Second StoryWalk® for Manawatū District unveiled at Kōwhai Park

Following the success of Manawatū District Libraries installation of StoryWalk® at Mt Lees in November last year, the libraries team have been working on bringing another children’s story to life in natural surroundings, this time at Kōwhai Park in Feilding.

Working again with children’s author Juliette MacIver and her publisher Gecko Press, the libraries team unveiled the new StoryWalk® on Monday, 3 July. With permission from Gecko Press, the library team have replicated Juliette’s story That’s Not A Hippopotamus, Illustrated by Sarah Davis, directly onto boards into the park surroundings. It is also translated into a Te Reo Māori version, Te Hipo Huna, with the permission of translator Karena Kelly for its use.

The Manawatū District Council Parks Team have made enhancements to the bush area of the park, to ensure that it’s accessible for all with the installation of gravel paths and new bridges. Work will continue in the area to make the space more welcoming users.

Marie Willis, Community Hub Programmes Leader, says that the success of the Mt Lees StoryWalk® has been very pleasing and it convinced them that the concept would work at Kōwhai Park.

“We’ve been delighted by the response we’ve had to the work that was done at Mt Lees. We’ve received some great feedback from people who have taken their children up there and they’ve enjoyed reading the story and pretending that they’re in the story itself. Kōwhai Park seemed like the ideal location for the new StoryWalk® with the enhancements that are being made to the park.”

Julia Marshall, of Gecko Press, says that they’re excited to see another story come to life through the StoryWalk® concept.

“We appreciate the care and effort that the Libraries team and Council put into developing That's Not a Hippopotamus/Te Hipo Huna at Kōwhai Park. They've been so enthusiastic about bringing Juliette and Sarah's story to the StoryWalk®. At Gecko Press we are always looking for new ways to bring books and children together and so we can’t wait to see the story up and in amongst the bush at Kōwhai Park.”

StoryWalk® is a fun and interactive way for children and adults to engage with an outdoor environment, whilst reading pages of a book that are scattered around a location.

The concept took off in New Zealand during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. Libraries throughout the country put up temporary signage boards with book pages laminated to them for people to read on their walks.

The new StoryWalk® at Kōwhai Park will instead be a permanent feature, which will hopefully be enjoyed by many generations of children to come.