New Zealand's native orchids 'beautiful, charming'

KNOWS HER STUFF: American orchid expert Jean Stefanik spoke at the Taranaki Orchid Society Summer Show held in the Highlands Intermediate hall.
KNOWS HER STUFF: American orchid expert Jean Stefanik spoke at the Taranaki Orchid Society Summer Show held in the Highlands Intermediate hall.

American orchid expert Jean Stefanik spent the last three months travelling New Zealand looking at native New Zealand orchids.

New Zealand's native orchids are not showy, but are beautiful and charming, she said.

Several can be found growing in trees in Pukekura Park.

From New Hampshire, Ms Stefanik came to Taranaki in November to speak at the New Zealand National Orchid Expo.

Since then she has been giving talks about orchids everywhere from the Bay of Islands to Dunedin. "Here I spoke about North American native orchids and now I'll go back to the US and speak about New Zealand native orchids."

Her last talk was at the annual Taranaki Orchid Society Summer Show at Highlands Intermediate in the weekend.

She grows orchids, is an American Orchid Society judge and is a specialist in native orchids.

Taranaki's orchid show was a "very nice local show".

That nine awards were given was very high for a show this size, she said. Normally there would be only one or two.

George Fuller's Sobralia Mirabillis was world class, she said.

There were about 50 participants in this year's show, down on last year because of the expo in November, committee member Joy Wray said.

"The majority of people who come to this are from outside Taranaki, because it is the only place where we have specialist group meetings."

But Taranaki people still won prizes, including Inglewood's Ngaire Aitken who took out first place for her Phalaenopsis orchid.

Mrs Aitken sews from home and has about 30 orchids in her sewing room, the warmest room in the house, she said. "So it's work and pleasure all in one."

Mrs Aitken had been growing orchids for about eight years, ever since her daughter gave her one for Mothers' Day.

Taranaki Daily News