Peace walk brochure - click
A feature of the Rose Garden is the
adjoining Peace Garden. This has an
interesting history, and is tied to the Japanese
Gardens that once existed within the Botanic
Garden. But the history of the Peace Garden
did not start here, and here is the story.
Japanese Garden and lantern
"the light being shone on the path of friendship and understanding"
President of the Japan Society of NZ Mr Robert Wheeler (1975)
The first modest 'Japanese' garden' was constructed on Myrtle Way, opposite the present hydrangea collection around the mid 1950's. The centre piece was a cherry tree, with some other typical Japanese plants, including some azaleas in a small garden surrounded by a circular path. At the back was a small pond created from the small stream running through the area. The cherry is long gone, but the remains of the pond can still be seen.
The Japan Society of Wellington
originally gifted a lantern to Wellington, where it
was intended to establish a Japanese Garden on a knoll
in the Wetland Garden by the Duck Pond (where a seat
now stands) in 1975. It appears no consensus was
reached regarding design aspects of the new garden,
and the project was not completed. The Japan Society
of Wellington NZ (Inc) – originally named The Japan
Society of NZ (Inc) donated the lantern, and provided
some other funds and a Japanese landscape gardener was
brought out and donations were made towards the garden
establishment. The lantern was designed and made in
The proposal by the Japan Society was
initiated in June 1968 on the initiative of a Mr
J.Malcolm. Later that year Ian
Galloway Manager of the Garden accepted the proposal
in 1968, initially for a lantern 6 foot high
standing on a 2 foot base. On receipt of the catalogue
from the Japanese supplier an order was placed for the
existing lantern, with payment made in late 1972 for
$NZ364.35 although duty charged of $180 was refunded.
As there was no immediate site for the lantern, it was initially located within the Begonia House.
On 6 March 1976 the lantern was
formally handed over to the safekeeping of the Garden
on the wetland site by the Duck Pond.
The lantern was relocated from the area near the duckpond and adapted to house the Peace Flame in 1994. Vandalism incidents in the wetland site and the ability to provide a more secure site made the move attractive. (The spike on the top of the lantern was broken in one incident, and was ground to give a lower, tidy peak). The lantern and the Peace Flame were separately gifted to the citizens of Wellington and both deserve to have their history remembered. The coming together of the two of them in their present situation seems ‘just right’.
Peace Gardens and Flame
development of the Garden of Remembrance or
first Peace Garden dates back to 1949
when the Citizens' War Memorial Committee
initiated a competition and invited registered
architects to design a plan for a garden to
honour the fallen in two world wars. The
project was made possible by public donations,
and a bequest of £1,313 ($2,626) from Miss M A
Rowland. The proposal
included a sunken garden which added to the cost.
original Peace Garden covers what is now known
as Remembrance Ridge, and even at the time that it
was being developed it was known both as the Peace
Garden and the Garden of Remembrance. The
original plan designed by the Architectural
Centre in 1949 was not used (click
to view) . Unfortunately the
winning design was too
expensive, (some £10,000 - over $650,000
in 2014 dollars) and the project lapsed
until 1958. The proposed garden ran from
just uphill from the Rudderstone Sculpture up to
where Scrub Path leaves the main drive,
encompassing the whole cleared ridge area,
an area of 2 acres - approximately .8
late 1950's the ridge above the Rose
Garden and Begonia House, now occupied by the
Garden of Remembrance, was developed. This
is part of a route linking the Cable Car to the
weather office with the Herb Garden and zig zag
down to the Rose Garden.
When the garden was finally built in 1959 it
was quite different to the original 1949
proposal, and modest in terms of cost and
elaboration. The Director at the time,
Edward Hutt, who originated the plan, made
the most of the existing resources of the
site. Gorse, broom, and the remnants of
kanuka scrub were cleared. Some of the old
pines were cut down and their stumps removed by
blasting. The old conifers dating from the days
of the Board, many of them species and varieties
of chamaecypans, were retained, and used as the
main features of the new garden. They now
ornament lawns on two levels divided by a paved
terrace backed by a wall of glazed bricks.
A path crosses the length of the upper lawn to the
terrace, and brick walling edges the Garden
along the boundary drive.
From the upper lawn a lookout gives a view over
the north western part of the city although the
view is now partially obscured by tree
growth. In 1959 and 1960 extensive plantings of
shrubs were added. Most of these
have not survived partly owing to encroaching
shade trees, but more to the difficulty of
providing the area with adequate
maintenance and water over the summer
months. The garden appears to cover the
quite extensive area of the original proposal,
but but more modest in scale.
