Back­track on zoo gar­den

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

AUCK­LAND Zoo’s de­mol­ished Ja­panese friend­ship gar­den could end up be­ing re­built on its orig­i­nal site.

Auck­land formed a sis­ter city re­la­tion­ship with Fukuoka in 1986. The gar­den was a gift from the Ja­panese city to cel­e­brate that bond.

It was re­moved in Jan­uary to make way for a new Tas­ma­nian devil de­vel­op­ment at the zoo, de­spite op­po­si­tion from mem­bers of Auck­land’s Ja­panese com­mu­nity and other res­i­dents.

The zoo’s for­mer head gar­dener Stephanie Hay started cam­paign­ing to save it in Oc­to­ber and the Friends of Fukuoka Friend­ship Gar­den group was formed.

Ms Hay la­belled the re­moval a ‘‘huge in­sult to Ja­pan.’’

Though Auck­land Coun­cil con­sulted with Fukuoka City and was given the go-ahead, Mayor Len Brown later said pub­licly that the gar­den should not have been de­stroyed.

He has for­mally apol­o­gised to Fukuoka city.

On Tues­day the Auck­land Coun­cil’s Sports, Parks and Re­cre­ation Com­mit­tee ap­pointed a steer­ing com­mit­tee that will de­cide on a lo­ca­tion to re-es­tab­lish the gar­den, by Au­gust.

Its rec­om­men­da­tion is that it should be re­built at the zoo, if pos­si­ble. Work on the Tas­ma­nian devil de­vel­op­ment is yet to start.

Friends of Fukuoka Friend­ship Gar­den mem­bers are pleased with the rec­om­men­da­tion.

‘‘It’s an ex­pec­ta­tion by Fukuoka and the Ja­panese com­mu­nity in New Zealand that the 30th an­niver­sary of the sis­ter city re­la­tion­ship, in 2016, will be cel­e­brated with the open­ing of a re­in­stated gar­den,’’ group mem­ber Ian Hen­der­son says.

‘‘Putting it back on the site would reaf­firm that re­la­tion­ship.’’

It’s also likely to be the most cost-ef­fec­tive op­tion given that some of the orig­i­nal fea­tures of the gar­den are still in place, Mr Hen­der­son says.

Friend­ship gar­den: The zoo’s Ja­panese gar­den, a gift from Fukuoka City, be­fore it was dis­man­tled.

Flash­back: The front page of the Cen­tral Leader, De­cem­ber 13.

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