Austen was a true English gentleman with an extensive knowledge of New Zealand weeds and the most appropriate herbicides against them!
In the early 1990’s he, along with Jack McKenzie, Betty Harris and Jim Duckworth, was instrumental in convincing Manukau City Council to purchase the land which became the Mangemangeroa Reserve. He understood the need to protect the coastal strip of native bush beside the estuary and was instrumental in getting public access to the reserve, via the kissing gate in 1999.
For many years Austen took an active interest in the reserve, both serving on the committee and imparting his wealth of knowledge in regard of the best way to deal to weeds. In recognition of his role in the founding of the reserve his granddaughter Olivia and family proudly planted a kowhai near Betty’s Seat at “The Friends Lookout”.