For Hiroshima Day 1945 a
cherry tree was planted on 6 August 1969 below the Children's Playground. A plaque was
installed, but this has been lost some time ago.
The idea of a Sound
Shell (see Director Edward Hutt) in the Botanic
Garden was suggested by the Wellington Bands
Association as a memorial to bandsmen
who had died during the Two World Wars. The Bands
Association offered to finance the
construction pound for pound with the City
Corporation, with the hope that it would be
erected in time for the Royal Visit of 1949. They
also proposed a design for the building which was
rejected by the Ministry of Works. However,
the City Corporation was still interested in
constructing the Sound Shell, so reworked the
design and called for tenders in 1951. However, no
tenders were offered, despite three attempts.
Several months later two tenders were received,
but were considered too high by the City Engineer,
being £1659 in excess of his estimate. Eventually,
the Wellington City Council decided to go ahead
with the construction by using the labour of
carpenters on a cooperative basis. The cost
was not to exceed £4000, with the Bands
Association contributing £1200 and Council the
remainder. By using cooperative labour, the
Sound Shell finally cost £3245.
Designed by R.A.E. Osten and S.E. Gurney, it was opened on 5 December 1953, but with some controversy. The Wellington Bands Association hoped to participate in the opening and unveil a plaque to ‘Wellington bandsmen who lost their lives in both World Wars’. However, the Council was deemed ‘lackadaisical’ in inviting band members to the event, and as a consequence many bands were already booked and unable to play at the opening of their Memorial Sound Shell. The dispute was headline news, however the opening was still attended by a good-sized crowd. It was used during the Royal Visit of early 1954. Its popularity continued with an open-air dance which attracted 8000 people in January 1954. Musical expert, Lt. Col. F. Vivian Dunn, commented that the Sound Shell ‘and natural amphitheatre in front of it are assets with tremendous potentialities’.
1971 the waterfall, pond, brick shelter
and wall, and path access from the weather
office were all built. The Norwood family gift also
made possible the construction of a sloping bank to
the south of the waterfall, covering an unsightly
cliff where the hill had been cut away. This
provided the central basis for what was eventually
developed as the Peace Garden.
Wellington City and its citizens have
been active in promoting peace, tolerance and
understanding in the local community and in the world.
Wellington became a Nuclear-Weapon Free Zone in
on April 14th 1982 by decision of the
Wellington City Council. New
Zealand declared that it would become Nuclear free
in 1984 and the national legislation was passed in
The declaration by the Wellington City Council in 1993
Peace Garden dedication
legislation was passed the
anti-nuclear community worked with the
Japanese Anti-Nuclear campaigners of the time with
the view to bring the Hiroshima and
Nagasaki Peace flame to
Wellington. The Peace Garden and Peace
Flame in the lantern described above was developed
around the pond constructed in 1971.
It was dedicated on June
25th 1994 by
the Mayor of Wellington Fran Wilde and The Very Reverend Saga San,
Abbot of the Toshogu Shrine, Ueno, Tokyo, Japan.
The Peace Garden nests against a bank that is part of the Botanic Gardens Rose Garden. There is a small covered area with a seat. There is some information written in stone that gives a history surrounding the garden. On one side of the entrance is a piece of stone that came from Hiroshima.
Location of Peace Garden S 41° 16.855 E 174° 46.205
The parent tree, like most others, was burned to the ground in the bombing of the Japanese sea port of Nagasaki on 9 August, 1945. However, the tree regrew and is revered in Japan as a symbol of hope and new beginnings. It sits on the site of a shrine that was almost totally destroyed in the blast.
Three camphor laurel trees, propagated from this tree, were presented to Christchurch by Mayor Itoh of Nagasaki during a visit in May 2002. The gift was in recognition of the support given by New Zealand mayors to the anti-nuclear cause.
The tree planted in Wellington was carefully nurtured from a cutting taken from one of those three trees and was given to Wellington by Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore.
Mayor Prendergast, who was a member of the worldwide Mayors for Peace Network, planted the tree at the foot of Norwood Path adjacent to the Lady Norwood Rose Garden on Monday 27 June 2005.
As noted at the time ...“The camphor tree is a survivor. It is a testament to the hope that peace can triumph over war and will be an important addition to the Peace Garden which marks this city’s proud stance for peace and nuclear disarmament,” said Mayor Prendergast.
“The Peace Garden is a lasting reminder to Wellingtonians and visitors of the importance of peace in our communities, the important role Wellington has as the capital of a nuclear-free New Zealand to maintain that peace, and the contribution made to world peace by members of our community.”
