Glimpse at Chinese garden (+ slideshow)

It has been a long, 11-year wait for Dunedin residents, but they will be allowed the first glimpses of the completed Chinese garden within two weeks.

The garden, at the end of Rattray St, will open to the public at 2pm on June 10.

In 1997, Dunedin historian Dr Jim Ng announced plans for a classical walled Chinese garden on the site near the Otago Settlers Museum.

The breakthrough came in May 2006, when Prime Minister Helen Clark announced the Government would contribute $3.75 million towards the garden from its Significant Community Based Projects Fund.

Official work on the site began in January last year.

Chinese Gardens Trust design manager John Henderson said "last-minute details" were being finished this week and the remaining five Chinese artisans would leave the city tomorrow.

Contractors would complete an access road between the garden and the Otago Settlers Museum, install gates, change bollards around the garden and finish off some wiring.

Staff for the garden would be trained in the days before the garden was opened.

There would be a blessing of the garden before its opening to the public.

An official opening would be held in September, attended by delegates from the Shanghai Municipal People's Government.

The garden hosted its first wedding on Saturday, when Dunedin couple Emma Caffell (21) and Isaac Beadle (22) exchanged their vows beside the goldfish-filled pond.

The couple had postponed their vows a month in order to get a booking at the garden.

At a glance

Location: On Dunedin City Council-owned land at the harbour end of Rattray St, between the Otago Settlers Museum and the main trunk railway line.

Size:0.6 ha.

Main Features: Pavilions, covered walkways, observation tower, ponds, water rocks and plants replicating an authentic 17th-century walled garden from the Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1911).

Designed by: Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Construction and Decoration Company, Bruce Young.

Built by: Foundations by Amalgamated Builders, main construction work by artisans from from Shanghai Construction and Decoration Company, and other companies for landscape, planting.

Cost: $6.5 million.

Who is paying: New Zealand Government $3.75 million, Dunedin City Council
$1 million, Community Trust of Otago $1 million, fund-raising by Chinese community $800,000.

Ongoing operational and maintenance costs: Dunedin City Council.

Admission Charges: Adults $8, students $5, season ticket $15.

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