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The award was one of seven collected by Dunedin landscape design company Design and Garden Landscapes Ltd for three separate gardens at the Landscape Industries Association of New Zealand awards in Auckland last week.
The Port Chalmers garden won the premier award for the best use of New Zealand native plants, a gold award for landscape horticulture and a silver award for landscape design.
A contemporary residential garden at a property in Fairfield collected two merit awards, and a garden on a small steep residential property in St Clair two silver awards.
Company owner Wayne Butson said the 800sq m Hotere Garden Oputae had taken about two months to complete in 2005 and included the installation of four sculptures by Hotere, Chris Booth, Shona Rapira-Davies and Russell Moses.
Mr Butson said because the site had formerly been a quarter acre section with house and garden, much work was required to transform it.
A panel of four judges said the Hotere garden epitomised the "wild New Zealand landscape" and the use of many smaller native grasses was inspired.
"This garden set the pulses racing and was a clear winner in this section," the judges' citation said.
Mr Butson said the plants were chosen to suit the coastal environment but also to keep the garden simple, to allow full appreciation of the views.