Greens could make way for Chinese garden

The Chinese garden proposal merits very serious consideration Peter Haynes Albert-Eden Local Board chairman

CHAMBERLAIN PARK: A golfer makes the most of the public course at Chamberlain Park.
Julian Raethel

CHAMBERLAIN PARK: A golfer makes the most of the public course at Chamberlain Park.

A long-awaited Chinese garden could be on the cards as part of plans for Auckland's inner city golf course Chamberlain Park.

Auckland's Chinese garden committee feels "a lot more positive" that the project may finally go ahead in a corner of what is now the publicly owned 18-hole course after five years' work and being rejected for numerous other sites.

It has made a submission to the local board proposing an $8 million to $12m garden, performing arts centre and Chinese history museum.

There would be no cost to Auckland other than the contribution of about 8000 square metres of land, committee co-chairman Kai Luey said.

The Albert-Eden Local Board has just completed a public consultation process on what to do with the 32.3-hectare park next to the northwestern motorway.

Albert-Eden has the lowest proportion of sports fields of any area in the city, and there is strong logic for widening the use of Chamberlain Park other than just golf, board chairman Peter Haynes said.

The board supports a Chinese garden being one of those uses.

"The Chinese garden proposal merits very serious consideration," he said. "Obviously a gift of that order can't be easily ignored, in my view anyway."

Council officials are collating the results of the public consultation, but early indications show there is a lot of support for alternative uses of the park, Haynes said.

But there has been vocal opposition from golfers who don't want to lose the public course.

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The Chinese community wants to be able to give something back, Luey said.

"The whole idea is just to have symbolism that the Chinese appreciate the opportunity to come to a new land and settle here.

"Also we think we've got a history to tell, to show people what we've been through and hopefully improve in the future."

It is not anticipated there would be a charge to visit, as there is at Dunedin's Chinese garden, Luey said.

The performing arts centre would be a multi-purpose facility which could be used by the whole community.

The committee needs some concrete plans before it can go out and seriously fundraise.

"We have had great expressions of interest of support from China, and I think most of the funding will come from mainland China," Luey said.

"I think the whole concept will be readily accepted by a lot of people."

Architect and committee co-chairman Ron Sang said members have drawn up preliminary designs for three other sites.

Haynes said based on the public feedback the board will decide at its April meeting whether to go ahead with work on a master planning project for Chamberlain Park.

A Chinese garden will be a fantastic asset and a destination feature of the area, but there are still pockets of "wilful ignorance" in the community about the merits of such a project, he said.


 - Auckland City Harbour News

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