Project Rescue - Murray Radka at Brandy Hill
In May my Pratt Family Scholarship research culminated in the printing of a booklet titled Project Rescue. I was awarded the scholarship in 2012 but because of health issues and the fact that the work required me to travel I was not able to complete it until this year.
The main purpose of the research was to write a history of the National Register of Heritage Roses, the reason for its creation, the issues it had to solve, the protocols it developed and its successes to date. Ironically, my health issues had a silver lining because there was much more to describe three years aft er its creation than there would have been so close to the event. I hope that the information held in the first part of the book will help members better understand our work and be useful for those who take over the responsibility for the Register in time. If they understand what we had to contend with and why we made the decisions we did it should make the job easier for people in the future.
The second part of the book is an account via interviews of the contribution made by various people to bring heritage roses into the country, to make them available to the public, and to grow them in public and private spaces. There is always a risk with such projects that some people will be left out and so a lot of thought and care was put into who to include. They fit four groups: the Register Team, the propagators, the people who have created or care for public heritage rose collections, and the two people who created the organisation HRNZI.
I am an historian, a teacher and a guidance counsellor by training and career and it was inevitable that I should bring my own interests, values and skills to the interviews which were an absolute delight for me to conduct. Of course facts and timelines were important but not at the expense of the personal. In a number of cases much had been written about the interviewees before and of course they are all well known within their areas. I have tried to bring something else to the table; my own perspective on these people, their motivations, actions and successes, and have put my own insights into all of that.
To my delight and relief almost all of them expressed surprise and pleasure with their interview, having been unaware they were disclosing so much about themselves or of the effect their words were having on me. Our interviews were a two-way affair, with the interviewer an important part of the relationship, and for that reason I hope that no matter what has been written before, these interviews have my own unique stamp on them.
This report was the only obligation under the terms of the scholarship, but I thought it important to respect my subjects within a publication that was worthy of them, and so had the work printed rather than published online.
It includes as many photographs of the rare roses we have saved as was practical, plus comments from significant people within Heritage Roses who have been supportive of our work and have been kind enough to express that support over time.
A copy of the book was gifted to most of the characters in it, and because of the interest it has generated I have donated it to the Heritage Roses New Zealand Inc. Executive to reprint as a fundraiser. I hope that those of you who purchase a copy receive as much pleasure from it as I had researching and writing it.