plus the History of Otahuhu
Congratulations to all of you wonderful people in Otahuhu for your beautiful & productive achievements in gardening and for caring enough to beautify your community using gardening and helping create a garden paradise in South Auckland.
Through your efforts you are taking another step closer to making that dream of creating a garden paradise here on Earth come true.
Recently I had the honour of being one of the judges for the Otahuhu Garden Competition. I commend you all for your valiant efforts and wish you all every success in the future.
Here are pictures and names of the Honoured Winners
Otahuhu Garden Competition 2012
Here are pictures and names of the Honoured Winners
Otahuhu Garden Competition 2012
Sincere Congratulations to every one of you, well done!
The History of Otahuhu
Otahuhu (pronounced: Oat-a-who'-who or O-ta'-who-who) is a thriving suburb of South Auckland located 13km/8.1miles southeast of the Auckland City Centre. The township is located on a narrow isthmus between Manukau Harbour on the west side and the Tamaki River Estuary to its east leading to the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf.
A cluster of volcanic craters and associated lava flows have created a natural dam upon which the Otahuhu has been built. This separates the waters of the Manukau Harbour from those of the Waitemata Harbour. Due to its unique location, tides rise about three hours earlier on the eastern river shoreline of the Waitemata than they do on the Manukau Harbour side.
The Otahuhu Isthmus is the narrowest connection between the North Auckland Peninsula and the remainder of the North Island. At its narrowest point the land between Otahuhu Creek and Mangere Inlet is only 1200 meters/3937ft/.75miles across. Otahuhu’s name comes from the Maori name for the predominant volcanic cone there, Mt. Richmond. This strategic volcanic mountain is named in honour of the Maori Chief of the regional tribe who lived there, Tahuhu, whose tribe oversaw the important surrounding region. They called their mountain volcano O’ Tahuhu; so the townships name today literally means ‘of (and owned by) Tahuhu’ = Otahuhu.
The other smaller volcanic cone, known as Otaahuhu or Mt. Robertson, lies just a short distance southwest of the Otahuhu business district. Today it is almost unrecognisable as it has been nearly levelled and terraced to create a baseball amphitheatre and sports fields, now known as Sturges Park. In this spelling of Otaahuhu, Ota=eating fresh or raw, a= in that direction or place, huhu= the delicacy of Huhu grubs. And since the entire word contains the Chief’s name of Tahuhu, it suggests that this was a special volcanic cone owned by Chief Tahuhu where the delicacy of Huhu grubs could be found.
Strategically important O’Tahuhu Mountain is situated to the north of the Otahuhu business district. Today it is a somewhat overgrown but dramatic volcanic cone and associated lava flows with several more craters nestled to its east: known as Mt. Richmond and the McLennan Hills. It is the home of Bert Henham Park with McManus Park on its southern boundary. Six sports and recreation Clubs use this land which includes several different playing fields, bowling greens and club rooms.
Lesser known are the remnant trails leading upward on Mt. Richmond (O’Tahuhu). Here are revealed the remains of what was once a lovely arboretum and park that covered the slopes and higher ground on the main volcanic cone and vents. Many massive and unusual specimen trees remain on the volcanic slopes as living legends to a much more caring and prosperous time. But over-growth and scrub now hide much of the high grassy knolls featuring spectacular views that in a by-gone era were a favourite gathering place for community and family outings, holiday picnickers and special events. Because of its geographical significance plus ancient cultural and historical heritage, one day a more devout leadership will surely reclaim and transform the Mt. Richmond Domain into a culturally significant City/Regional Park.
In a much earlier era, Mt. Richmond (O’Tahuhu) was a very important volcanic peak that gave Chief Tahuhu great authority. O’ Tahuhu Mountain to the north and the lesser Otaahuhu Hill to the south were strategic peaks that overlooked the narrowest part of the Otahuhu Isthmus linking the Manukau and Waitemata Harbours. This was the preferred place for Maori travellers to drag their canoes, across the low and sometimes swampy ground and shallow creeks when attempting to cross most quickly from coast to coast. Canoes from the Tasman Sea and western Manukau Harbour often entered via Mangere Inlet and then crossed to Otahuhu Creek flowing into the Tamaki River leading to the eastern Waitemata Harbour, Hauraki Gulf, East Coast and South Pacific Ocean. Chief Tahuhu and his Tribe controlled this strategic passage and from these volcanic peaks could view whoever crossed between them.
