Korean immigrants plan community garden

HOPING TO PAY TRIBUTE: Ben Lee, executive director of the Korean Garden Trust.
HOPING TO PAY TRIBUTE: Ben Lee, executive director of the Korean Garden Trust.

Korean immigrants wanting to give back to the North Shore community hope to begin work on a traditional garden in Takapuna in a few months.

Ben Lee, executive director of the Korean Garden Trust, said the group had submitted a second proposal to Auckland Council after being asked for more information.

It will then apply for a licence to occupy a 1.5 hectare patch of Barrys Point Reserve land.

Two pavilions, a pond, bridge, sculpture park and an open-air theatre for 700 people would be built for the garden which was approved by the former North Shore City Council.

Lee, who moved to New Zealand from Seoul, South Korea, in 1994, began a volunteer group which tended to weeds and cleaned the reserve.

''Over that time I feel we have had many benefits and favours from this community so I decided to return something back,'' he said.

The garden, to represent Korean culture and history, would be divided into three phases of construction with the road entry and New Zealand Korean Veterans Association park to be completed in the first phase.

If the licence to occupy was granted this year construction would begin as soon as possible, with stage two beginning in three years before completion in 2019.

''It will be an intercultural co-operation between New Zealand local community and the Korean community,'' Lee said.

Plans to ship a rock from South Korea for the veterans section was going to cost too much but a large rock from Great Barrier Island has been donated by a war veteran.

''They sacrificed their youth and life for Korea 60 years ago, so we will construct that garden,'' he said.

North Shore Times