Of firm opinion, likely to raise his voice and always the gentleman in a hat and tie.
Dogmatic, passionate advocate for the flora and fauna of New Zealand Cockayne is one of the founders of botanical science in an era focused on rare and unusual plants sourced from Africa and Asia. Between 1900 to 1934 some of Cockayne achievements
- In 1927 established Otari Open Air Native Plant Museum at Wilton
- Developed the theory of the natural hybridisation of species as the driving force in evolution
- Collaboration with Harry Howard Barton Allan provided the experimental proof, crossing plants artificially and growing the resulting hybrids in his school and home gardens
- Willingness to share ideas with colleagues and partners such as HHB Allan
- Prolific publisher of articles and reports documenting his observations formed the building blocks for modern science in NZ. “The vegetation of New Zealand,” (1921) was the standard reference for over 70 years.
One of the powerful ‘conservation’ voices for the establishment of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research DSIR Cockayne is one of Aotearoa New Zealand voices for nature.