Te Awahou’s Tantalising Tulips

Published on December 06, 2022

Te Awahous Tantalising Tulips.
More than 2,400 tulips brightened Te Awahou Foxton this spring, a nod to Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom’s Dutch connection, and an opportunity to bring awareness to Parkinson’s disease.

Planted in July in the Cultural Park behind Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, one bed was planted in the shape of a tulip, and a second flag-shaped plot was planted with bulbs in the colours of the Netherlands. 

A joint effort between Council staff and contractors, and Parkinson’s representatives from Kāpiti-Horowhenua, the project helps the park retain its prestigious “green flag” accreditation for the Cultural Park, one of five awarded to 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. 

It was another Green Flag recognised site, Levin’s Thompson House Park, which triggered the tulip 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 2021. 

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

Within six months of receiving the proposal the bulbs were planted. 

“We are grateful to Council for taking up the project. From our point of view, it is a great way of raising awareness of Parkinson’s – the world’s fastest growing neurological disease.” 

Tulips were adopted as the official symbol of Parkinson’s in 2005, after 20 years of informal association. In 1980 Dutch horticulturalist and Parkinson’s disease sufferer J.W.S Van der Wereld developed a red and white variant. He named it ‘Dr James Parkinson’ in honour of the man who first documented the features of Parkinson’s disease in his 1817 publication ‘An Essay on the Shaking Palsy’. Today, wearing a red tulip raises awareness and shows support for people living with Parkinson’s globally. 

Horowhenua District Council’s Parks and Property Lead (North), Sean Hester says, “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.” 

“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.” 

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 tulip bulbs to Parkinson’s for fundraising purposes after they have bloomed. 

New bulbs will be planted in July of next year.