NPDC sports turf gurus at the top of their game

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Most people only get a close-up view of the work of NPDC’s groundsmen during a pitch invasion.


But if you missed the celebration on the Yarrow’s pitch after Taranaki’s National Provincial Championship victory last month, you might see their influence around Taranaki golf courses in the future.


The region’s top sports turf specialists are in demand as iconic grounds at Pukekura Park and Yarrow Stadium get more exposure during major sporting fixtures.


Hoping to inspire a new generation turf specialists, the council’s parks staff recently took a dozen young agriculture students from Francis Douglas Memorial College on a grassroots introduction to the work to give them a taste of a possible future career.


And the Taranaki Golf Course Superintendents Association, representing about 20 courses around the region, are also set to pick up some tips on how to keep their greens in top condition.


“Keeping our top turf pitches in peak condition helps us deliver first-class sports events for a Sustainable Lifestyle Capital,” said NPDC Parks and Open Spaces Manager Conrad Pattison.


“We’ve just renewed the Pukekura ground’s warrant of fitness from the New Zealand Sports Institute, which we share with New Zealand Cricket, and the main Yarrow’s pitch will soon undergo its annual assessment by New Zealand Turf Management Solutions to see that we’re up to the mark.


“Professional sport is a high-stakes game, so there’s no room for mistakes when first-class sporting events are scheduled to play on them,” said Conrad.


The Central Districts men’s and women’s teams have at least four big fixtures set for Pukekura this summer, while the Yarrow turf is undergoing its annual renovation, involving reseeding, and should be back in service early next year.



  • NPDC has about 1600 hectares of parks and reserves with about 283 hectares (about 700 acres) of grass to mow, but Yarrow Stadium and Pukekura cricket ground need special care.
  • This can involve twice-weekly mowing, constant monitoring for weeds, pests and diseases, aerating the soil and annual turf renovations.
  • Annual assessments of the sports turf look the health of the grass as well as drainage, grass consistency, weed intrusions.
  • NPDC has two groundsmen who have completed four years of training to get a national certificate in sports turf management.
  • Pukekura sports ground was created from swampland in the early 1880s with the first football match played there in 1895 and the first cricket match in 1892.
  • The Yarrow pitch has a “hybrid” turf, which is reinforced with plastic stitching to help it bounce back after big matches.
  • NPDC operates Yarrow Stadium, which is owned by the Taranaki Stadium Trust.

Caption:  NPDC Head Groundsman Craig Hitchcock, left, and Senior Groundsman Aaron Lim mark out the Pukekura cricket ground ahead of this season's games.