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Sam McGredy

WORLD FAMOUS ROSE GARDEN UNDER THREAT

Legendary rose breeder Sam McGredy says a proposal to pull out "one of the best rose gardens in the world" to save $60,000 a year is outrageous and the rose world will "kick up hell" if Hamilton city councillors back it.

Ripping out the world-renowned Rogers Rose Garden and dismantling five of Hamilton's civic fountains are among the latest proposals to help get city council budgets back into the black.

Families using the city's parks should also get used to digging prickles out of tender feet over summer, as spraying for onehunga weed is also among the swathe of proposed cuts to prune $2.2 million a year from parks budgets.

"It has historical roses, and a lot of my roses, that would be lost to the world," Dr McGredy said of the rose garden proposal.

"I can't believe they're even contemplating it, when you think of the amount of money they spend on car races and rugby stadiums."

Councillors earlier this month demanded staff find ways to double proposed cuts of $1.1m to the city's parks and open spaces.

An internationally regarded rose breeder, Dr McGredy emigrated to New Zealand in 1972 from Ireland and developed a multimillion-dollar export rose breeding business. Among his most famous is the red climber Dublin Bay.

He retired from rose breeding in 2007 after producing his last selection, Rose Hamilton Gardens, ironically named in honour of the gardens which council staff now recommend ripping out.

He said it was "beyond comprehension" that the council was even considering destroying what was regarded as one of the great rose gardens of the world to save such a small amount of money.

Some councillors are already backing away from the proposal. Dave Macpherson described it as a "stupid suggestion" which he was confident would go nowhere when the council considered it at a meeting today.

Martin Gallagher said he would be "absolutely opposing" every recommendation in the report and telling councillors who asked for the cuts to be doubled that "if you ask a nutty question, you'll get a nutty answer". Former city mayor Denis Rogers and his brother, Hamilton GP Anthony Rogers, were among the major advocates for the establishment of Waikato University and "for the city to even contemplate cutting out an incredible rose garden named in their memory is an act of monumental disrespect", Mr Gallagher said.

Mr Macpherson said the fact the proposal had made it to council showed councillors "need to take charge much more of the agenda that management are following. There are many cutbacks we should be considering."

Among other proposals in the parks and gardens report are demolishing the Victorian Gardens pavilions at Hamilton Gardens, and slashing budgets for the city's sports parks to help save another $1.1m a year.

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