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Deb Hardy

Citation, as read by Rose Thodey, on the evening of the awarding of Life membership to Deb Hardy on Tuesday 6th June, 2023 at the 2023 AGM, held at Eden Community Church, 72-74 View Road, Mount Eden, Auckland, New Zealand.

This evening we have a special presentation to make to one of our members whose dedication and star quality have been essential to the growing success of our burgeoning Society.

Almost from the time that it was originally set up in 2002, there has scarcely been a single aspect or activity where this person hasn’t played a key role. Happily taking on the most taxing of tasks and duties with dedication, enthusiasm, and enterprise.

It all began in 2001 when our rising star was a student in the 2-year diploma course in Landscape Design at Unitec. One of the founding members of the Society, Ian Henderson, remembers being impressed early on by her enthusiasm, organisation and communication.

Michael Jones, who was lecturing at Unitec and helped draw up the constitution, recalls that she was the first student member of the Society, displaying a maturity beyond most of the others in her year. He was happily surprised when she casually offered to buy him a coffee, quote: ‘this was a first, which clearly showed that she was much more mature than a young school leaver, who wouldn’t even have thought of it’. As you’ve probably guessed by now - that’s our Deb!

In 2003 she graduated as Top Design Student and Michael persuaded her onto the National Committee in 2004.

From 2008 to 2013 she was Secretary of that committee, always putting her hand up to carry out whatever task should crop up. To quote Michael again: “The task of Secretary is a huge one ... arranging annual meetings, elections, and so on ... and I recall how careful she was to stick to the constitution as to the amount of 'notice' that had to be given.” This attention to detail has been fundamental to the smooth running of the Society. Penny Cliffin provides further evidence of this by pointing out that Deb has been the consistent holder of the ‘Policies and Practices of the Society’ throughout.

Be it the AGM where, without fail, she has always known exactly what must be done, or at National Committee meetings, providing an essential link between that and the Events Committee – wherever – our heroine has been key.

She was President from 2013 – 15 and on the Executive committee for the following 2 years (in fact she is still on the executive committee!)

During this time her skills were essential in the groundbreaking work of setting up the Garden DesignFest, which she has co-chaired with Rotary since 2018. Where would we be today without Deb’s input in ensuring that we have an excellent ongoing relationship with our prime sponsors, Dawson & Co and Kings Plant Barn? Let alone all the others, like Purple Sherbet, who provide essential and wide-ranging PR support.

Information and Communication were always her forte and now, as Vice-President, she has made this her own special offering to the Society, with her publicity skills and enthusiasm for building relationships to the fore. Not to mention the dedication and enterprise she has displayed in contacting international speakers and enticing them to our shores – e.g., the recent visit by Michael McCoy. Glenys Yeoman also recalls how she “simply rocked up to Kathryn Gustafson at the Australian Conference in Melbourne and persuaded her to visit us.” Charm personified!

Yet another remarkable achievement has been her involvement with the new website, initiated by Penny when she was president. Alex Bartleet says that Deb has been instrumental in assisting with content as well as setting up the event pages and members area. She is now creating ticketed events herself and updating profiles of designers. He confirms that she has really gone far and beyond with making it work and getting it where it is – they’ve been a great team!

Finally, we must pay homage to her own successful design career, as evidenced by the stunning photos behind me, some of them courtesy of Your Home and Garden magazine. They showcase Deb’s own beautifully designed garden in Western Springs – until recently ‘her very own subtropical oasis’ as well as the Sandringham garden she had in the 2019 DesignFest, plus her ‘Tropica’ Garden on Plinth – NZ Flower & Garden Show 2018.

After 19 years of remarkable dedication and hopefully many more to come, we can think of no-one who is more deserving of the honour of receiving this Life Membership than our very own, Deb Hardy!

Garden Design Society of New Zealand (GDSNZ)

Member since 2001
National committee member since 2004 (19 years)

President 2013 - 2015 (2 year term)

Auckland Garden DesignFest
Committee member June 2011 – May 2018 (7 years, 4 events)

Co-Chairperson May 2018 -  June 2023 (5 years, 2 events)

Life Member presentation at AGM 2023, Tuesday 6th June.

Prepared and presented by Rose Thodey.

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