Shailer Park building their ‘nangara’
Construction of a unique playground designed in collaboration with local Aboriginal elders is underway at Goodstart Shailer Park
The project has been named ‘nangara’, an Aboriginal word meaning ‘our special place’.
For centre director Kristy Morgan, gaining the input and approval of the elders was a crucial step in a project which is close to her heart.
“In 2012 I begun reflecting about the importance of embedding Indigenous perspectives in our centre. I identified that I needed to know more and this began a five year journey for myself and my staff.
“When you connect with the history and culture, there is an intrinsic drive to ensure that respect and authenticity is given to embedding indigenous perspectives in the work that we do at the centre with the children.”
The initial idea was to use the new playground to create a point of difference for the centre while being respectful and representative of indigenous culture, but quickly grew to acquire deeper meaning with the involvement of elders Uncle Des, of the Yagerra nation, and Uncle Barry of the Wergaia nation.
“We wanted our yard to have a point of difference and thought it would be meaningful to link it to the indigenous community with cultural references built into the architecture and landscaping.
“We discussed the plan with our architect and were then able to connect with Uncle Des and Uncle Barry. They were ecstatic to be involved and came out to the centre to see our plans.
“At this meeting Uncle Barry explained that some of the design elements were disrespectful to the culture, so they both worked with us to discuss alternatives and have the plan redrawn.
“The outcome is a new design which will be an amazing space for the children, with meaningful cultural references. We plan to use our yard as a third teacher.”
The playground, set for completion in August, will feature:
- An artificial creek bed with bends and forks representing the Brisbane and Logan river systems
- A symbol which represents a meeting place in the middle of the yarning circle
- A winding path with circular pavers laid into rubber strips, representing the indigenous symbol for ‘journey’
- A path with inlays of blue cobble stones, which are symbols for two water holes linked by running water
- Native Australian and edible bush tucker plants
Children at the centre will also be involved in the building of a mudth, a traditional hut, with a team of Torres Strait Island men.
“The project has sparked interest all over South East Queensland,” Ms Morgan continued.
“Members from many different committees and indigenous groups have welcomed me to their meetings and will be attending our open day.
“We’re also discussing with Uncle Barry the possibility of having the site included as a destination on his annual RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) bus tour.
“We’d love for this to happen. It would be a real endorsement of our ‘special place’.
The project has seen Ms Morgan welcomed by many different committees and indigenous groups, all of whom will be in attendance when the opening of the playground is celebrated.
“We plan to continually work on our new partnerships, including children in our networking as often as possible.
“Reconciliation was already rich in our program, and now we have it in our physical environment as well.”
Keep an eye on the Goodstart blog for photos of the playground over the next few months.