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Our Environment: Issue 18 Autumn 1999

Our Environment: Christchurch City Council's Environmental Newsletter

Wardens Help Care For Our City Parks And Rivers

At least twice daily John and Jenny Hoskin check the Edmonds Factory Gardens in Ferry Road to make sure the tranquil, picturesque reserve hasn't been scarred by vandals and graffiti louts.

They are honorary wardens, part of a 209-strong army of dedicated volunteers who help Council rangers and trade waste officers preserve and protect our parks, rivers and foreshore.

Acting as the eyes and ears of the Council, their main job is educate and observe, passing on information about those who flout laws and by-laws. However some wardens, including John and Jenny Hoskin, adopt a more hands-on approach. For example they routinely paint over or rub out graffiti as soon as it appears in their patch to reduce the number of further attacks.

"Okay, the constant battle against graffiti is a bit frustrating, but we're not going to let them win," says Jenny.

The couple have a leading role in the Friends of Edmonds Factory Gardens John is President and both have been wardens for several years. Other wardens in the area also keep an eye on the gardens and public spaces generally.

With the help of supportive neighbours, an effective watch system operates. In the past wardens have contacted police to pass on registration plate numbers of vehicles belonging to visitors causing a nuisance or stealing roses. Two $50 "donations" have been received by the Friends.

As the size of sections shrinks, many people from the surrounding community enjoy visiting the spacious reserve in the former grounds of the demolished Edmonds baking powder factory. A tourist bus stops at the gardens, and many wedding photos are taken there. "We want to keep the place looking well kept and clean so people want to come here, " said Jenny. "Everyone has a responsibility to preserve things for those coming after us."


Jenny and John Hoskin remove graffiti from a seat in the Edmonds Factory Gardens.

Warden Barry Saunders has become a familiar sight at Washington Skatepark every Saturday and Sunday. His priority is to make sure the park is safe for the younger skateboarders who flock there. "It's like a family park during the weekends it's quietened down a lot now," says Barry a former karate instructor who is trained in first aid.

Nearby in Opawa, another warden sets out early each morning armed with a rubbish bag to walk the banks of the Heathcote River between Beckford Road and the Opawa footbridge downstream.

A warden for about 10 years, his main objective is to check that the river and its banks are clean. That means picking up rubbish and painting out graffiti. He has also helped Council staff fish out a double mattress and a sackful of stolen pharmacy drugs from the Heathcote.

He is modest about his role: "If you're going for a walk you might as well be doing something."

Ali Taylor-Hayhurst of the Council's Parks Unit says increased recreational use of walkways and parks puts pressure on the natural environment. Reporting of deliberate vandalism and damage is very important to protect our public spaces. "Wardens also have a major role in education of the public about fragile areas where plants are regenerating or wildlife is nesting or has feeding grounds," she says.

Park rangers or trade waste officers are available round the clock for reports and inquiries regarding offences or problems needing further investigation, surveillance or back up.

The City's honorary wardens, who carry a warrant of appointment issued by the City Council, include 149 members of the public, 36 Community Board members and 24 Councillors.

Councillors and Community Board members are appointed automatically upon election to office. Other wardens volunteer or are nominated by residents' groups, Council officers or other wardens.

If you are interested in becoming an honorary warden please contact Ali Taylor-Hayhurst at the Parks Unit, or telephone her on 941 8633.

Jennie Hamilton


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