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MIT students bring slice of heaven to Ellerslie

MIT students bring slice of heaven to Ellerslie for the first time

The world of Wallace Footrot Cadwallader’s country farm, surrounded by native trees, shrubs and grasses, will form the backdrop to Manukau Institute of Technology horticulture students’ entry in the Ellerslie International Flower Show this month.

This is the first time a class from MIT’s School of Horticulture will enter the internationally-renowned show, which runs from 15 November to 19 November.

Entitled “Slice of Heaven” the team’s garden design is based on the swampland and scrub environment of well-known Kiwi cartoonist Murray Ball’s animated classic Footrot Flats.

The design is based around the cartoon’s main characters, complete with dashes of red to represent Cheeky Hobson – the woman with the flaming red lips, miniskirt and red high heels who stole Wal’s heart.

The MIT team, made up of seven Diploma in Landscaping students, is entering the Design Marquee category at the show and will compete against student teams from other tertiary education providers.

MIT landscape programme leader Elle Anderson, who is coordinating the team, says entering the show is a great learning experience for the students. She has lead a team from MIT’s School of Horticulture, in conjunction with Unitec, at the Ellerslie International Flower Show before, winning an award each time, culminating in two silver and two bronze medals

“The show is a pressure cooker environment as the team has to create a fabulous garden in a 5m by 5m space,” she says. “The experience they gain in this situation cannot be replicated in a classroom.”

Each student is responsible for certain tasks in setting up the garden which involves a lot of fussy work, such as washing foliage on the day before the design is judged, says Elle.

“It is a small team and fortunately they all get on, which is essential when entering such a high pressured competition in a tiny space.”

The MIT student team consists of Sarah Harvey and Nick Dodd of Whitford, Sue Makepeace of Mangare East, Tanya Groenewegen of Bucklands Beach, Yenny Meldgaard of Maraetai, Haiguang Jim Zheng of Howick and Jinsong (Ailsa) Zou of Papatoetoe and Elle, a Hunua resident, as project coordinator.

The garden will feature typical native plants found in rural New Zealand such as cabbage trees (Cordyline australis), New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax), ponga (Cyathea dealbata) and manuka (Leptospermum scoparium). It will also boast a pond feature with stepping stones to a veranda, where a makeshift table and chairs is set up for outdoor dining.


About MIT

Manukau Institute of Technology is one New Zealand’s largest polytechnics. It offers 140 formal programmes at degree, diploma and certificate level to 6891 equivalent full time students. Established in 1970 as the country’s first purpose built polytechnic, MIT delivers vocational training. With a workforce of 900, MIT is one of the biggest employers in the Counties Manukau region. Manukau City is New Zealand’s fastest growing metropolis.

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