The Kiwi Botanist
1934 Today is the anniversary of the death of the great English-Kiwi botanist Leonard Cockayne.
Leonard died when he was 79 years old. Today he is regarded as New Zealand's most celebrated botanist.
Leonard was born in England and was raised to explore and appreciate the natural world. As a child, Leonard loved pressing flowers. In addition to Leonard, both his brother and sister were great gardeners.
In 1879, Leonard left England and made his way to New Zealand. Dominion became his home for the remainder of his life. Ever modest, Leonard 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, Leonard won the Darwin medal. Looking back on Leonard's career, Dr. Richter von Goebel and John Paulus Lotsy, two distinguished botanists from the UK, visited him in New Zealand. Those visits were real highlights for Leonard, and they inspired him to continue his work.
When he died, Leonard 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.