Leaving a legacy
WARKWORTH 78B VIV DAVIE-MARTIN DRIVE
Nearly six years ago, Megan Mansfield and her husband Tony Walton were not planning to move. The couple, who work at Kelston Deaf Education Centre — he is head of residential, she is a sign translator — were happily ensconced in a house in Titirangi.
Daughter, Togan, was 10, and there was a raft of family (four kids, five grandchildren between them) who wanted them in Auckland.
“We had a caravan at Pakiri, and were on our way back from getting it ready for Christmas. We just stopped here in Warkworth on our way,” says Megan.
“We had no plan to move to the country. But we saw the house, it had a cool feeling, and a lovely view. We thought if we didn’t move out of Auckland now, it would be too disruptive for Togan. It caused a bit of angst in the family, but now they have enjoyed coming. They love to stay up here.”
The couple appreciated that the Lockwood house, built in 2009, had been beautifully finished and needed no work.
The land, measuring nearly 2 hectares, was bare paddocks, so they saw this as their opportunity to create something.
They’d never landscaped on a large scale so weren’t sure whether they should invest in fencing to run animals and build a great garden.
Megan says that after consulting experts, they were taken by landscaper Peter Worsfold’s advice to choose between animals or a garden. They chose garden, and, with only weekends spare, transformed the property.
In went tall trees, including pohutukawa, avocado and kowhai, to screen the house from the road.
They filled a bank with over 1500 plants (helped by 114 cubic metres of mulch and excellent soil), planted a grove of citrus trees and every variety of pip and stone fruit, so that they can harvest fruit year around.
Closer to the house, Tony built raised beds, with predator fencing.
The property abuts protected native bush, so Tony and Megan have cleared weeds and now delight in the bird life that surrounds them.
Megan laughs that Tony is particular about his woodworking — witness the wonderfully organised workshop in the garage, a lot of the furniture and the
terraced steps and garden beds — but that the house didn’t need any handyman touches.
The couple love the warm wooden tones of the classic Lockwood panelling that provides good insulation and lovely golden light. Megan loves the way her colourful paintings stand out from the background.
The T-shaped house is designed to open every room to the views across rolling hills and the valley. The L-shaped kitchen in the centre of the living space means that the cook can be with people in the tiled family room or the bigger main living room.
There’s a choice of outdoor spaces — the gracious covered veranda off the sitting room or a sunny courtyard (two bedrooms also open off this) provide options whatever the sun/rain/wind are doing.
The couple particularly enjoy the view of the night sky from the high windows in their bedroom — clear, starry nights being a benefit of country living they’d not anticipated. The bathrooms were well-fitted, too, so the house works when family come up from the city for stays.
Proximity to Warkworth town is an easy fiveminute drive or a 30-minute stroll in the summer; and one of Tony’s grandson’s loves heading to the mountain biking in the nearby parks and Dome Valley.
But the couple are ready to ease back their busy lifestyle, so are moving into a smaller place in Warkworth township, leaving the next owners to enjoy their hard work.
“The idea of leaving the land as a legacy for people is important to us,” says Megan. “I spent a lot of time talking to my trees, it’s a bit mad. But we’ve made it easy for the next people to enjoy and maintain.”