The site was originally covered with a stand of Cypress macrocarpa trees which were probably planted at the same time as the Torrey pine in 1888, and other trees resulting from seed of American trees given to the Park in 1886 by the Government.

In 1953 a group of macrocarpa trees were felled to make way for the development of the playground which included swings, seesaws, climbing frames, a merry-go-round, and a slide. One of the macrocarpa trees had a swing hanging from one of its branches.  Hanging swings from tree branches in this area of the park dated back to 1922, which were the only children’s play equipment in the park until 1953.

Children's Playground - Pukekura Park

The see-saw, Swings and Climbing Frame probably from the original installation in 1953

A paddling pool was constructed as a community project by the New Plymouth Jaycees, in 1960, and was known as the Barclay Pool. Along with the paddling pool, was the installation of a drinking fountain on top of which the Don Driver ‘Cats’ sculpture sat. The sculpture was taken out of the playground when the paddling pool was removed during the mid to latter part of 2003.  The original sculpture was refurbished and is now part of the Govett-Brewster collection.  A replica was created in 2012 and was installed during the 2013 revamp of the playground.

Children's Playground - Paddling Pool under construction

Taranaki Herald, Sept 24, 1960

Don Driver - 'Cats' Sculpture 1971

Puke Ariki ARC2003-859-3

The playground also underwent a redevelopment in 1986 at which time two wooden forts/tree houses were built.  The larger of the two was constructed up next to Hughes Walk and the second smaller one was next to the bridge through into the play area from Palm Lawn.  At this time the old swings and seesaws were refurbished and the merry-go-round was removed because of safety concerns. It was also at this time the TSB Bank were granted naming rights for TSB Children’s Playground. 


Wooden Fort - Children's Playground - Pukekura Park

Children's Playground - Pukekura Park - 1986 Redevelopment Plan

The present design and layout of  playground took place in 2013 with the official reopening taking place in October 2013. The revamp required the removal of the forts as these no longer complied with the latest NZ/Australasian codes for playgrounds. Ideas for the 2013 revamp  came from a consultation held with the following local schools, Central School, St Pius School, and Highlands Intermediate by the designer.