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Avon Bonsai Society

A Brief History Of The Avon Bonsai Society


A bonsai demonstration in 1965 by the late Peter McLay of Christchurch New Zealand, kindled an interest in bonsai. Then because bonsai pots at that time were almost unprocurable, pottery lessons were taken at the Risingholme Community Craft Centre in Christchurch and later with the Canterbury Potters Association first in The Arts Centre and later in Memorial Avenue, at the Association's new rooms in the Avice Hill Arts & Craft Centre.

Annual sale days at the Avice Hill Centre with the Canterbury Potters Association saw Alan and Beverley Van selling their pottery (including a few bonsai pots) and displaying one or two of their bonsai. So much interest was shown in the bonsai that the Director of the Craft Centre invited them to run a course on growing bonsai. The first six weeks course started in the third term of 1992 with six people. At the conclusion of the course the suggestion was made that informal meetings be held on bonsai culture. As more people completed their classes and joined the group it was decided a committee would be needed to organise the activities of the expanding group. And so the club came into being in 1993. Alan and Beverley continue to run their classes which have seen many people introduced to the fascination of bonsai growing.


  • Community Arts Expo held at the Horticultural Centre, 1995
  • Exotic Plant Shows 1995-1996
  • Christchurch Blossom Festivals, 1995 & 1996
  • Christchurch "Festival of Flowers", every year since 1995.
  • Hosts of the South Island Bonsai Conference 1996 and National Bonsai Conference in 2003
  • Bonsai display at "THE BIG DAY IN THE BOTANIC GARDENS" every year since 1999
  • Various public displays to promote the awareness of bonsai to the public.
  • Besides the regular monthly club nights, there are various field trips, weekend workshops and occasional visits to other bonsai clubs.
  • Annual conferences are held within New Zealand which club members are encouraged to attend. The club library has an extensive collection of bonsai and bonsai-related books which may be borrowed for one month at a time by financial members of the club. This collection is being continually added to.
  • The first newsletter was issued in 1994, and held its first public Annual Bonsai Competition in 1997.
  • Since its beginning, the club membership has leveled off at a comfortable 35+ with the majority of members coming from the classes.


Besides the experienced members within the club, Avon has been fortunate over the years to have had some excellent teachers, among them being Craig Coussins (UK), Susumu Nakamura (Japan), Dorothy Koreshoff (Australia), Reiner Goebel (Canada), Val Allen (Australia) and Nobuyuki (Nobu) Kajiwara (UK). Also teachers from within New Zealand include, Bob Langholm (Auckland), Joy Morton (Dunedin), Dianne Miller (Hamilton), Jan Burrows (Takaka) Sandra Quintal (Hamilton) and Poppie and Adriaan Engelbrecht (Tauranga).

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