Leonard Cockayne

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Leonard Cockayne (left) with MP Harry Ell in 1904.

Leonard Cockayne FRS[1] (7 April 1855 – 8 July 1934) is regarded as New Zealand's greatest botanist and a founder of modern science in New Zealand.[2]


He was born in Sheffield, England where he attended Wesley College. He travelled to Australia in 1877 and shortly moved on to New Zealand where he became established as a botanist.

In June 1901, he attended the first conference of horticulturists in New Zealand at Dunedin where he presented a paper on the plants of the Chatham Islands and advocated the establishment of experimental plant research stations in New Zealand. This helped to establish Cockayne's reputation.

Cockayne was a member of the 1907 Sub-Antarctic Islands Scientific Expedition. The main aim of the expedition was to extend the magnetic survey of New Zealand by investigating Auckland and Campbell Islands but botanical, biological and zoological surveys were also conducted. The voyage also resulted in rescue of the castaways of the shipwreck the Dundonald in the Auckland Islands.

Cockayne's major contributions to botany were in plant ecology and in his theories of hybridisation. In 1899 he published the first New Zealand account of successional changes in vegetation. Between 1897 and 1930 he published 49 papers in the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand.[3]

He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1912 on the proposal of Sir J. D. Hooker and was awarded the Hector Memorial Medal in that same year. In 1914 he was awarded the Hutton Memorial Medal.

The Cockayne Reserve in Christchurch, the Cockayne Nature Walk[4] near Otira on the West Coast, and the Cockayne Lookout in Otari-Wilton's Bush (Wellington) dedicated solely to New Zealand native plants, are all named after him.



  1. ^ Hill, A. W. (1935). "Leonard Cockayne. 1855-1934". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 1 (4): 442. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1935.0008.  edit
  2. ^ Thomson, A.D. "Biography of Leaonard Cockayne". The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New Zealand 1868-1961". National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 26 September 2011. 
  4. ^ ledzep (5 December 2010). "Cockayne Nature walk". Tracks. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  5. ^ "Author Query for 'Cockayne'". International Plant Names Index. 

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