished product to the council and ultimately the community to enjoy.


CarolineBay PlaygroundUpgrade OwenJackson

Owen "OJ" Jackson wants residents to think big when it comes to designing a playground at Caroline Bay. The radio DJ thinks the spaces in the existing playground are "very dated and out of touch with the community's needs" and on Thursday evening will host a "blue sky meeting" at The Croft where he will outline some of his ideas for its refresh. "I was inspired by visiting the Margaret Mahy playground in Christchurch," he said...


For the next few months I looked at various playgrounds around the country and spoke to the people who made them happen including a number of conversations with Catherine Hamilton from Opus who were the project team for the Margaret Mahy Playground.

The CPlay committee decided to approach the top 6 playground providers and asked them to provide us with a presentation of what we could get for a budget between $800k and around $1.2 million.  This was a rough estimate figure from the conversations I’d been having during the research period.

A number of the providers took the time to come to Timaru and do personal presentations to the CPlay team while others provided information that was also helpful.  These presentations took place in 2019 and were presented to the public by way of engagement at various events so we could get feedback on what we had so far.


Owen 'OJ' Jackson is hopeful in $86,000 in funding from the TDC to jump-start a project to build a new playground. As well as drawing visitors to Timaru, there were also physical, mental, and social benefits to the playground.

By early 2020 the CPlay team had decided to move forward with Playground Centre (PGC).   Warren Walker from PGC had embraced the idea of a ‘heritage playground’ more so than any of the other providers and after deliberations amongst ourselves and from the feedback we’d had from our early engagement sessions it appeared to be a good fit.

In the meantime we needed to set up a more formal operating structure for CPlay and decided that rather than setting ourselves up as a charitable trust we would continue as a committee under the umbrella of the Aoraki Foundation who would look after our money and provide us with the administration services that we would require.

Initially this seemed like a great idea and as we were only formed for the playground project it made sense to utilize their resources.  In hindsight we would’ve been better off setting ourselves up as a charitable trust as the financial model between Aoraki Foundation, the Timaru District Council and CPlay became rather cumbersome.  However, over time Aoraki Foundation has been fabulous to deal with and they have also learnt plenty about how to accommodate funding groups like ours along the way.


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C-Play Playground Upgrade Project committee members, from left, Owen 'OJ' Jackson, Roselyn Fauth, and Leanne Prendeville with a box of public feedback surveys for the proposed $1.5million Caroline Bay playground upgrade.


While The CPlay design team worked with PGC on what the playground would look like, how it would best represent our unique local story and how much it was going to cost it was my job to work out how we were going to raise the necessary funds to make it happen.


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The public visiting the CPlay marquee at the Timaru Festival of Roses to see the concepts for the playground and help us choose the winning tender


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We needed a plan!

We spoke with other groups who had been involved in raising money for large scale community projects locally such as the MRI Scanner and the CBay Aquatic Centre and asked Stacey Scott, who had been involved in both projects to give us some guidance.

None of the CPlay team had been involved in fundraising on this sort of scale before so the thought of raising what we then thought was a little under $2 million was rather overwhelming.  It turns out though that Stacey’s 3 golden rules of fundraising were absolutely the recipe for success.

They were;

  1. Have a plan
  2. Have a plan
  3. Have a plan

Our plan was similar to how the money had been raised for CBay.

This would include reaching out to our main stakeholder, The Timaru District Council, for their financial support.  We had already had close to $80k from the council through a government stimulus fund which enabled the project to get off the ground but we would need major backing to show the community that this was a legitimate project worth getting in behind.

The breakdown of where the money would come from looked something like this;

  • TDC - $750k
  • Lotteries/Trusts - $500k
  • Wealthy Benefactors - $100k
  • Business Support - $300k
  • Public Campaign - $150k
  • Total - $1.8mill

On March 22nd 2021 we officially launched the CPlay project to the media and public with a presentation at Movie Max Digital.  This was an opportunity to update the public on the consultation we had done, the concept design work so far and how we expected to raise the necessary funds to make it all happen.


