It was a right royal celebration at Millers Flat primary school on Friday with the opening of a new playground followed by a community lunch to celebrate coronation weekend.

School principal Hilary Spedding said the old playground had been built by the grandparents of current pupils. It was long past its use by date and was rotten in places.

The Education Ministry did not contribute funds to playgrounds, so the school had to find the $150,000 for the rebuild. It took a combination of “major grants” from Central Lakes Trust and Otago Community Trust along with PTA and Board of Trustees fundraising to foot the bill, Mrs Spedding said.

A-MFSchoolPlayground Millers Flat School principal Hilary Spedding (left) with Norman Paterson and Betty White, the oldest former pupils still living in Millers Flat at the opening of the school’s new playground.

With just 25 pupils at the school raising that amount of money was a huge feat.

“A huge, huge effort on the finance side of things and a huge community effort to get it done as well.”

The playground was designed by Mrs Spedding and a specialist playground company to extend the children’s learning.

Dexterity learned on the monkey bars helped with handwriting, figuring out how to get around the playground improved problem solving in the classroom, she said.

The school pupils entertained the audience of parents, grandparents and community members with songs and haka before the ribbon was cut by the school’s youngest boy Cooper Bengston (5) and girl Maddie Bath (8) along with Norman Paterson, who started school at Millers Flat in 1946, and Betty Adams, the oldest ex-pupils still living in Millers Flat.