This weekend marks the return of a regular event on the Te Awamutu calendar — Rose Sunday.

Organiser Dean Taylor from the Te Awamutu Rose Trust says Rose Sunday was instigated as an annual event to celebrate Te Awamutu Rose Gardens at their peak.

He is bringing it back to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the gardens on December 1, 1969 — about a year after the concept was first floated.

Te Awamutu Rose Garden project convener was the late Ray Hyams.

Advertisement

He raised the idea with service club Te Awamutu Jaycees and they launched the project at their November, 1968 meeting.

Speaking with Ray before the 40th anniversary celebrations, he told the Courier he recalled how quickly things moved once the decision was made — although it was touch-and-go at several steps along the way.

An application was made to the Te Awamutu Borough Council to halt the horse grazing lease to Mr Hinton for the identified land as from December 31, 1968.

Ray said the council decision was not a foregone conclusion, and in fact there was some argument against the project.

But on December 23, 1968 council agreed on the basis that the project was 'not to cost them a penny'.

Jaycees proceeded with some urgency with the aim of having the garden ready for opening by spring 1969 so as to be well established for the World Rose Convention in Hamilton in November, 1971.

A committee was formed, including Ray as convener and representatives of Jaycees, Te Awamutu Rose Society, Te Awamutu Beautifying Society and other interested parties.

Ray paid tribute to all the hard working people who made the project a reality in just nine months — ready for the opening by the Governor-General Sir Arthur Porritt on December 1, 1969.

Advertisement
Te Awamutu Rose Gardens instigator, the late Ray Hyams, pictured in 2008 enjoying Western Sun, one of the first plantings from 1969 that was voted most popular by the public for about five years.
Te Awamutu Rose Gardens instigator, the late Ray Hyams, pictured in 2008 enjoying Western Sun, one of the first plantings from 1969 that was voted most popular by the public for about five years.

Special mention went to Te Awamutu's leading rosarians, the late Pat and Paddy Stephens, for their tireless efforts and valuable knowledge and input.

The couple feature on Te Awamutu's Walk of Fame which is now located in the adjacent Selwyn Park.

Te Awamutu Rose Gardens have remained Te Awamutu's major attraction for five decades and are the oldest public attraction in the precinct now being developed as The Hub.

And most of the facilities and amenities have been developed through the dedication of volunteers and groups looking to improve their town.

Soon after the Rose Gardens were opened the late Tuffy Burchell realised the need for visitor and tourist services in Te Awamutu.

Mr Burchell began what is now a thriving Visitor i-Site Centre from a caravan in the gardens.

With the help of Te Awamutu Lions, the centre was built in Selwyn Park, and later the service group also extended the facility to build Burchell Pavilion.

Te Awamutu Beautification Society was instrumental in adding Fred Graham's 'Fountain of Birds' sculpture and Pioneer Walk.

Te Awamutu Community Board later took up the cause for Pioneer Walk and Waipa District Council extended the walk to encompass the township.

Selwyn Park had for years been home to a public camping ground, with public toilets and a roller skating rink opposite the gardens and Te Awamutu's saleyards.

The camping ground was relocated and other facilities demolished about the time the SECTA2000 group was planning and fundraising for the ASB Events Centre and Livingstone Aquatic Centre.

Soon after the Events Centre opening the Community Board and Council began working on a development plan for Te Awamutu, including 'The Hub' concept and forward thinking for the CBD.

Council replaced the demolished Gorst Ave public toilets with a new block on Arawata St.

Te Awamutu Alive had launched its Te Awamutu Walk of Fame and was working alongside Council for the development of the award winning amenity. Within a year of the opening by Kiingi Tuheitia Te Wananga o Aotearoa had come on board and designed, had built and installed the waharoa at the walkway entrance.

A new community committee then formed to progress the concept of a new children's playground which had been identified through 'The Hub' project but not funded by Council.

The committee succeeded in raising the funds and designing Pioneer Park Playground.

Te Awamutu Community Public relations Organisation, the governance body of Te Awamutu i-Site, pitched in with fundraised money to provide a community barbecue, furniture and shelter at the playground.

The next new major facility to be built was Te Awamutu Library and Community Room — a council project also identified through The Hub project.

Most recently Davies Food owners Paul and Donna Davies funded a new facility to enhance the precinct — Pop 'n' Good Bike Park.

Council also took the opportunity to further enhance Pioneer Park Playground with new interactive equipment and an under-5s play area.

The next vital step in the development of The Hub is Te Ara Wai — the discovery centre that will replace Te Awamutu Museum with a vibrant and interactive facility to tell the important stories of Te Awamutu and Waipa.

The public is invited to The Hub this Sunday to celebrate half-a-century of the Rose Gardens — the birth of the precinct and to enjoy all the amenities.

Te Awamutu Rose Gardens instigator, the late Ray Hyams, pictured in 2008 enjoying Western Sun, one of the first plantings from 1969 that was voted most popular by the public for about five years.
Te Awamutu Rose Gardens instigator, the late Ray Hyams, pictured in 2008 enjoying Western Sun, one of the first plantings from 1969 that was voted most popular by the public for about five years.

Families can enjoy the playground and bike park, bring a picnic to enjoy in one of the many parks — remembering they are in Te Awamutu's Liquor Ban Zone.

The Livingstone Aquatic Centre is open from 8am-6pm and has a 25 metre pool, hydroslide, hydrotherapy pool, learners pool, toddler's pool, spa, sauna and an inflatable obstacle course.

There are public toilet facilities behind the i-Site Centre and outside the Aquatic Centre.

At 11am Te Awamutu and District Highland Pipe Band will play in the Rose Gardens and at 3pm Te Awamutu Brass will play at the same venue.

Bring chairs or rugs and enjoy the free concerts — donations would also be appreciated by the groups.

During the day Te Awamutu i-Site will be open.

They also sell cold drinks and frozen confectionary.

In the Burchell Pavilion there will be an art exhibition, a combination of original work, limited edition prints and other merchandise available to purchase.

These works are by artists Gerlinde Weinzettl (contemporary ceramics), Lee Samuel (acrylic abstract figurative), Teresa Siemonek (acrylic on canvas, dye on watercolour paper), Rebecca Dowman-Ngapo (watercolour) and Toni Kingstone (acrylic and resin abstract and landscapes).

Weather depending, artists will also be working in the park — look out for the gazebo.