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Members from the CPlay Committee and TDC Council meet to go over the consultation feedback from over 30 community meetings and 3 community events to finalise information for playground design brief. - Photo Roselyn Fauth

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Warren Walker, Owen Jackson, Chris Fauth, John Rushton and Roselyn Fauth meet with designers over zoom to present his design brief to The Playground Centre. - Photo Roselyn Fauth



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Monday 22nd March


To celebrate the completion of the brief and the launch of the concept plans. CPlay committee invited those who offered suggestions and feedback for the playground community consultation phase. This information and feedback gathered at public festivals, helped the committee identify the needs and wants of the community.

OJ Owen Jackson has his fingers crossed as we wait for the outcome from an application to The Timaru District Council stimulous fund 23 August 2020


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Owen 'OJ' Jackson and Roselyn Fauth talk about a proposed $1.5m Caroline Bay playground upgrade.


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Ready to go, members from the CPlay committee and Caroline Bay Association. CPlay were rapt with the opportunity to raise funds for the new Caroline Bay Playground, the first official fundraiser by the group of volunteers.

The CPlay fundraising team then went to work to find the money!

Owen Jackson and Chris Fauth


CPlay Playground Upgrade Project committee member Owen Jackson hopes the community will continue to contribute to the new playground at Caroline Bay.

While we continued to engage with the community about how the playground might look CPlay made a submission to the TDC annual plan for funding and was granted $1 mill in July 2021.  Now we had some real traction but the hard work to raise the total amount had just begun.

Days, weeks and months were taken up tirelessly cold calling potential business sponsors, making appointments, call backs, meetings and the various other things you need to do to get a commitment and get the money in the bank. 

We had our knock backs along the way from businesses that we were sure would support the project but we were now deep into ‘Covid’ and some business people were wary of commitment in what was a rather uncertain time.  Thankfully businesses like Hilton Haulage, Oceania Dairy Ltd and Timaru Civic Trust all came on board for $50k each and this gave us some real momentum.

We were also successfully applying for grants from various charitable organisations like Trust Aoraki, Community Trust Mid & South Canterbury, Pub Charities and Lotteries and we had fabulous support from the local service groups as well such as Rotary and Lions.

Kindergartens and schools started doing their own fundraising on our behalf and through our excellent social engagement general public donations began to roll in through our website.  It was an extremely exciting and busy time for our volunteers to collate the donations and then publicly thank them for their support.

In the meantime CPlay had entered into a much more formal relationship with TDC with the formation of what would be called the “JSG” or Joint Steering Group that included some members from CPlay and others from TDC .  TDC also requested that we must have an experienced formal project manager to oversee the scope of the project so Graham Ward kindly offered to donate his time to CPlay which we were incredibly thankful for.


CarolineBay PlaygroundUpgrade WeNeedYou

A new community initiative to upgrade the playground at Caroline Bay is being launched this weekend, and they want your input. The C-Play Playground Upgrade Project was initiated by Owen Jackson (OJ) earlier this year, and they will be at the Rose Festival this weekend to get feedback and support for their idea.


If I had the opportunity to do anything differently in this project the one key thing that I would have done would be to get someone like Graham, with his particular set of skills, to have joined us right from the get-go.  Without his guidance and understanding of large scale vertical infrastructure projects such as this we would have really struggled to get to where we have landed.

In early 2022 we were given a grant by Venture Timaru that enabled us to employ the services of a professional fundraiser, Jenny Giblin, who assisted us in making a successful application to Lotteries for $240k.

At this point we believed that the Lotteries grant would get us over the line to what had now become a $2.2 mill project.  The cost had increased as part of our engagement and design process.  We simply didn’t want to provide a playground that was just sufficient, we wanted to provide a playground that would be EPIC and we knew that came at a cost.

It had now been just over a year since we had officially launched the CPlay project and with $2.2 mill raised we were ready to celebrate with the public at a ‘Party in The Playground’ in June of 2022.  It was our way to say thankyou for all the amazing support we had received in bringing the dream to life.  How wrong we were!

It turned out that our estimates for the amount of surfacing and earthworks we would require were off the mark and the disruptions to supply chains during Covid had pushed up costs by as much as 25% in some cases.  We were now facing a budget of $3 mill to complete the playground to the level we felt the community deserved.

