Leav­ing a legacy

Herald on Sunday - - HERALD ON SUNDAY HOMES - By Cather­ine Smith


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.”


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