Magic Play Box creates outside-the-box thinking

Apanui School students enjoying the magic of play
Issue date:
Happy and healthy
Learning and developing
Bay of Plenty

Students at Apanui School are rediscovering the magic of play after starting their school year facing the impacts of a devastating fire that destroyed eight of their classrooms.

The Eastern Bay of Plenty primary school recently received a Magic Play Box thanks to the combined efforts of play advocates from across the motu. A Magic Play Box contains a range of upcycled materials such as rope, pipes, wheels, crates and wood, designed to encourage children to explore their imagination through free and unstructured play.

Apanui School principal Simon Akroyd said the Magic Play Box was gifted to the school after its creators learned of February's fire, which left only a handful of learning resources available for the students.

“Through this whole experience, we’ve really felt the manaaki (support, generosity) of the community. The Magic Play Box will go some way to enabling play to resume at the school and encourage our tauira (students) to get inventive, challenge themselves and build confidence during play time,” Simon said.

Over the past two years Apanui School, with the support of Longworth Education, has been committed to enabling students to learn through play, both within and outside of the classroom.

Steph Reichardt from Sports Bay of Plenty sees play as an important part of young people’s development and says she’s thrilled to see local pupils being encouraged and given opportunities to play.

“Play is crucial to helping kids develop their motor skills and creativity, and accelerates their self-confidence as they navigate challenges and make decisions to solve problems.”

“It’s important that opportunities for free play continue to be available to today’s kids - particularly in an era where backyards are smaller, there is more traffic and there has been a gradual move to introduce more structured forms of physical activity at a younger age.”

“Play allows kids to be kids and let their imaginations run wild as they have fun and get active while adults stand back,” says Steph

For more information about play, go to

Funding for play

Bay of Plenty organisations working with young people, including schools, can access funding to support play by applying for the Tū Manawa Active Aotearoa fund being administered by Sport Bay of Plenty.

Limited play funds remain in round one, so organisations are encouraged to apply soon. New funding will be available in the next financial year. Visit for details.

About Magic Play Box
The Magic Play Box was created by Sport Waitākere and is being supported in the Bay of Plenty by Longworth Education – a consultancy helping primary schools implement learning through play. Several schools have already trialled the Magic Play Box, creating everything from swings to moveable carts.