Playgrounds on school sites

Designing, building and upgrading playgrounds and providing playground equipment are your responsibilities as a board of trustees. There are some standards you must meet. You must maintain the playground to keep it safe.

Building or upgrading a playground

You're responsible for designing, building and upgrading playgrounds and providing playground equipment.

When planning to build or upgrade a playground, you can choose your playground design and equipment, as long as the:

  • design meets New Zealand Standard 5828:2015: Playground equipment and surfacing
  • building work follows the Ministry’s project management requirements.

Role of the board of trustees in school property projects

You can buy the standard and the handbook, which gives advice on standard compliance, from the Standards NZ website:

NZS 5828:2015: Playground equipment and surfacing (external link)

NZS HB 5828.1 General Playground Equipment and Surfacing Handbook (external link)

Building consent for a new playground

You or your project manager should contact the local council to find out whether your planned playground needs building consent. Even if it does not require building consent, you must still:

  • get this advice in writing from the council
  • keep it in the project file for future reference.

Choosing the right playground equipment

There are different types of playground equipment available. Some are high risk, like trampolines, off-road BMX tracks and skate tracks.

When deciding what type of equipment to install, consider whether it will affect your ability to provide a safe environment for your students.

Paying for a new playground

You must use board funding to pay the costs of building a playground.

Board funding for property projects

Playground modifications for students with learning support needs

You may be able to get  to provide access to playgrounds for students with learning support needs. This could include installing a ramped path for wheelchair access to the playing field or playground.

Property funding for learning support facilities

This property modification funding doesn't cover modifications to playground equipment, for example:

  • installing a wheelchair swing
  • adding ramps and rails to a fort or climbing equipment.

These modifications can be paid for with board funding.

Maintaining your playground

If you have used board funding to build the playground, you must use board funding to maintain it or do any rebuilding and upgrades.

If you have used 5 Year  funding to build a playground, the Ministry owns it.

5 Year Agreement (5YA)

You can then use your Property Maintenance Grant to maintain the playground.

Property Maintenance Grant

You can use your 5YA funding to address health and safety issues.

The project must meet our requirements for a capital project.

5 Year Agreement (5YA)

For example, replacing bark is an operating expense rather than a capital work, and therefore not an appropriate use of 5YA funding. Any work on Ministry-owned playgrounds is a priority 4 project. Visit 10 Year Property Plans (10YPP) page for information on work priorities).

10 Year Property Plans

Ask your property advisor if you're unsure of who owns your existing playground.

Managing playgrounds built with CCA-treated timber

In the past, some playground structures were built with Chromated copper arsenate- (CCA) treated timber. This is timber treated with a preserving mixture containing copper, chromium and arsenic.

Visit our CCA webpage for information on how to manage it in your playground.

Chromated copper arsenate (CCA) treated timber in schools

Insuring your playground

The Ministry’s School Buildings Insurance Funding Programme doesn't cover playgrounds.

School Building Insurance Funding Programme

If you want to insure your school playground, you must:

  • take out your own insurance policy
  • pay for it using board funding.

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