Christchurch snags the International Play Association World Conference 2026

Christchurch snags the International Play Association World Conference 2026
Edited by Travel Weekly


    Ōtautahi Christchurch has won the rights to host the International Play Association (IPA) World Conference 2026, the first time it has been held in the Southern Hemisphere.

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

    The Christchurch bid was presented at the 2023 conference in Glasgow by Toni Talijancich, general manager at Play Aotearoa and supported by ChristchurchNZ and Tourism New Zealand Business Events.

    Toni Talijancich said the IPA is focused on creating a world where all tamariki (children) have the right to play in their own way. Their membership is made up of play practitioners, researchers, educators, and businesses.

    “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.

    ChristchurchNZ head of business events, Megan Crum said Ōtautahi Christchurch is an inspiring choice for the international IPA World Conference.

    “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 said.

    Just a block from Te Pae Christchurch, the Margaret Mahy Playground is an award-winning all-ages, all-abilities playground which can also be used to hold outdoor events. At over 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 said.

    Tourism New Zealand general manager NZ and business events, Bjoern Spreitzer said this 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,” he said.

    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.

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