Plantings recall Dr Maggie Lawton

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A Wanaka waterway is being restored with $10,000 worth of native trees and plants thanks to the memory of local figure, Dr Maggie Lawton.

Dr Maggie Lawton was a sustainability champion, scientist and Otago regional councillor who died only months after a cancer diagnosis.

Founder and Chief Executive of the Sustainable Business Network (SBN), Rachel Brown, was a friend of Dr Lawton, and set up a fundraising project on the Million Metres website in her memory.

The Million Metres Streams Project aimed to plant a million metres of riparian margins – the strip of land along the edges of natural watercourses that played a role in minimising stream bank erosion.

“Maggie was a mentor and long-time supporter of the Sustainable Business Network and our work.

“When she moved to Wanaka she encouraged me to come visit – that’s when I fell in love with the place, particularly the landscape.

“It just made total sense to have a stream dedicated to the work she so wanted to see happen.

“It’s the least we can do for a woman who gave so much to everyone else,” she said.

Family members and friends were asked to make donations in lieu of flowers, which soon topped $10,000, she said.

Dr Lawton’s daughter, Dr Ella Lawton, said she and her sisters were “blown away” by people’s eagerness to contribute to the memorial.

“We were happy (and relieved) that people could contribute without having hundreds of bouquets of flowers arrive on our doorstep.

The memorial was much more meaningful in her memory, she said.

Te Kakano Aotearoa Trust was managing the project, which involved 500m of new planting at Bullock Creek.

Manager, community development & liaison, Megan Williams, said 170 native plants and trees were planted last winter by volunteers and another 400 plants would be planted this winter. Natives included flax, kanuka, manuka and kowhai.

The family was deciding on the most appropriate memorial for Dr Lawton on the site, she said.

Ella (left) and Maggie Lawton in September 2016. PHOTO: SUPPLIED