• Ellerslie Event Centre

Media Release: Award-winning designer teams up with Ellerslie Event Centre community to restore ANZA

A little slice of ANZAC history has been revived at Auckland’s Ellerslie Event Centre in the form of a memorial garden.

Ellerslie Event Centre CEO, Paul Wilcox (second from left) with Xanthe White, Ellerslie Primary School puplils and Mt Wellington RSA war veteran, veteran, Greg Vuglar

The special garden was originally planted by the Auckland Rotary Club over two decades ago and is a tribute to the many soldiers who fought and died for New Zealand. The Ellerslie Event Centre team felt it was time the memorial garden was updated and given a little extra TLC in time for this year’s ANZAC celebrations, with the help of some of today’s local heroes both young and old.

The team enlisted the help of award winning landscape designer, Xanthe White, who has won numerous awards for her work including a Silver Gilt award at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and a gold medal and Best Design award at the Gardening World Cup in Japan. Xanthe worked with local children from Ellerslie Primary School who enjoyed their hands-on role helping replant the remembrance garden today, in time for Anzac Day on Wednesday.

The team hard at work in the Ellerslie Event Centre ANZAC garden

To ensure the new design truly acknowledged our war veterans, the local Mt Wellington RSA was invited to be part of the planting process with veteran, Greg Vuglar, representing and showing his support.

The project also led to the discovery of some fascinating World War II history. Through their research of the site, the Ellerslie Event Centre team uncovered some historical documents detailing how their land and buildings were used as a 722-bed military hospital and for training purposes for the No.1 Field Battery engineers and the National Military Reserve.

Paul Wilcox, Chief Executive Officer, Ellerslie Event Centre and Auckland Racing Club, said; “It is a little gem of a garden that represents a special part of our history here and commemorates the Kiwi soldiers who served during the wars, and the many who lost their lives. It deserved some extra attention and we are delighted with Xanthe’s design which gives it a new lease of life. I am sure our members and visiting public will appreciate seeing the beautiful garden and all that it signifies.”

A job well done. Award-winning designer Xanthe White with the Ellerslie Primary School pupils who helped bring her garden design to life at Auckland's Ellerslie Event Centre

Xanthe White says; “I was pleased to be involved as the Anzac Day parade was an important time for my grandfather who always played the last post for the dawn service. Remembering both the loss and the companionship found in war is something we need to pass to the next generation so their memory and sacrifice is protected.

“With this in mind, the garden design I created is to reflect a rising sun with a poppy at the heart, to acknowledge the dawn service with the new light and new day emerging as the poppy emerged from the dust in the battle fields.”

The garden is located outside the Ascot Stand area and is open for the public to come and view.

To watch a story about the Ellerslie Event Centre ANZAC garden & the history it unearthed, click here to view a clip from Newshub's Wilhelmina Shrimpton.

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