With an $800k shortfall we made the decision we would not go back to the public for more money but instead would look for other ways to complete the project;

  • the design team was asked to find savings and begin categorising some elements of the playground as ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’
  • We would apply for more grants and were successful in particular thanks to Trust Aoraki
  • TDC were able to find another $300k in the annual plan


It would take almost 12 months to get this in order and in the meantime we took some major heat from the local newspaper who claimed that we weren’t being transparent enough with our budgets.

Through some fabulous communications from our end and the ongoing public support from the community we managed to navigate our way through this and have come out the other side much wiser for the experience.

In late March 2023 the final design (well almost…it’s constantly being tweaked) was ready to go, the budget which continues to be a work in progress was confirmed, all the contractors were in place and we were ready to push play.

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CPlay committee members Owen Jackson, Chris Fauth meeting with Parks and Timaru District Council Parks and Recreation Jane Morrison and Stormwater Specialist Uki Dele meet onsite to discuss the plans.


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Fundraising for a new $2 million playground at Caroline Bay has received a $100,000 boost. Trust Aoraki has granted the CPlay committee its biggest single donation so far, in a welcome boost to the voluntary group’s fundraising efforts.


Oh happy day . . . Celebrating a 250,000 boost for CPlay are (top, from left) CPlay committee members Owen Jackson, Alice Brice, Leanne Prendeville (red top), (front, from left) Roselyn Fauth and Lynette Wilson; and Janine Quigley, Liz Shea and Pauline-Jean Luyten from the Community Trust of Mid and South Canterbury. PHOTO: GEOFF CLOAKE


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A $1,029,000 investment from the Timaru District Council, confirmed this week, has boosted the total raised so far to $1.35million of the $2million target. The council had originally indicated a $50,000 investment, but the CPlay playground committee successfully petitioned at the long-term plan hearings for a more significant contribution. The boost meant the playground could be installed and operational by July next year, although the committee’s chairman, Owen Jackson, said that was flexible. “Depending on the generosity of the community, it could be fast-tracked. Once the money is signed, sealed and delivered, it’s only a six-month timeframe.” 

Great progress . . . CPlay members (from left) Alice Brice, with Hugo Brice (3), Lynette Wilson, Sarah Mills, chairman Owen Jackson, John Rushton, Timaru district councillor Barbara Gilchrist, Roselyn Fauth holding Annabelle Fauth (2), and Leanne Prendeville celebrate the latest funding boost. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISON


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On the homeward stretch . . . Galloping towards the fundraising finish line are CPlay committee mem bers (from left) Lynette Wilson, Chris Fauth, Roselyn Fauth, Owen Jackson, Brent Birchfield and Leanne Prendeville. PHOTO: CLAIRE ALLISONCPlay SigningOfContract 220412

Milestone . . . Celebrating the signing of contracts for the new Caroline Bay playground are (from left) CPlay committee chairman Owen Jackson, CPlay member Leanne Prendeville, Timaru District Council parks and recreation manager Bill Steans, CPlay project manager Graham Ward, CPlay members Vicki Gould and Brent Birchfield, and Timaru deputy mayor Steve Wills.


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 Section from a photograph taken by the Burton Brothers circa 1882; of the "Ben Venue" stranded. In the distance you can see the Caroline Bay coastline before the sand started to accumulate.  Courtesy Te Papa (C.025205)

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The Lighthouse tower was installed 26th October 2023. It was brought down by truck and ferry from the Playground Centre in Wanganui to Timaru over two days by PTD Logistics. 360 Cranes lifted it into place with CPlay's equipment installers, Curle Construction.  Photos By Roselyn Fauth


CPlay lighthouse lifted into position with the help of 360 Cranes & Haulage - Photo South Canterbury Drone Photography


CPlay Curle Construction Installing the mouse wheel Geoff Cloake

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 Numat Rec team install the name "Pohatu-koko" into the playground surfacing at the Caroline Bay playground.


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Race up one side, and back down the other, can you master the floor is lava course?

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Over the past 4 months the playground has slowly taken shape under the guidance of our project manager and the design team.  Thankfully the weather has been mainly kind and although there are still challenges to overcome none of them are insurmountable and the risk factor that remained on ‘HIGH’ for much of the project has dissipated. - Photo Roselyn Fauth


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There has been renewed energy of late now that the public can see the progress down at Caroline Bay and it was extremely gratifying over the recent school holidays to see children peering through the fences in anticipation of the playground opening up in late October/early November.


