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Become a Friend of Hamilton Gardens and be a part of these treasured gardens and their unique concept.

About us

Now in its 30th year, the Friends of Hamilton Gardens organisation was formed in 1989 to support the growth of the Gardens and to provide a key focus for community involvement with the Gardens.

With the first stage of a new development plan underway (2018 – 2022), we continue to play a key role in raising awareness, use and enjoyment of the Gardens, and in assisting Hamilton City Council by raising funds for on-going garden developments.

We have committed to raise an ambitious $420,000 over the next three to four years for features in the upcoming Ancient Egyptian, Medieval and Pasifika gardens. 

Friends of Hamilton Gardens is a New Zealand registered charity, registered number CC23690.

Become a Friend

Become a Friend of Hamilton Gardens

As a Friend of Hamilton Gardens, you're part of a like-minded community making a valuable contribution towards creating a world-class garden experience. All members receive our annual journal and regular newsletters to stay in the loop with the latest news from Hamilton Gardens.

As well as discounts at local retailers, you'll also be included in invitations to exclusive opening events and behind-the-scenes tours of gardens under development.

Our events

We have lots of activities throughout the year. These include:

  • Matariki celebrations
  • Scarecrow Festival
  • Mansfield Garden Party
  • Regular plant sales
  • Guest lectures 
  • Garden Club
  • Social Club

Visit the Hamilton Gardens Events page for more details or take a look at the events listed Hamilton Gardens Facebook page.

Volunteer at the Gardens

Becoming a Friend may simply mean that you are happy for your subscription to give our funds a boost, knowing you are contributing to Hamilton’s jewel in its crown.

However if you enjoy interacting with a wide range of people and completing a range of retail tasks you may like to join the team of volunteers who staff the Visitor Centre at Hamilton Gardens. Full and ongoing training is provided. An application form can be downloaded here: Hamilton Gardens Visitor Centre volunteer staff application form [PDF file] 

Also, volunteers are always needed to help out at events or at weekly propagating days. Ask a committee member for more information!

Make a donation

Your donation - be it big or small - goes directly to Hamilton Gardens’ developments, ensuring the gardens continue to bring joy and prosperity to the Hamilton community.

If you would like more information about donations, donations ‘in memory of’ or bequests please contact Virginia Graham or Marleina Ruka.

Contact the Friends

  • President – Marleina Ruka  021 294 9601
  • Plant and Propagating Group -  Marleina Ruka  021 294 9601
  • Garden Club -  Judy Holdsworth  07 855 4786
  • Social Club -  Susan Coubrough 022 186 2399

2019 Annual Report

Download: President's annual report 2019 [PDF file]

Download: Financial report 2018-2019 [PDF file]

The other side of the story – correcting misinformation

The Friends are strong supporters of the long-term plan for Hamilton Gardens and we’re concerned that misinformation has been circulated about what has been proposed:

"The white gum on the Rhododendron Lawn is going to be cut down"

There has never been a proposal to remove that gum tree.  Arborists may disagree how long it will live but that’s immaterial because it stays as long as it’s safe.  Six more Ghost Gums have been planted on the new Governor’s Green that will eventually grow to look like that one.  The rhododendron gardens around the Rhododendron Lawn are not being removed and will be largely unaffected.

"There’s reduction in green space with lawn being replaced with asphalt"

The plan proposes no decrease in valuable green space, just the relocation of a carpark so that the site functions more efficiently and more gardens can be developed.  The existing Turtle Lake Carpark will be replaced with new gardens.  Over the whole site you can basically say that rough grass is being replaced with 4.8 hectares of native bush and about 4.0 hectares of new gardens (including the Bee Meadow).  The grass on the hill will be grazed with sheep rather than being mown.

"This is the wrong thing to do in the light of climate change"

Hamilton Gardens is actually taking a leading position on climate change with the aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.  The Gardens carbon footprint is being externally audited at the time of writing and staff are pretty committed to that carbon neutral goal within 3 years.  At present the main carbon emitter on site are the compost heaps and the gas ovens in the café and the challenge will be to offset those.  There’s also going to be more emphasis on getting people to visit the gardens by walking, cycling or by taking the bus.  The plan proposes new cycleways through the park and improved bus access that doesn’t need to be closed off at busy times.  If promotion of these doesn’t work, more carparks might need to be added to meet demand, but the aim is to avoid this.

"Shifting the Rhododendron Lawn is unnecessary"

Over the past six years visits to the theme gardens have increased by 72%. Last year saw a 8% increase, this year it looks as if there’ll be a 9% increase and there’s no sign of this slowing down. You might say we’re victims of our own success. With Cobham Drive soon to be part of the city’s ring road, the major problems with traffic movement are only going to keep getting worse with problem peak days becoming more frequent. With tighter NZTA rules, traffic management is going to become more expensive, yet without having traffic management in place at busy times, congestion has, in the past, blocked up traffic through the south end of the city for hours. There may be more occasions when there’s a requirement to close off both vehicle entrances to avoid chaos and gridlock. We appreciate some people just don’t like change but ignoring the parking and access problems simply won’t be a long term option. 

The other side to this is that, without these changes, development of new gardens will need to stop in three years’ time. Council has put aside funding for new gardens in its 10-Year Plan, but without the proposed changes, there won’t be any practical sites to put more gardens or to complete the unique ‘story of gardens’ theme.

"The alternative space isn’t suitable"

A new space called the Governors’ Green is being developed that most of those involved think will be better than the Rhododendron Lawn for a number of reasons. It will be closer to all carparks, provide more space and more shade. Further earthworks are being undertaken to reduce noise and the bank above the Green will be planted in dense bush so traffic noise will be further reduced. For concerts a new amphitheatre is being developed on the Hillside Lawn that will have similar capacity and similar low traffic noise to the Rhododendron Lawn. Over 1,000 pre-booked events held in the Gardens each year.  There are about 70 spaces within the Gardens which have been specifically designed to accommodate events of many different sizes and types.

"There must be other solutions"

Over the past few years the long term development of the Gardens and this proposal have been discussed hundreds of times with many people and for those involved and informed it just keeps coming back to the same solution. Other solutions have been proposed but they either don’t address the issues or they’re impractical. 


If you are still unsure why this is the best solution, then contact me or one of our committee and we’ll be happy to explain. A full transcript of the plan can be found at

Virginia Graham, President