Maggie Barry cans original gardening scheme at Wellington's Pukeahu National War Memorial Park

Pukeahu National War Memorial above Arras Tunnel in Wellington.
Ashten Macdonald/Fairfax NZ

Pukeahu National War Memorial above Arras Tunnel in Wellington.

Gardening-guru turned government minister Maggie Barry has dug her spade into a Wellington landscaping contract.

Despite being the brains behind the Pukeahu War Memorial Park, landscape designer company Wraight Athfield Landscape + Architecture has been overlooked for the latest section of the park's garden in favour of another design company.

Wraight Athfield, an amalgamation of landscape architect Megan Wraight and Athfield Architects, won a competition held by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage to design the War Memorial Park seven years ago.

National Party and North Shore MP Maggie Barry reportedly did not like the final plans for the Pukeahu garden, and hired ...

National Party and North Shore MP Maggie Barry reportedly did not like the final plans for the Pukeahu garden, and hired a new designer.

The award-winning company was also the architect of Waitangi Park.

But sources from the Memorial Park Alliance said Barry  appeared to have found her own gardening consultant, after being shown the plan for the final piece of garden.

Employees from the company were reported to be "heartbroken" by the decision after having worked on the park for the last seven years.

Company partner John Hardwick Smith said he understood the Ministry of Culture and Heritage were considering other options for completion of the park.

"It's a bit hard for us to comment, we've been involved for a long time and they may well be looking at other options.

"From our point of view we would value the opportunity to continue with it if that opportunity arises."

Before she was a politician, Barry graced our television screens for more than a decade as host of Maggie's Garden Show.

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In a statement on Friday the now-minister for arts, culture and heritage,  said the planting was simply being 'fine-tuned'.

"Pukeahu is not being redesigned.

"It was always anticipated that there would be a re-examination of landscaping at Pukeahu once Stage 1 of the Park was completed prior to Anzac Day 2015, in particular the uncompleted north-west corner of the Park."

A contractors' prefab in this corner had recently been demolished, leaving a large empty plot of land to be landscaped.

Barry praised the original designers and said the Ministry was making sure the garden worked all year round.

"The design of Pukeahu National War Memorial Park is excellent and has been an outstanding success. I acknowledge the very good work of Wraight and Athfield architects.

"We are fine tuning the planting to ensure Pukeahu has something to offer visitors 365 days of the year."

She said the new garden planned for Pukeahu would be one designed to attract native birds to the central city.

"The Department of Conservation is giving advice on encouraging a dawn chorus of our songbirds to make the park their home and accompany the ANZAC Day Dawn Service."

"This area will be grassed off with a retaining wall, in time for this year's Anzac Day commemorations. The area will be further developed with the construction of the French War Memorial which is currently in the planning stages."

The Ministry said the contract did not need to go to a public marketplace.

"This is a small contract costing no more than $15,000 and does not require tendering."

 - Stuff


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