NZ flag never smelled so sweet

By Aimee van der Weyden

It may not look like much at the moment, but entrepreneur John Bougen hopes his New Zealand flag made out of lavender plants will become great a tourist attraction for Reefton. Photo / Lee Scanlon
It may not look like much at the moment, but entrepreneur John Bougen hopes his New Zealand flag made out of lavender plants will become great a tourist attraction for Reefton. Photo / Lee Scanlon

Entrepreneur John Bougen has his fingers crossed that his latest project - the New Zealand flag made out of lavender - will grow into a wonderful-smelling tourist attraction for Reefton.

The Reefton man, who also happens to be New Zealand's most travelled person, is a fervent supporter of the New Zealand flag. During the flag referendum, he came up with the idea of planting lavender in the design of the traditional New Zealand flag.

Over 2500 pink, white and blue lavender plants were planted on a section of land - the old area school playing field - owned by Mr Bougen.

About 4000 square metres of weed matting and 150 tonnes of lime chip also went down.

The last lavender bush was planted about a week before the final referendum, Mr Bougen said.

"If the flag changed, it was a historical record. And if it didn't change, well then we nailed it."

He was pleased it was the latter.

The project also aimed to provide employment in Reefton, Mr Bougen said. He'd hired eight people to plant the lavender, and had employed a chief gardener to maintain it.

"It's quite labour intensive."

He hoped the flag would eventually become a tourist feature, given the plants actually grew.

"Everybody says that lavender's not going to grow here."

He decided to wait a year to see if it did.

"If it does, and we think it will, then we can maybe plant some more somewhere who knows.

"If they grow as well as we hope they do, then we'll go and build a little viewing platform."

Looking at it currently required "a bit of imagination", he said.

Producing lavender oil from the plants was also something he was considering. However, it was another two years before the plants were mature enough to make oil out of.

"If it grows, great. Then we'll go to the next stage. If it doesn't well we'll go to plan B. We just don't know what plan B is yet."

A couple near Springs Junction produced lavender oil successfully, proof it was possible in Reefton, he said.

- Westport News

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