Playground to be named for children's author Joy Cowley

4:30 pm on 27 September 2023
Writer Joy Cowley with family dog Rosa.

Author Joy Cowley Photo: Supplied / Weston Cowley

A much-loved writer and Wairarapa literary icon is to be honoured by having a children's playground named after her.

Featherston resident and children's author Joy Cowley was delighted by the decision the town's local playground will soon have her name.

The playground is popular with children in the area and boasts a flying fox, climbing gear, seesaw, picnic tables and range of fun equipment for children of all ages.

Cowley will be able to add the playground naming to her other awards, which include the Order of New Zealand and the Order of the British Empire.

"My heart is dancing with delight, and if the rest of me could remember how to dance, it would, too," Cowley said.

Years ago she had heard the playground was to get her name: "I wanted to believe it, but there was no follow up and I dismissed it as rumour," she said.

"My love of children gets into books, and now it will be part of a place where children play. I can't think of any honour higher than that."

She was very happy to accept the accolade, and said it was wonderful news.

Featherston's Community Board had asked South Wairarapa District Council (SWDC) to name the public playground in their town the Joy Cowley Children's Playground.

SWDC considered the recommendation at its meeting yesterday on Wednesday 27 September, and agreed unanimously.

"Joy Cowley is a much-loved New Zealand Children's author, a long-term resident of Featherston and the patron of Featherston Booktown," the recommendation said.

"We the Featherston Community Board recommend that we celebrate Joy, our living taonga who lives in and champions our community, by naming the public playground in her honour."

An online survey had 129 responses with 125 in favour of the new park name. More than 80 of the responses were from current Featherston residents with the balance from people with a connection to or interest in Featherston.

In 2020, Cowley received the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Award, limited to 20 living people.

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