Michael (Mike) Oates
Mike Oates was born in 1955 at Bishop Auckland, County Durham, England. Before moving to New Zealand, he obtained a Bachelor's degree at University of Reading, during which time he had a summer job in Jack Drake's Nursery that focused on New Zealand alpine plants. This led to his interest in coming to New Zealand in 1977 on a six-month permit, where he met his future wife, Sarah. They later married and now have 2 children.
He returned to New Zealand in 1981 and worked as a horticulture tutor at the Technical Correspondence Institute.
In 1991 he started working for Wellington City Council as the Curator and manager for all the Botanic gardens in Wellington. Ray Mole had been the last curator at Otari/Wilton’s bush and that role became subsumed into the one Curator role. In 1992 Mike was involved in the celebration of the Botanic Garden Heritage Project, the result of which was the book, The Botanic Garden Wellington, written by Winsome Shepherd and Walter Cooke Botanic Garden, Heritage Project.
Mike had always had a keen interest in the way plants were used in design and space. Consequently, the initiatives he was involved in during his time in the role largely focused on the development of many spaces in the Botanic Garden and other parks. These developments included the development of the visitors' centre Parks and Reserves: Botanic Garden: Botanic Garden Education and Environment Centre [Bgeec]: Redesign of Centre, construction of the canopy walkway, and the redevelopment of the Cable Car lookout area in 1995 Botanic Gardens - Cable car area - Entrance, with improved signage and upgraded facilities.
In 1997 the Botanic Gardens of Wellington Advisory Board was established. This was responsible to the Botanic Gardens Curator / Manager. This was a busy year for Mike Oates with the redevelopment of the Duck Pond area Parks and Reserves: Botanic Garden: Duck Pond and the re-purposing of the curator's house as well. He was an integral part of the decision around the renaming of the Otari-Wilton Bush, his suggestion being taken up in 1999 Gardens - Otari Native Botanic Gardens & Wilton's Bush Reserve - Renaming. In 2001, another popular space, the Botanic Garden Playground, was improved under Mike Oates’ guidance.
Mike continued to play a role in Wellington City Council in various aspects of environmental planning since finishing his time as Curator.
Management Planning & Reporting - Strategic - Reviews of services & delivery - Wellington Botanic Gardens
Parks and Reserves: Botanic Garden: Botanic Garden Education and Environment Centre [Bgeec]: Redesign of Centre