Construction of a new sensory playground is progressing well at Waikaka School, thanks in part to school dads playing dress up.

The project has been led by the school’s parent teacher association.

Association president Victoria Weir said she saw a sensory area at another school in 2019 and was impressed.

She thought ‘‘having a tactile sensory garden for the children to explore would be amazing’’, Ms Weir said.

Principal Bronwyn McCall and the staff were in favour of the idea but Covid interrupted the planning of the project.

In 2021 the association started fundraising.

The major fundraising event was a beauty pageant where six fathers dressed up in female clothing. The event was won by Greg Lamb.

After the money was raised, teacher Mel Taylor asked the pupils what they would like in the garden and then landscape architect Charlotte Harder came up with a plan.

During the holidays, Heaps Landscaping staff completed the earthworks part of the playground.

New space . . . The six Waikaka School fathers who dressed up for a beauty pageant to raise money for a sensory playground at the school, Heaps Landscaping staff who completed the building work of the playground and pupils (from left) Madie Crowe (10), Ruby Wilson (6), Reggie Cross (5), Tyler Berry (11), Helena Byars (8) and Zac Miller (8) admire the playground. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

In the autumn, plants which would be edible, scented and textured would be planted in the area, Ms Weir said.

The pupils would also add art and objects that made sound.

Right from the start of the fundraising the community had been behind the project, Ms Weir said.

People had lent equipment or helped with driving posts.

The structural part of the playground cost about $24,000.

Despite the playground being unfinished, the pupils were spending time in the area, Ms McCall said.

‘‘They already love it.

‘‘There’s never a break when they’re not on it.’’