New Zealand's Greatest Botanist
Today in 1934, Leonard Cockayne passed away.
Cockayne was 79 years old and is considered New Zealand's greatest botanist.
Cockayne was born in England and was raised in a home that encouraged the exploration and appreciation of the natural world.
As a child, Cockayne loved pressing flowers. In addition to Cockayne, both his brother and sister were great gardeners.
In 1879, Cockayne left England and made his way to New Zealand. Dominion became his home for the remainder of his life.
Ever modest, Cockayne once sent a letter to Kew along with a small parcel of seeds. He attached a little note which said,
"I may say I am not a nursery gardener but merely a private individual who spends his whole time in the study of botany."
In recognition of his 30 years of tireless work in New Zealand, Cockayne won the Darwin metal. During his career, Dr. K Richter von Goebel and John Paulus Lotsy, two distinguished botanists from the UK, visited him in New Zealand. Those visits were true highlights for Cockayne and they inspired him to continue his work.
When he died, Cockayne was buried at the open-air museum he founded, which serves as a lasting memorial. From his grave, one can see the native vegetation which had captured his heart, as well as the heights which bear his name.