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Miriama’s rose translates into books

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The Amoré ladies: Briony Nash, Janette and Melanie Barnett. Photo: Supplied.

Mike Dreaver was quite specific when four years ago he asked Hamilton’s Amoré Roses to create a rose for his wife, television presenter Miriama Kamo. 

It had to be brown and a climber, he told owner Jan Barnett. Last month Kamo was at the company’s Newstead premises for the annual open day where the rose was launched. 

Proceeds from sales of the Miriama Kamo rose go to the couple’s Kotahi Rau Pukapuka Trust which translates books written in English to Māori. 

Catholic bishop Steve Lowe, a family friend of Kamo’s from Christchurch, blessed the rose and gave a reading from St Matthew. 

For Jan it was yet more proof that she and husband Paul made the right decision when they pursued the opportunity to become rose importers. 

The Barnetts were in Osaka, Japan in 2006 – she had written the successful citation to the World Rose Federation to have Hamilton Gardens’ rose garden given a garden of excellence award and he was at a property conference. 

Jan has been fascinated by roses since she was a girl and went on to become a national rose judge. Paul is less knowledgeable so when he met acclaimed American rose breeder Frank Bernadella at the bar one night, he had no idea of what a legend he was with. 

Bernadella, who has since died, was complaining that he could not get his award-winning miniature roses into New Zealand. 

Paul said he would see what he could do. 

On their return, Jan and Paul set up a business to import and quarantine the plants. Originally it was to be established rose growing firms which would get the roses to market but delays in getting quarantine units set up left Jan on her own. 

They sold their retirement beach home, bought several hectares in Vaile Road, Newstead and set about getting the new roses into circulation. 

Seven years later there are now some unique and beautiful varieties of Amoré Roses released in New Zealand about the same time as Europe. 

Jan has breeders from Belgium, Australia, Germany, France, Netherlands, Canada, Ireland and America. 

“We all think she is awesome and will do really well. She talks about being a boutique business but if the New Zealand public want to see beautiful roses in their garden no matter how small the garden, then Jan could be very busy,” said Paul, a successful project manager and property developer for nearly 40 years. 

Jan recently picked up three awards for her roses – children’s choice, hybrid tea and most fragrant – at the Pacific Rose Bowl Festival in the Rogers Rose Garden at Hamilton Gardens beating out roses from around the world. 

Some of Jan’s roses are perfumed, some are small bushes but with big flowers, some are almost thornless, some striped, some speckled but all are disease tolerant. 

“The beauty of these roses is that they bring colour into the garden and can also fit into small apartment gardens,” said Paul. 

Their daughters Briony and Melanie are now co-directors and help in the business. 

Miriama Kamo, who now has her own rose, at Amoré Rose’s open day. Photo: Supplied.

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About Author

Mary Anne Gill

Putāruru-born Mary Anne Gill is one of Waikato’s most experienced communications and public relations practitioners. She has won several national writing gongs including three times at the Qantas and twice at the Voyager media awards.