As Aotearoa celebrates Matariki, Z Energy (Z) is marking this particular time in the Māori calendar with Trees That Count, a charity that’s seen over 1.7 million natives planted across New Zealand.
Planting trees, or the whakatō rākau, signifies new life and new beginnings, which is a strong theme throughout Matariki, so Z should be making a $120,000 donation to Trees That Count to mark te tau hou Māori (Māori New Year).
“We’ve had a relationship with Trees That Count for seven years now, and we believe in their work to help restore New Zealand’s biodiversity,” said Abbie Bull, Z’s Head of Sustainability and Community.
“With Matariki being such a special time for Aotearoa, making this donation seemed like a great way to celebrate, not only reaffirming our connection with each other but to our place in the world and our responsibility to care for the environment.”
The heralding of Māori New Year, made an official public holiday for the first time last year, is marked by the rising of the Matariki (Pleiades) star cluster in mid-winter, which falls on July 14th.
Given the significance of tree planting at Matariki, it’s no surprise that this is an exceptional time of year for Trees That Count, which provides a community marketplace matching funders with planting projects. Since 2016, the organisation has supported more than 1200 projects and ensured 1.7 million rākau are planted.
Abbie says the partnership with Trees That Count is directly linked to Z’s environmental sustainability, community commitments and its journey to better understanding and honouring te ao Māori. This is the second year in a row that a significant donation has been made to mark Matariki.
“All these things, climate, people, nature, environment and te ao Māori, are deeply interconnected.”
Bull continued that Trees That Count was a fantastic organisation using innovation, research and experimentation to restore the whenua, which she said was extremely important.
Z has also supported a long-term research project with Trees That Count, looking into the ‘seed islands’ concept. These small areas of intensive planting are aimed at starting the process of regenerating our native forests, and working with nature would remove the need for costly large-scale blanket planting.
Melanie Seyfort, Head of Partnerships and Development at Trees That Count, said Z’s support has made a massive difference in restoring Aotearoa. In the seven years since Z became involved, the Kiwi energy company has funded almost 100,000 trees, which can be found in almost every corner of Aotearoa. This year’s Matariki donation will be channelled into nine different projects nationwide.
“Z was one of our very first corporate supporters, and we have worked on several campaigns with them,” said Seyfort.
She added that Z Energy was bold and willing to support the most significant need rather than pushing its agenda. Restoring biodiversity is a vital step in protecting Aotearoa from further climate destruction.
“Like most countries, New Zealand has suffered a significant biodiversity decline. Intensification of farming, urban sprawl, all these things have played a part. But the interconnectedness of biodiversity loss and climate change creates devastating ecosystem collapse.”
Seyfort explained that it was essential to arrest that and know that places with healthier ecosystems are where biodiversity is thriving. Planting trees on their own isn’t a silver bullet; it has to go hand in hand with pest and predator control and eradication of invasive species.
Matariki is a particularly significant time for the charity, with tree planting meaningful on many levels.
“It’s laying down roots, looking back, and looking forward. Matariki is a lovely celebration for New Zealanders. It’s reflective and grounding, and wholesome. Planting at Matariki is an acknowledgment and a way of giving back.”