Already holding pride of place in the Peace Garden is the Peace Flame which was ignited by a flame created by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, three days before Nagasaki. The flame was presented by the people of Japan to New Zealand as a salute to our efforts to halt the spread of atomic weapons.
Two months after the atomic bombing, Lieutenant R.J. Battersby photographed Nagasaki. He captured a non-denominational devastation. Cathedrals and shrines were dealt identical fates. And no discrimination was given between the creations of mankind and the creations of Mother Earth.
“Within a radius of one kilometre from ground zero, men and animals died almost instantaneously from the tremendous blast pressure and heat; houses and other structures were smashed, crushed and scattered; and fires broke out. The strong complex steel members of the structures of the Mitsubishi Steel Works were bent and twisted like jelly and the roofs of the reinforced concrete National Schools were crumpled and collapsed, indicating a force beyond imagination. Trees of all sizes lost their branches or were uprooted or broke off at the trunk.“
Amazingly, some structures in the first kilometre radius remained standing. Nagasaki’s Sanno Shrine, only 800 meters from the hypocenter, had three survivors. First, part of one of the shrine’s torii gates remained. After the blast, the torii balanced on one leg. The other leg was flattened, amputated, with the rest of the shrine. Nearby, there were two 500 year old camphor trees. Like the torii, they weren’t fully intact. Their upper portions were ripped away as were many of their branches and all of their leaves. Today, all three Sanno Shinto Shrine survivors are still standing. When the neighbourhood rebuilt and more modern buildings were constructed, the One-Legged Torii was preserved as a reminder of the forces that once tore through the city.
The two trees were once two of the largest camphor trees in the entire city. Topped by the blast, today they are only 10 meters tall. Height, however, does not equal vitality. As the tree’s leafed canopies can testify to– the trees are flourishing.
In 1945, the trees were symbols of hope and a new beginning. Today, they contribute to another message.
The trees recovered, and seedlings were sent far and wide by children wishing for peace. These second-generation trees are now growing healthily at schools and in towns throughout Japan. Over time, no matter what ill winds may blow, we shall never relinquish our commitment to a future that is free from nuclear weapons.
One of the second generation trees resides in the Wellington Peace Garden in New Zealand. “It is a testament to the hope that peace can triumph over war,” Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast stated in 2005.
Back in Nagasaki, the original camphor trees and the One-Legged Torii bear the scars of traumas past and stand with determination.
The creations of mankind and the creations of Mother Nature carry on.
A Wellington Peace
Heritage Walk linking key
people and places in New Zealand’s peace history was
launched as part of the World March for Peace and
Non-violence on Friday 2 October 2009.
The Heritage Walk includes the Gandhi statue, Sonja Davies memorial tree, Kate Sheppard Garden, Hiroshima Peace Flame, Wellington Nuclear-Free City sign, Peace Capital plaque, Peacemaker sculpture, Parihaka memorial and Antarctica monument. The walk goes through parliament, central business district, the waterfront and the Wellington Botanic Garden and is being launched by the Peace Foundation in conjunction with Living Streets Aotearoa.
“Wellington City and its citizens have been active in promoting peace, tolerance and understanding in the local community and in the world,” says Alyn Ware, Director of the Peace Foundation Wellington Office. “It is wonderful that this history is reflected in a range of sculptures, memorials, trees and historic sites. The Heritage Walk aims to make these treasures, and other related inspirational places, more known, accessible and appreciated.”
Chris Booth, sculptor for the Peacemaker which is situated in the botanic garden, welcomed the World March to his sculpture and discuss its relevance to peace.
“The Peacemaker is part of a trilogy of peace sculptures the other two being the Gateway sculpture in the Auckland Peace Heritage Walk and the Rainbow Warrior Memorial at Matauri Bay, which includes the propeller from the Greenpeace vessel now resting in the bay,” says Mr Booth who comes from Kerikeri.
“The three sculptures were all constructed from basalt rocks retrieved from the ocean, where the pounding of currents had rounded them into harmonious peaceful forms. The intent of each very different work was to accentuate the feeling of holism and to express a conviction for peace and harmony among humankind.”
Kanae Tsuji from Japan read a
message from Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue at the
Nagasaki tree, which was grown from a cutting from a
camphor tree which survived the 1945 nuclear
Details provided by Peter Tijsen and
Nola Sinclair, Past President and Life Member of the Japan Society of Wellington New Zealand,
who originally gifted the lantern to Wellington in 1975
Material also from Shepherd and Cook garden history,
various Management Plans for the Garden, and Wellington City archives.