In a move to augment one of the region’s most cherished assets, the Auckland Council has taken out a loan to purchase 1.6 hectares of prized land on Hill Rd, Manurewa. The $12 million acquisition, seen by the council as a necessity, will provide a significant extension to the city’s Botanic Gardens. Despite wrestling financial constraints, Mayor Wayne Brown defended the purchase, emphasizing the importance of this decision for future generations and the escalating need for open space in one of Auckland’s rapidly developing areas.
Mayor Brown also expressed deep concern over the potential for inappropriate development of the land, a threat that, if left unattended, could have resulted in the irrevocable loss of this golden opportunity. He believes this decision will enhance protection for the Gardens while assuring guaranteed access to the enriched space.
The City Council’s planning, environment, and parks committee chairman, Richard Hills, saw the purchased land as a doorway to potentially initiating themed gardens. He and his committee were backed by Friends of Auckland Botanic Gardens, a body that commended the council’s decision. The group’s president, Viv Canham, voiced that this development will elevate the garden’s value for the increasing number of annual visitors, which currently stands around one million.
Echoing her sentiment, Christine Fletcher, the council representative on the Friends’ executive committee, paid tribute to the Gardens’ founders who were known as “dreamers of the day.” She expressed delight and gratitude knowing that they could build upon the visionary legacy they have left behind
The official amount for this acquisition stood at $12.37m, inclusive of GST. While aware of the financial implications, Mayor Brown disclosed that the council did not hold reserves for open-space purposes. He defended their debt-funding decision as pragmatic, viewing it as spreading the capital investment cost across generations bound to seek solace in these lush gardens.
Richard Hills revealed exciting possibilities outlined in the Auckland Botanic Gardens Masterplan, including the development of “ethnobotanical gardens.” He described an enchanting vision of traditional Māori and Pasifika gardens being educational, ecological, and cultural hubs for visitors and progeny.
Addressing the logistical concerns, he acknowledged the impact of the Gardens’ increasing popularity on the busy Hill Rd, which presents traffic safety and management challenges. The purchased land opens up potential solutions for traffic management alterations when the budget sanctions it.
The Auckland Botanic Gardens, a beloved city landmark, sprouted its verdant existence back in 1982. Its establishment followed Auckland Regional Authority’s purchase of 42 hectares of land from the Nathan estate in 1968. In light of the most recent acquisition, a Nathan family spokesperson expressed their anticipation to see this newly procured land beautifully integrating with the existing Gardens.