At the AGM Michael Jones was formally presented with a certificate recording his new status as our first Life Member. It was a pleasure to present this to Michael following the recent announcement of the honour.
Society members are familiar with Michael’s enthusiastic and scholarly presence in our midst and many have been taught by him at Unitec. Not so familiar may be the story of his inspiring and rewarding career in the field of Landscape and Garden Design.
Bristol born, Michael emigrated to New Zealand in 1961. His training in landscape architecture was in the Lincoln post-graduate DipLA in 1986-7. A group of four on the course decided on the somewhat audacious plan as brand new graduates to form a Landscape Architecture practice, Isthmus Group, in Auckland. So into the turmoil of the stock market crash, the Isthmus Group began in January 1988.
After a lean two years the practice took off and in 1993 won the George Malcolm Award for the design of the Brown’s Bay Town Centre. The practice flourished and has an impressive body of work across the country.
In 1990 Jacqueline Margetts approached Isthmus Group to take over the teaching of Garden Design History at Unitec, which evolved into Michael taking personal responsibility for that whole course.
The following years saw Michael take up a position as the first Landscape Architect in the Urban Design Division of Auckland City Council becoming responsible for drafting the special character zones and criteria for the district plan - a move to preserve built heritage at neighbourhood level, the first such effort in NZ. During his years with Auckland City Michael furthered his passion for garden history by participating in and later leading a specialist study tour of Italian gardens.
Lecturing at Unitec continued until he took up a tenured position. In 1993/4 Michael assisted Rod Barnett in drafting the 4 year BLA degree which commenced in 1996.
Roles as President of NZILA, judge and convenor of judges for the Ellerslie International Flower Show, and LIANZ national awards chair of judges seemed natural extensions of Michael’s dedication to the academic and creative development of Garden Design.
In 2001/2, a small group of staff at Unitec led by Ian Henderson, Lesley Haines and Michael met regularly to explore the formation of a Garden Design Society, in the belief that garden design deserved its own professional organization. Michael visited staff of the Garden Design School at Leeds University to discuss their experience of the UK Society of Garden Design and how it managed accreditation. He found there was no accreditation! Despite this fact and with great resolve, Michael drafted the NZ constitution, to include accreditation.
In June 2002 a group of fifteen formed the Society, subsequently becoming the signatories of the application to the Registrar of Incorporated Societies. Thus the GDSNZ was born in August 2002. Michael joined the National Committee elected that day under the chairmanship of Ian Henderson and has remained on the committee ever since, serving as Chair from 2005 – 2007.
His experience, wisdom, and willingness to guide and support the Society through these important early years is greatly appreciated by us all. May your active contribution as a Life Member, long continue Michael!