'Children's right to play' focus of Christchurch conference

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Inclusive Margaret Mahy Playground in Christchurch, NZ The inclusive all-ages, all-abilities Margaret Mahy Playground in Christchurch, NZ Photo Credit: Supplied

Christchurch, New Zealand, will host the International Play Association (IPA) World Conference 2026, the first time it has been held in the Southern Hemisphere.

The IPA is focused on 'creating a world where all children have the right to play in their own way.' The association’s membership is formed of play practitioners, researchers, educators, and businesses.

A triennial event, the four-day conference at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre is expected to attract 1,000 delegates.

Toni Talijancich, general manager at Play Aotearoa, presented to winning bid during the 2023 International Play Conference in Glasgow.

"This is a huge opportunity to put Christchurch and New Zealand on the map for the play sector, and to introduce our unique approach to bi-culturalism, diversity, and inclusion to this global audience," Talijancich said.

Megan Crum, head of business events at ChristchurchNZ, added, "We have a reputation as a city in balance – a place to work and play. The IPA delegates will be able to experience our wonderful natural South Island playground, and our purpose-built, environment first-hand," she says.

A short distance from Te Pae Christchurch, the Margaret Mahy Playground can be found. It is an award-winning all-ages, all-abilities playground which can also be used to hold outdoor events. At more than 16,000 sqm, it has capacity for up to 1,000 people.

"Hosting IPA delegates from all over the world to our city will be a thrilling experience for everyone involved, and this event will leave a lasting legacy for our city," Crum added.

Tourism New Zealand general manager NZ and business events, Bjoern Spreitzer, said that the conference win is a fantastic opportunity for experts from around the world to share their knowledge with our play specialists.

"We hope in the spirit of the conference that visitors also take the time to seek out, explore and enjoy all New Zealand can offer."

Play Aotearoa is the New Zealand branch of IPA World (International Play Association) an international nongovernmental organisation, founded in 1961 to provide a forum to promote and improve opportunities for play, and the development of play environments, leisure time facilities and programmes for all children and youth in all countries, in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

IPA member groups initiate a wide variety of projects that promote the child's right to play. These include seminars, conferences, study tours, research, publications, playground design, playwork training and the organisation of play programmes and Play Days.

Holly Patrick
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Holly Patrick
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A desire to travel led Holly Patrick to the business meetings and events world and she’s never looked back. Holly takes a particular interest in event sustainability and creating a diverse and inclusive industry. When she’s not working, she can be found rolling skating along Brighton seafront listening to an eclectic playlist, featuring the likes of Patti Smith, Sean Paul, and Arooj Aftab.

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