Once not so long ago when New Zealand’ s population was inspired to ‘think big’ there were dreams of creating a canal in this very area meant to connect the eastern Waitemata/Hauraki Gulf and Pacific Ocean to the western Manukau Harbour, Tasman Sea and beyond. Such a canal would prove considerably profitable and time-efficient for international commerce between nations to the East, West and North of New Zealand plus for transporting goods especially from overseas throughout New Zealand. In addition the strong difference in tidal flow produced from each harbour could be channelled to produce significant tidal hydroelectric power. The economic benefits of such a canal would be incredible both locally, regionally and nationally and surely will happen once a more insightful leadership once again uplifts the nation.
This unique geographical and geological position of the Otahuhu Isthmus bordered by shallow, warm waters, bathes the land in mild and often steamy subtropical air. This substantially alters its climate from the nearby suburbs further south. Thus it is often considered that Otahuhu is the true “Beginning of the Subtropics”. While selected (sub) tropical species grow much further south in many protected and sheltered locations, it is at the Otahuhu ‘hill’ southern boundary lava flow just north of Mangere East and northward throughout the Otahuhu Isthmus that severe frosts are seldom experienced due to the warming influence of the surrounding waters. This unique geographical location allows Otahuhu Gardeners the opportunity for year-round gardening including a wide range of temperate zone as well as subtropical species that mix quite nicely in their garden landscapes.
Historically the first modern settlements occurred around 1847. This was a fencible settlement mostly for defence and housing for many soldiers and also pensioners. Almost everyone once had a garden, orchard and/or vineyard in Otahuhu. In this ‘do-it-yourself’ young nation, survival required that almost everyone had to be a self-sufficient ‘pioneer’ and growing your own food was essential. So living in such a benevolent, productive and prosperous gardening climate as Otahuhu rather required the mastery of gardening. Market gardens were common and highly successful on the rich ground and many homeowners from smaller sections up to substantial properties produced whatever grew best on their land and often bartered, sold or traded what they grew for the other things they needed.
Today, Otahuhu is a most colourful, diverse, multi-cultural, thriving township. Links with the past are dissolving beneath the blossoming urban jungle. Gardening sometimes takes a back seat to a hectic city lifestyle. But Otahuhu streets are still beautified with avenues of Palms and well-maintained floral plantings. The historic volcanic mountain, O’Tahuhu and a few treasured historical bungalows and buildings survive. One of those is the oldest church in Otahuhu, quaint St. Andrews Presbyterian Church where my Grand Father, Rev. Herbert B. Hughes and his wife, Ruby Lascelles, spent their last cherished years in his ministry before retiring to their gardens and orchard down the hill in Mangere East where the Quarter Acre Paradise Gardens are today. This gives me a special affection for ‘old’ Otahuhu.
And occasionally one will stumble across a treasured ‘Kiwiana’ garden, tucked away amongst the bungalows on a back street that reflects the charm of yesteryear. These treasures still shine through today as a tribute to all the wonderful Gardeners who help make Otahuhu such a lovely community. Several of those gardens and their clever Gardeners were winners in this year’s Otahuhu Garden Competition organized by the Otahuhu Garden Club.
The Otahuhu Garden Club is a most charming and informal group of dedicated and passionate Gardeners, garden and nature enthusiasts and devoted partners. Collectively, they created and supported The Otahuhu Garden Competition that this year received nearly 40 entrants. Everyone received a certificate and commendation for their gardening achievements and the top winners all received a variety of prizes provided by area sponsorship. The collective efforts of the Otahuhu Garden Club members have provided a valuable boost to the profile of Otahuhu and deserve greatest congratulations for their efforts.
Congratulations to each and every one of you who participated. Special thanks to Event Organizer Suzanne Cadman and Sheryl Matthews who also helped with certificates and printing. Thanks to all those people who volunteered to serve on the Committee; helped in the kitchen with afternoon tea; helped setting up/breaking down the event, your help is greatly appreciated. Many thanks for the assistance, great prizes and sponsorship from: ACC, Bunnings, Cadbury Chocolates, Central Landscape Supplies, High Street Units, Palmers, the Sign Writers and Zealandia Nurseries. Great appreciation goes to Lil and the other talented volunteers who judged the gardens. And special thanks go to all the creative and talented Gardeners whose dedicated and tireless efforts created all the wonderful gardens to be judged and shared with the broader community. Through your dedication and devoted efforts, you all are making your lives, your community and our world a much better place to live.
I consider you all to be Heroes of the Planet!
In these changing and challenging times when ‘climate change’ and ‘environmental crisis’ are so frequent headlines and the world is searching for environmental solutions to improve and sustain our world, there is nothing ‘greener’ that one could do to contributed toward a brighter, more prosperous and sustainable future than gardening.
Just imagine if all 7+ billion people on Earth cared enough to learn how to garden as well as the Gardener winners in Otahuhu. Surely we would all live in a much more bountiful, community-spirited, peaceful, prosperous garden paradise right here on Earth.