The second annual Haumoana Playcentre Giant Pumpkin Growing Competition has forged on ahead with some marvellous specimens, despite Cyclone Gabrielle. Photo / Ian Cooper
Not even a cyclone could stop the second annual Haumoana Giant Pumpkin Competition and its crop of absolutely monstrous orange squash.
The competition took place on Sunday, March 19.
Winners of the largest pumpkin were first-timers Lucia Menzies, Mathilde Menzies, Caroline Clark and her partner, all from Argyll, with the 98.4-kilo “Polly Pumpkin”.
“There was a lot of compost involved and a lot of manure and not much watering because we had plenty of rain. I think we just chose a good sunny spot,” Clark said.
They hadn’t decided what to do with the pumpkin yet.
“We’ve been looking up ways to preserve large pumpkins, maybe make it into a garden sculpture.”
Co-organiser Julia Hughes said the playcentre itself was unfortunately flooded and badly damaged in the cyclone, so they decided to do a raffle, sausage sizzle, bake sale and koha box to fundraise for rebuild efforts.
“We took three full skip bins with roughly 50-plus years of memories embedded in the books, toys, and furniture to the dump,” Hughes said.
Fellow organiser Briony Raven said the scale of the event doubled expectations and was “a huge hit”.
She said they estimated it would cost $100,000 to fix the damage to the playcentre.
“It’s not just about the money, it is about bringing people in, it is also bringing people in together and celebrating.”
There was $2,500 worth of prizes, from local sponsors, with the categories including Heaviest Pumpkin, Girthiest Pumpkin and public votes on Best Name, Ugliest Pumpkin and Most Beautiful Pumpkin.
There was also a Pumpkin King and Pumpkin Queen.
The playcentre building was designed by well-known local John Scott.
His granddaughter Hana Scott, whose son attended the centre, followed in his footsteps to become an architect and has offered her services to help the rebuild.
“I think it is quite important to try and keep the building alive,” Scott said.
She said she lives close to the centre and was sad to see it flooded during the cyclone, but it was luckily a resilient building.
“It is kind of the perfect construction really because it is all concrete block so we are very fortunate to not have to rip out lots of gib and dry out all the walls and all that.”
She said they had given themselves a timeline of six months to get whānau back into the playcentre.