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Opening of a Native Plant Garden, New Zealand

Volume 3 Number 7 - February 2001

Steve Benham

The Threatened Native Plant Garden (TNPG) at the Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens was opened by the Right Honorable Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand/Aotearoa on the 29th September 2001 - a hot and glorious spring day. The Prime Minister unveiled the Plaque, which had been temporarily covered with the fronds of mamaku (Cyathea medullaris) in the presence of one hundred and ten invited guests. There was a public opening on the following day when staff led guided tours with the help of the volunteers.

This was the culmination of plans which had started in November 1999 when the Garden received notification of their NZ$ 100,000 award from Central Government. Construction on the 4,010 m² site for the TNPG commenced in May 2000 with Garden staff and specialist contractors for earth moving and electrical installations and continued through to September 2001. The Garden displays a collection of native threatened and non-threatened plants of Auckland and Northland regions in replicated habitats such as inland forest and scrub, wetland, gumland (previously logged "kauri" - Agathis australis - forests with heavily nutrient leached soils), coastal rocky bluff, boulder/pebble beach, salt marsh, lava-field and an off-shore island all interconnected with a re-circulating water feature. Planting started in June 2001.

During this period of intense activity a small team met regularly to formulate a plan for the Botanic Garden’s generic interpretive signage system which will be tested in the TNPG. The budget to write, design and construct signs for the TNPG was capped at NZ $15,000. The signs will be of folded steel construction and screen printed with vinyl text and images.

The collection will require a high level of curation. One of the solutions contemplated is a TNPC Care Group made up of volunteers responsible to the Curator. Several members of the Auckland Botanical Society have shown an interest in forming such a working relationship.

The Threatened Native Plant Garden is proving to be a very popular destination with our visitors and is already creating a greater awareness that our native plants are at risk as well as helping our visitors understand one of our fundamental roles, namely biodiversity conservation.