A new naming partner, return of the landscape design project, five new gardens and a whirlwind of events – all these can be found in the Centuria Taranaki Garden Festival programme released on July 14.
The annual festival, presented by TAFT, is on from October 28 to November 6 this year. It includes 43 gardens and is a collaboration with the Taranaki Arts Trail, featuring 79 artists, and the Taranaki Sustainable Backyards Trail, starring 30 properties. Both trails will be running alongside the 10-day garden celebration.
Festival manager Tetsu Garnett says having Centuria as a naming sponsor is a huge boost for the event, which this year includes a larger-than-usual number of events.
These are also supported by core funders Ventura Taranaki, New Plymouth District Council, Toi Foundation and South Taranaki District Council.
Tetsu says the Festival Hub will again pop up in the W.R. Phillips Volkswagen Taranaki showroom on Devon St West. It’s a space where visitors can relax, have a coffee, buy tickets, festival tote bags and T-shirts and talk to in-the-know volunteers about their garden itinerary.
“We are so fortunate to have W.R. Phillips Volkswagen Taranaki as a Gold Sponsor. They are so generous with their support, especially providing a home for the Hub and supplying us with a beautiful flower-embellished and sign-written Volkswagen T-Roc in the lead-up to and duration of the festival.”
During the event, award-winning food writer and chef Nicola Galloway will present The Homemade Kitchen, and the Mitre 10 Speaker Series returns, covering everything from food forests to hanging baskets, history to healthy soil.
There will also be botanical art classes, an audio-described garden tour for people with low vision, a degustation dinner, a plant-based platter demonstration and tours led by well-known garden folk, including Alan Jellyman, Glyn Church, Jo Collins and NZ Gardener editor Jo McCarroll.
“I’m really excited that the Japanese Tea House will be open and offering traditional tea ceremonies by the tea master, twice a day, only during the festival,” Tetsu says.
She’s also delighted garden and interior designer Michael Mansvelt will be creating a landscape design project called Return to Paradise in the Huatoki Plaza, New Plymouth.
“This is something free for the community and it’s open from the start of the festival right to the end,” she says.
There will be seating so people can relax in the installation, which follows on from Michael’s hugely popular project, Paradise Lost, which adorned a part of Pukekura Park in 2016.
The new gardens in the 35th festival are Glascroft in Patea, The Galleys Garden at Lepperton, 49 Rata in Hawera and Saxton Sanctuary in New Plymouth, while Frog Lodge, unable to open last year, will be in this time.
“The festival is always changing, with some gardens taking a rest and new ones coming in,” Tetsu says.
TAFT CEO Suzanne Porter says the festival and gardeners are always looking at ways to refresh the event.
A big change happened in 2020, when the garden festival first collaborated with the Taranaki Arts Trail, while continuing to partner with the Taranaki Sustainable Backyards Trail.
Suzanne says the garden festival has a long history in Taranaki, even prior to TAFT taking it over in 2003.
“We have seen incremental growth in what is a fantastic product… we used to call it the baby festival – it’s certainly not now.”
The festival attracts many “lovely visitors” from out of the region at a time of the year that’s not too busy. It boosts the hospitality industry after the lows of winter and generates GDP from $2.6m (in 2019) to $4.2million (2020) and $3.1m (2021).
The event, set in the maunga-to-moana landscape of Taranaki, is a festival everyone in the region can be proud of.
“You cannot see a garden festival like this anywhere else in the world. It’s a beautiful event to work with,” Suzanne says.
Vance Hooper from Magnolia Grove at Waitara thinks it’s a beautiful event to be in too.
“It’s about sharing experiences and meeting different people from different places.”
He and wife Kathryn first opened for the festival in 2009, giving people a chance to see a diverse garden planted with everything from woodland to cacti and, of course, showcasing magnolias.
“We do get some interesting visitors and it’s amazing who pops up out of the woodwork,” Vance says. “You could do a masters degree in psychology watching people go through the garden and what they want to look at. You see the whole of society.”
Taranaki Sustainable Backyards Trail manager Brittany Ryan says the theme for the trail’s 7th year is celebrating community. “We are looking at ways to share knowledge and bring people together.”
During this year’s trail there will be nearly 100 workshops, tours and events. “It’s sharing knowledge and local knowledge too.”
Brittany says the sustainable backyards event is a fine fit with the Centuria Taranaki Garden Festival and a great way to reach new audiences.
“If they are coming to the garden festival, then they may also be interested in a worm farming, preserving or composting workshop offered by a backyards trail host.”
Taranaki Arts Trail co-ordinator Niki Jenkinson says this is the third year the trail has collaborated with the garden festival and sustainable backyards – and it’s working.
“We are getting more visitors now we are a collaboration. The visitors are saying all three together is a big enticement to come to Taranaki.
“I believe the beauty that nature brings us meets the aesthetics of the skilled art form.”
She says gardens are art and the gardeners spend all year working on their natural creation and artists in studios spend their time working with paint, clay, wood, bone, fibre and more.
For people wanting to plan their arts trail journey, there are four free exhibitions leading up to the event at Gover St Gallery and Plymouth International, both in New Plymouth, Percy Thomson Gallery in Stratford and Lysaght Watt Gallery in Hawera. There will also be an exchange between the Taranaki Arts Trail and Art Trail Manawatū, involving two artists each.
The relationship with new naming partner Centuria (formerly known as Augusta Capital) is also about an exchange; one based on mutual admiration.
“We are proud to be aligned with the festival because it’s such an iconic national event,” says Taranaki man Bryce Barnett, a director of Centuria, which is a property funds manager with thousands of investors all over New Zealand.
“The festival is something that’s appreciated by a lot of people throughout New Zealand, but it’s not a one-time come and visit – there are so many gardens it’s almost impossible to get around them in one visit,” he says.
There are also new gardens every year, while others are refreshed. “Gardening is a moving, living form of art.”
Bryce and wife Delwyn have opened their garden, Te Kukumara, six times for the festival and they plan to enter it again in 2023.
Kelvin Wright, Te Puna Umanga/Venture Taranaki Chief Executive, says the regional development agency is focused on building a prosperous and resilient future for Taranaki.
“Major events, such as the Centuria Taranaki Garden Festival, attract thousands of visitors to Taranaki, who stay in accommodation, dine out, shop, and visit other attractions right around the maunga. These visitors and the event add vibrancy to our region and stimulate the regional economy over the 10-day festival period,” Kelvin says.
Vicki Fairley, Venture Taranaki GM of People and Places says regional successes are down to “our collaborative spirit and team Taranaki attitude”.
Combining the sustainable backyard trail, art trails, and garden festival is one example of this.
“The collaboration widens the market appeal and gives visitors and locals a diverse and jam-packed event offering while showcasing and celebrating the immense creative talent throughout the region,” she says.
“The addition of the backyard trail also leverages the increasing interest in living sustainably… aligning with the region’s shared vision for a high value, low-emissions economy built on inclusivity and sustainability.”
Venture Taranaki is proud to be supporting the garden festival again in 2022.
For further media enquiries or future editorial opportunities please contact Festival Manager Tetsu Garnett, phone (06) 759 8412 Mobile 021 421 740, firstname.lastname@example.org
Released on behalf of TAFT by Festival Publicist Virginia Winder, mobile 0276 423 294, or email: email@example.com