Raglan Horticultural Society digging in for 120 years

Raglan Horticultural Society celebrates 120 years of digging and delving, cutting and pruning, and weeding and composting this year.  

Of course, the history of gardening in Whaingaroa goes back hundreds of years to the first Māori, but the earliest record of a horticultural competition in the Raglan district was a root and vegetable show held in June 1902.

In a time when work was all encompassing and coming together for community events took time and effort, the idea for a competition was sparked by local farmers and the Raglan Horticultural Society was born.

The gardening powers that be decided to go bigger the next year and in May 1903 the Agricultural and Horticultural Show held its first event; most likely featuring vegetables, fruit, flowers and livestock.

Held on the fields owned by the horticulture society president Mr W M Bankart, between Bankart and Stewart Streets, the show would have been a focal point for locals to come together and show off their hard work.

By 1910, at the societies AGM, the treasurer reported funds of 13 pounds, 14 shillings and 11 pence – over $3000 in today’s terms.  The president at the time, Mr Rutherford, reported to members that as the weather had been so bad the annual Spring Show may have to be delayed.      

Named for the Raglan MP Richard Bollard, the society’s oldest trophy, the Bollard Challenge Cup, was first presented in 1926 to a Mrs C Gilmour for overall competition. 

Even during WWII the society was able to put on two shows in 1940 and 1941.

With a membership of around 100 members in 1993, the society entered the Annual New Year’s Parade and won first prize.    

That same year the popular Flower Show took an extended break of 25 years and restarted in 2014.

It now runs on alternate years with the very popular Garden Ramble.
Current president Geoff Pownall says the members are excited to be marking 120 years and are looking forward to commemorating the society’s beginnings in June.

“Much will depend on Covid restrictions, but we are planning to celebrate with a winter lunch in June, and in November with the Garden Ramble.” 

Geoff is extending an invitation to new members and those of days past to join the society in celebrating 120 years of gardening.        

The first Raglan Horticultural Society meeting this year is on Tuesday, February 15 at 1pm and then every third Tuesday of the month in the Church Hall, Stewart Street. 

By Janine Jackson