U-PLAY a success for a second time

Published on 03 February 2023

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A coordinated approach has made U-PLAY a tried and tested success the second time round when Council ran a three-week-long summer holiday event series in Upper Hutt during the 2023 January holidays for our tamariki and their whānau.

Mike Ryan, Director of Community Services said, “It’s part of our commitment to support keeping tamariki engaged and active over the holiday period.  Council also collaborated with sports organisations and invited them to put on their play events for our tamariki.”

Activation, Upper Hutt Libraries, H2O Xtream Aquatic Centre, and Whirinaki Whare Taonga worked together to put on more than 50 events across different venues in Upper Hutt. 

The Activation team had community support from Totara Park Softball Club, Wellington Touch Association, SkateEd, Total Pursuit and Upper Hutt Floorball Club. Upper Hutt Floorball Club took the opportunity and delivered their first Summer Floorball Tournament and more than 70 tamariki registered to play in the tournament.  Total Pursuit put out a social tennis event for parents and children to play at the Maidstone Park Tennis Courts. 

U-PLAY was also supported by Special Olympics New Zealand who joined Activation staff to demonstrate and facilitate inclusive play indoors. The team from Special Olympics were pleased that the Council had included inclusive play in U-PLAY and indicated that they would continue to support U-PLAY holiday events.

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Our Activation and Community Development teams with the Special Olympics staff at U-PLAY “Inclusive Indoor Play Series " (L-R: Jayden Richards, Special Olympics New Zealand; Brent Hayward, Activation; Cat Hamlin, Activation; Jane Braun, Community Development; Whero West, Community Development; Cole Gwilliam, Special Olympics New Zealand)


Activation trialled “Outdoor Games Days” at four parks and reserves around Upper Hutt – from Kaitoke Regional Park to Pinehaven Reserve – and the community turned up to play. The team also put on their first Maidstone Meltdown where they invited tamariki and rangatahi to take on one another in 3-on-3 street basketball or skateboarding competitions, and had games, music and food around Maidstone Max for casual play.

The events at Upper Hutt Libraries were a ‘sold-out’ success. Registered events like the Escape Room and others had requests from the community to be waitlisted and open events like the Box Maze were well-attended by more than 70 tamariki and their whanau at Central Library. The Libraries even set aside three afternoons for teens to play board games like Carcassone, Wingspan and Spot-it.


A rangatahi making his beeswax wrap at the Libraries’ U-PLAY “Beeswax Wrap” event.


Whirinaki Whare Taonga collected 150 artworks in their ‘Make and Create’ events and these artworks will be included in their upcoming exhibition “The Big Show” in February. “I love how Whirinaki had allowed four days for my children to finish their artwork in their own time.  I can’t wait to see their artwork in the exhibition,” said a mother of two primary school-aged children who submitted their artwork during the “Make and Create” event.

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One of the 150 artwork submitted during the U-PLAY “Make and Create” event for “The Big Show”.


“We love the kayaking sessions at H2O Xtream and would love for them to run it again next school holidays,” said a mother of an 11-year-old who attended the event.

The first U-PLAY holiday events were held in October 2022 and had just over 15 events which spanned across the two weeks of the 2022 October school holidays.