Walk in the park leads to ‘Tulips for Foxton’ project

Planting Tulips in Foxton

Horowhenua District Council and Parkinson’s NZ are eagerly awaiting October in Te Awahou Foxton when more than 2,400 tulips – the international symbol for Parkinson’s – will wave in the breeze that moves the arms on the town’s windmill and wafts across the nearby Te Awahou Riverside Cultural Park.

In a July planting ceremony, Council staff, Parkinson’s representatives from Kāpiti-Horowhenua and Council contractors Recreational Services, planted the tulip bulbs in beds prepared on the cultural park behind Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom.

One bed was planted in a tulip shaped plot and the second a flag-shaped plot which was planted in bulbs that will flower in the colours of the Netherlands – a nod to the country’s connection with tulips.

The project will contribute to Horowhenua District Council retaining it’s prestigious “green flag” accreditation for the cultural park, one of five awarded to the Council this year.

Green Flag Awards originated in Britain but are now awarded internationally for well-managed parks and green spaces that meet community needs.

“The tulip beds in the Cultural Park are an excellent example of how collaboration with a community group has added an extra dimension to one of our green spaces,” says Horowhenua District Council’s Parks and Property Lead (North) Sean Hester.

“We’re very pleased with the way the cultural park has been developing and proud to see the green flag flying over it. There are a number of criteria we need to meet to retain the accreditation, including how we develop this park space with the community. This project fits perfectly with our goals in this space.”

But it was another Green-Flag recognised site, Levin’s Thompson House Gardens that triggered the project.

Parkinson’s Kāpiti-Horowhenua Action Group Chairman, Kevin Ramshaw says one of the group members saw a display of tulips in the gardens in October of last year.

“Sue Belworthy lives with Parkinson’s,” he says. “Walking in the gardens she was greatly taken with the brave show the tulips made and she asked the Council staff if the link with Parkinson’s could be recognised in some way.”

“Sean Hester came back to us with the Foxton proposal – and six months later, there we were on our hands and knees pushing bulbs into prepared plots in the River Loop Reserve. We are grateful to the Council for taking up the project. From our point of view, it is a great way of raising awareness of Parkinson’s – which is the world’s fastest growing neurological disease.”

Horowhenua District Council was this year awarded five green flags – second only in New Zealand to Auckland City for the number of flags awarded.

Kevin Ramshaw has thanked Council for agreeing to donate the tulips bulbs to Parkinson’s for fundraising purposes after they have bloomed.

New bulbs will be planted in July of next year.