New Zealand History & Culture Of The Rose

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Roses are a beloved flower around the world, and New Zealand is no exception. The history and culture of the rose in New Zealand is a fascinating topic that spans back to the early colonial days. Early settlers brought the roses to New Zealand, and many of these heritage roses still thrive today.

The New Zealand Rose Society has been fostering the rose culture in the country since its founding in 1945. The society holds local rose meetings, rose shows, pruning demonstrations, and rose trials, and publishes a rose of the month. The society also produces the annual Rose Review, which is a full-color guide to New Zealand’s latest rose varieties.

In June 1980, Toni Sylvester and the late Ken Nobbs formed Heritage Roses New Zealand Incorporated. Both had a specific interest in growing and learning about old-fashioned roses. Moreover, they believed that there was a group of gardeners in New Zealand with similar interests. Heritage Roses NZ holds events and workshops throughout the country to promote the cultivation and preservation of heritage roses.

Historical Roots

Roses were first introduced to New Zealand by European settlers in the early 19th century. Early records state that in 1810, Rosa damascena and Rosa centifolia were the first varieties brought to New Zealand. These roses were a common sight in the gardens of wealthy settlers and soon became popular ornamental plants throughout the country.

Over the years, breeders have introduced many different varieties of roses to New Zealand, including hybrid teas, floribundas, and climbers. However, there has also been a growing interest in heritage roses, which are roses that were introduced before 1867. One of the most famous heritage roses in New Zealand is ‘Slater’s Crimson China’. Not long after, it became popular in New Zealand due to its hardiness and bright crimson blooms. Another popular heritage rose is the fragrant Damask rose ‘Kazanlik’.

Today, there are many rose societies and groups throughout New Zealand that are dedicated to preserving and promoting the history and culture of the rose in the country. They hold regular meetings, shows, and events, and work to educate the public about the importance and role of heritage roses in New Zealand’s history and culture.

Cultural Significance

Roses have been a significant part of New Zealand’s culture for over a century. Often, people use them at weddings, Valentine’s Day, and other romantic occasions. Roses are also an expression of gratitude, admiration, and sympathy, making them versatile flowers for many different occasions.

In addition to their symbolic meanings, roses are also an important part of New Zealand’s heritage. Several societies have been making efforts to preserve ancient rose species from extinction. The New Zealand Rose Society, founded in 1931, is dedicated to promoting the cultivation of roses and preserving heritage roses. District rose societies hold meetings, organize rose shows and pruning demonstrations, and arrange garden visits.

Roses also have a practical significance in New Zealand’s culture. Rosehips are high in vitamin C and harvesters collect them to make tea, jams, and other food products. On the other hand, rose oil is used in perfumes, cosmetics, and aromatherapy.

Further, New Zealand is home to many famous beautiful rose gardens. Here are two of the most famous rose gardens in New Zealand:

The Parnell Rose Garden in Parnell, Auckland, is one of the most popular rose gardens in New Zealand. The garden is named after Dove-Myer Robinson, the longest-serving mayor of Auckland, who served for 18 years. It boasts over 5,000 roses of all colors and varieties, including hybrid teas, floribundas, and climbers. The garden is open to the public year-round and is a popular spot for picnics, weddings, and other events.

The Wellington Botanic Garden, located in Wellington, is home to the award-winning Lady Norwood Rose Garden. The garden features over 300 roses of all colors and varieties, including hybrid teas, floribundas, and climbers. The garden is open to the public year-round and is a popular spot for visitors to Wellington.

Both of these rose gardens are must-visit destinations for rose lovers and garden enthusiasts in New Zealand. Whether you’re looking to admire the beauty of the roses or simply enjoy a peaceful stroll through the gardens, you’re sure to have a memorable experience at these world-renowned rose gardens.

Roses in New Zealand

New Zealand is home to a variety of unique rose varieties that have been present since the European settlement. These roses have become an important part of the country’s cultural heritage and rose enthusiasts and gardeners alike celebrate

The red rose, Slater’s Crimson China, is a descendant of the first known rose and has a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s. Much of this variety grows around Kemp House in Kerikeri, which is New Zealand’s oldest building.

Another unique rose variety is Kazanlik, which is a very ancient rose from the Damask family. This rose is famous for the attar of roses that is extracted from its petals and has been used for centuries in the production of perfumes.

Lady Hillingdon is a beautiful yellow rose that was first introduced to New Zealand in the early 1900s. This rose is a popular choice for gardeners who want to add a touch of fragrance and elegance to their gardens.

Another rose variety that is unique to New Zealand is the New Zealand Rose, which the late Sam McGredy IV. This rose has a distinctive dark red color and is known for its strong fragrance and hardiness. The New Zealand Rose has won numerous awards and is a popular choice for gardeners who want to add a touch of New Zealand to their gardens.

Overall, New Zealand is home to a variety of unique rose varieties that have played an important role in the country’s cultural heritage. From the tough red Slater’s Crimson China to the beautiful yellow Lady Hillingdon, these roses are celebrated by gardeners and rose enthusiasts alike for their beauty, fragrance, and historical significance.


Overall, roses hold a special place in New Zealand’s culture and history. They are not only beautiful and fragrant flowers but also have important symbolic, practical, and heritage significance.

Roses Originating In New Zealand

The Rose Directory website library catalogues roses from around the world. If there are any roses originating from this country, you can find a clickable list to explore below. If there are no roses listed, don’t worry – we will continue to add more roses to the catalogue in the future and more may appear then.

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