A public protest with an unusual culinary twist! "Weird and Wonderful" series created by DigitalNZ's Community Manager exploring the fun and eccentric parts of our history.
In 1978 a public protest took a turn to the bizarre when New Zealand contemporary artist Barry Thomas took to a vacant lot in central Wellington to protest the lack of park space in the central city.
The site on the corner of Willis and Manners Streets in Wellington had formerly been the site of The Roxy Cinema, which closed in 1974 then later demolished to make way for what is now the Duke's Arcade.
Having sat empty for two and a half years - Thomas and friends organised the protest took the form of an "urban garden" - in which Thomas and his friends cut through a wire fence, delivered a truck-load of top-soil and planted 180 cabbages on the site.
The cabbage patch was organised as a protest of the site being turned into another mundane commercial building. Thomas called on Wellingtonians to make the space their own, and the site was filled with a range of out-of-place items, including and IBM computer, a lounge suite and a brightly coloured tricycle. It quickly became home to informal meetings, pop up performances, events and arts activities.
Although the City Council cleared a lot of the items from the site for health and safety reasons, the cabbage patch remained for about six-months.
In June - with the help of many volunteers, the site was planted out with native trees and plants and murals painted by students from Wellington College. Thomas and friends organised an arts festival called The Last Roxy Show which featured live performances and organisers giving away free coleslaw!
The festival ended with Thomas donning a Cassock he found in an op-shop and ceremoniously burning the cabbages.
In 2012, documentation from The Cabbage Patch was placed into the archives at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and along with items from other content partners such as the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the Alexander Turnbull Library - you can find images, stories and more about Barry Thomas and The Vacant Lot of Cabbages / The Cabbage Patch through Digital NZ.