Rau rangatira mā, e kui mā, e koro mā, e huihui nei, tēnei aku mihi māhana ki a koutou. Kia ora tātou katoa. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, warm greetings to you all.
I specifically acknowledge: Hon Jonathan Young, MP for New Plymouth; Hon Chester Borrows MP for Whanganui, and Shane Ardern, MP for Taranaki-King Country; Your Worships Harry Duynhoven, Ross Dunlop and Neil Volzke, Mayors of New Plymouth, South Taranaki and Stratford District respectively; David Lean, Deputy Chairman, Taranaki Regional Council and Basil Chamberlain, Chief Executive, Taranaki Regional Council. Tēnā koutou katoa .
Thank you for inviting me and Janine to Hollard Gardens here in Kaponga and for asking me to officially open this new centre.
Earlier today when I unveiled the foundation plaque for the Len Lye Gallery I said that this seems to be the day for unveiling plaques. And now I’m about to repeat the performance here I’m a little nervous that this seemingly simple task could easily go wrong – a jammed curtain rail or a plaque falling off its stand. This morning’s unveiling went smoothly so I’m hoping my luck continues to hold.
Notwithstanding my slight apprehension, I am certainly pleased to be standing here in such glorious surroundings. Not many things delights New Zealanders more than a garden. It’s where we go to renew our connection with the land, to reflect and to witness beauty.
Katherine Mansfield is noted for using a garden party in one of her short stories to examine turn of the century New Zealand class consciousness and sensitivities. What’s less well known is that she thought gardening was a noble past time. In a letter to John Middleton Murray, she exhorted him to “Grow things. Plant. Dig up. I feel with all the force of my being that ‘happiness’ is in these things.”
I’m not sure if Bernie or Rose Hollard, the Gardens’ founders read Katherine Mansfield’s writings, but I’m sure they would have agreed with her sentiments. The Gardens were their lifetime work and represent many years of growing, planting and digging up. What I’m informed started as a bit of paddock belonging to a modest private farmhouse is now a 4.5 hectare oasis of beauty for everyone to enjoy.
It’s most appropriate that we are here today to open a building that will offer opportunities for the public to learn more about plants and gardening. Bernie Hollard was a man who delighted in both learning about plants and sharing what he knew. He and Rose were also generous in sharing their garden with others. They opened it for charity events and welcomed thousands of visitors over the years. It is inspiring to see their legacy being nurtured and expanded upon by the current day horticultural team.
I’m told that Bernie still looms large as a presence here – or rather the impressive wooden replica of his old recliner chair does - standing as a sentinel in the playground. It’s an appropriate nod to the past as Hollard Gardens continues to move forward. On that note, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the presence here today of Bernie and Rose’s two sons Milton Hollard and Dr Thoron Hollard.
If I was more of a gardener, I’d follow Bernie’s example by dispensing some gardening advice of my own right now. I do garden, in the sense that Janine decides what we’ll plant and I dig the holes, put the plants in and pull weeds. I know my place and I know that doesn’t qualify me as a gardening authority.
I do know, however, that, to borrow Rudyard Kipling’s words, “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful’ and sitting in the shade.” My own hole digging and weed-eating duties have shown me that!
I do get enjoyment from gardening, but it’s accompanied by hours of back breaking work in all sorts of weather conditions. The end results give us much pleasure, but there is much that has to happen before we end up with the final product – if indeed you can ever declare a garden finished.
I was struck by Bernie’s description of the land as it was when he first began planting in 1927. He described it as having “many undesirable hungry trees” which meant it could not be completely cultivated and the ground was covered in weeds. Not exactly the most prepossessing spot to develop a garden of note, let alone one that would be of national reknown! However, passionate gardeners don’t scare easily and as we are witness, Bernie’s determination won out.
I think Bernie and Rose would be delighted by this new Centre. Hollard Garden’s great reputation for outreach, its workshops and courses for the community will be complemented by this facility. Who knows what amazing horticultural feats might be germinated by a visit here.
The people of Taranaki have every right to be proud of Hollard Gardens. It is an asset of outstanding value to your community. Regional Gardens Manager Greg Rine and the Taranaki Regional Council deserve praise for their care and stewardship of this precious place. I also commend Hollard Gardens Manager Sandra Powell and her staff for their passion and commitment as they build Bernie’s and Rose’s legacy, making sure the beauty of Hollard is improved for future generations.
Congratulations to you all. I hope this Centre adds to the enjoyment of everyone who visits this very special place. And so on that note, it gives me great pleasure to unveil this plaque. Kia ora huihui tātou katoa.