(Vice President/ Treasurer)
Born and raised in Venice, Italy - I speak both English and Italian at a native proficiency. I have been a Software Developer for the past 11 years working with different businesses in a variety of fields and with non for profits across Canterbury and the West Coast.
I’ve been married to my wife Maria since 2011. We own a property with a small garden near Hillmorton where we grow a variety of edibles and herbs.
In my spare time I enjoy playing tennis, reading, family history research, stargazing, amateur radio, running and spending time with family and friends.
I am also involved with over 10 community organizations across New Zealand at a governance and volunteer level. I really enjoy getting involved and getting things done, which is why I am on the CHS Board.
(Garden Club Representative)
My interest in gardening and horticulture developed at a very young age, helping my dad in the garden of our large suburban section. By the age of 13 I was given the responsibility to look after the flower garden in its entirety.
Since the day I left high school, my chosen career has been travel and tourism, in which I was fortunate to manage various travel agencies in Christchurch and be able to travel extensively throughout the world. This fueled my passion for creating interesting tours based around historic gardens and related venues, in doing so I have been able to visit gardens all over the world and have met with interesting like-minded people - all with their own story to tell.
I joined the CHS in 2008 and assisted Freda Hunter with the CHS Ellerslie tour programmes on a voluntary basis. On Freda’s retirement I took over the management of the CHS organised tours until the end of 2018.
I had an earlier association with the CHS through my involvement with the Springston Evening Garden Club which I had the privilege of chairing for four years and still remain an active member of.
I am also a member of the Tai Tapu Garden Club and am currently the President of the CHS Garden Club Reps which I have chaired for the last four years, and represented the Garden Clubs on the CHS board for the last two years.
My desire for the future of the CHS is to support the initiatives for the younger generation such as school garden competitions and “Orchards in Schools”, to continue to assist the garden clubs with arranging speakers, and participating in shows and garden visits for learning, fellowship and fun.
I am originally from South Wales where one of my first memories is being with my Grampy in his greenhouse watering the tomato plants. My partner Tony and I came to NZ in 2003 on our OE but we loved it so much we didn’t go back.
Though we have travelled all over New Zealand we have always lived and worked in Christchurch. We love the city, the climate and proximity to both the beach and mountains.
In the UK I was an internet programmer but wanted a change and so went back to my roots and opened a jewellery shop in Riccarton while rediscovering my interest in growing food and attending evening gardening courses.
When the first of our three boys arrived in 2007 I closed the jewellery shop and started to sell online. In 2013 I decided to jump into studying organic horticulture at the BHU, Lincoln University. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and stayed on to lease land and grow vegetables for both Lincoln and Akaroa farmers markets. I was planning to extend my lease to a larger plot in 2017 when I discovered I was pregnant with our third child.
Since then, I have returned to selling jewellery online and growing in our home garden. I have also been involved with a number of local community committees, including treasurer for our local Playcentre.
Tēnā koutou katoa. Despite being brought up by two keen gardening parents, it wasn’t until Kristin and I purchased a property on the lower flanks of the Port Hills that the horticulture bug really bit.
By weekday, I’m the emergency management planner for the Canterbury Civil Defence Emergency Management Group. At the weekend, I’m often continuing to work on our established sloping section that came with mature native bush, and several risks included nearby for free. I’m very keen on natives for biodiversity and I’m always trying to fit another new native that can feed or protect wildlife on the section. I’m also trying to attract and grow more butterflies. I’m keen on food production and permaculture and sneaking more productive plants on the section, as well as dabbling with vertical food production indoors. I also enjoy getting out and planting natives with community projects in wintertime. I’m interested in planting to manage risks – something we’re all going to have to deal with more with climate change.
A big part of joining the CHS a few years back was training and picking up more gardening skills. I’ve also recently completed a Certificate in Horticulture through Te Pūkenga. I’ve served on several committees and boards over the years, including the International Association of Emergency Managers – Oceania, the Sahana Software Foundation, and the Nature Photography Society of New Zealand. I’m keen to see the CHS expand into what are increasingly some of the horticultural issues of our times, including biodiversity and restoration, permaculture, adaptation to climate change, and partnerships with like-minded organisations.
My interest in gardening and The Canterbury Horticultural Society started back in the 70’s as a commercial flower grower and subsequently a flower wholesaler. I helped develop a family business as a flower buyer distributing flowers nationwide in the 1960’s into New Zealand’s First Independent Flower Wholesale Company.
As President from 2010 to 2012 I was able to guide the Society through some significant changes; the Sesquicentennial, 150 year, anniversary celebration and a review of the constitution bringing the Board of Governance into the 21 st century. More recently I enjoy the camaraderie of being a volunteer. I spent a number of years on the Trust Board of the Christchurch South Community Gardens and recently through my involvement with the Rotary Club of Riccarton a brief interest in the Shirley Community Garden and The Shirley Tool Shed. I joined the Rotary Club of Riccarton in 2017 where I am currently the Immediate Past President and actively volunteer at the club’s Riccarton Sunday Market; a significant community fundraiser.
I have two adult daughters and five grandchildren all living, at least until recently, in Christchurch. For myself I am a widower living with a four-legged companion named Nero. While my horticulture and garden skills are limited I believe that my other life skills may be of use to the Board of The Canterbury Horticultural Society in the future.
Colin Meurk is the Honorary Botanist for the Canterbury Horticultural Society
Neiel Drain is the as Patron of the Canterbury Horticultural Society and Life member