Passionate community feedback has shaped a new management plan for Hamilton Gardens, which was today (8 December) adopted by Hamilton City Council.
Council’s adoption of the plan follows two rounds of community engagement on the draft plan – in 2019 and earlier this year.
The proposed direction for developing the Gardens was overwhelmingly supported by the community. The plan allows for 12 new themed gardens in the future in addition to four gardens currently under development. It also retains the popular Rhododendron Lawn after Council took on board community dismay at the potential loss of the lawn.
“The process hit a bump in the road and we all had to step back and reflect on the strong public sentiment. But we’re back on track now and that is fantastic,” Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said.
“In terms of the Gardens, our next challenge will be during our Long Term Plan discussions. That’s when we’ll be determining what level of financial support we can keep putting into the Gardens in the future.”
Hamilton Gardens tells the story of gardens over the span of human history. In addition to the Pasifika, Ancient Egyptian, Medieval and Baroque gardens currently under development, proposed future gardens will showcase planting from the Victorian, Dutch Renaissance and Ancient Roman periods.
The plan connects the two gates to help relieve congestion and will improve access for all modes of transport. More cycleways and pathways will encourage people to leave their cars at home.
Other changes in the plan include an increase in native planting. The Gardens will also create a plan to identify, preserve and protect significant trees across the site.
A new road will run between the gates past the ageing glasshouses, which will close to the public from Monday 14 December. Where possible, plants in the glasshouses will be rehomed within the Gardens.
The adopted management plan also includes more emphasis on accessible paths and disabled parking, provision for a possible pedestrian bridge across the Waikato River and designated parking for alternative modes of transport like bikes.
A treetop walk from the upper carparks down to the Gardens main entrance is proposed and the Gardens will use technology to enhance visitors’ experience and to help with navigation.
Visitor Destinations Manager Lee-Ann Jordan said the land on which Hamilton Gardens had been developed was significant to local Maaori and it was important Council’s iwi partners were involved in the site’s future development.
“The Gardens will increasingly turn towards the Waikato River so we will want to work with mana whenua on what that looks like in practice and on ensuring traditional access points to the awa are preserved.
“It’s great to have the future vision for the Gardens approved: it is a fitting tribute to the creative genius of Dr Peter Sergel,” Ms Jordan said.
“Hamilton Gardens is a very special place, well-loved and well-used by our residents and visitors to the city, and the management plan will ensure its unique story continues for generations to come.”
Dr Sergel, the driving force behind Hamilton Gardens, retires as Director at the end of this year.