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Owen Jackson (OJ) helps plant a tree 2 November 2023 - Photo Roselyn Fauth


In summary, CPlay has been the most daunting thing I have ever undertaken. 

I have endured sleepless nights thinking “what the hell am I doing?  I have no experience in bringing together multi million dollar projects”. But I have never doubted that this playground would not happen and have often quietly repeated the Thomas Edison quote to myself…

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is ALWAYS TO TRY just one more time”.

One person alone could never make this project succeed which is why I have focused on surrounding myself with other skilful and passionate volunteers, some of whom I have mentioned here, to create an unforgettable play experience for now and for future generations to enjoy.

This is a project that has touched so many people over the past few years and my recollections here are only an overview of what took place on that journey…and what a journey it has been!

Like everyone else who has been involved in CPlay I am looking forward with real excitement to the day the playground is completed, the fences come down and families can enjoy a free and fun space to learn, grow and connect.

I’ll probably shed a tear or two, continually thank those who made it all possible (particularly the CPlay team), take a deep breath and then sit quietly and reflect on the real difference that everyday people who are passionate about their community can make.

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The CPlay playground was initially inspired by the Margaret Mahy playground, so we thought it would be a cool exercise to compare the size of the 2 playgrounds to give some perspective on just how big the new playground space at Caroline Bay is. The Margaret Mahy playground covers an area of 16,288.86 m2 including its bike park addition whereas CPlay covers a total area of a whopping 18,085.27 m2 including its skatepark. That’s a lot of play space for the Timaru district community to enjoy! Regardless of who lays claim to being the biggest playground in the southern hemisphere we all know how beneficial playgrounds are to their communities and CPlay is going to provide hours and hours of free fun and create many lasting memories this summer and for many years to come.


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Standing on the old playground Owen Jackson with daughter Ruby - Photo Roselyn Fauth

310723 OwenandRubyJackson ShipwreckOwen Jackson with daughter Ruby Jackson. Photo Roselyn Fauth

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Bill Steans and Owen Jackson -RoselynFauth


Congratulations to the CPlay team, who have volunteered their time for over four years.

In alphabetical order
Alice Brice  Grant Applications Lead
Brent Birchfield  Corporate Fundraising
Chris Fauth  Consultation, Grants & Design Team
Francine Spencer  Cultural Liaison & Design Team
Graham Ward  Project Manager & Design Team
John Rushton  Design Oversight & Design Team
Leanne Prendeville  Donations Secretary
Lynette Wilson  Secretary
Owen Jackson (OJ)  CPlay Chair & Corporate Fundraising
Roselyn Fauth  Communications, Research & Design Team
Sarah Mills  Project Support
Vicki Gould  Project Support

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From Left athe back: Leanne Prendeville, Louise Haley, Roselyn Fauth, Chris Fauth, Brent Birchfield, Alice Brice Grant, and Vicki Gould. Front Row: Lynette Wilson, Owen Jackson (OJ), Francine Spencer, and Sarah Dumicich-Mills. Absent: Graham Ward and John Rushton.


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Owne Jackson (OJ cut the cake with the Cplay committee. Back left: Roselyn and Chris Fauth and John Rushton. Middle from left: Sarah Dumicich-Mills, Louise Haley, Alice Brice, Lynette Wilson, Brent Birchfield, Leanne Prendeville and CPlay family. Absent: Francine Spencer and Graham Ward.


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Noticed damage, graffiti, rubbish etc?  Please contact Timaru District Coucil via their "Snap, Send, Solve" app or form: timaru.govt.nz/fix-it

For urgent attention phone Customer Services 03 687 7200.

You can still reach our volunteers via email, just keep in mind we are not actively monitoring our messages, so thank you for your patience if we take some time to respond. info@cplay.co.nz

1 Virtue Ave, Caroline Bay, Timaru
(Off SH 1, Evans St).

OPEN 7 days / 24 hrs 

©2020-2024 CPlay and  Website Sponsored by Cloake Creative   Images are subject to copyright by various contributors - for the sole use of CPlay.