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New Zealand is encouraging people globally to turn “each 2020 disappointment into hope” in the form of a native tree. 

The campaign, formed by Tourism New Zealand with Trees That Count, asks individuals worldwide to share their 2020 regrets and upsets online, and then turn their situation around by donating a tree. Those who buy a $10 tree will be matched with a local New-Zealander, and will be able to track their tree's journey as it is planted somewhere within Queenstown or Northland, in New Zealand’s North Island. 

The trees will eventually form a “Forest of Hope,” symbolising growth and prosperity for 2021. 

Tourism New Zealand General Manager Sarah Handley hopes donors will be able to see their tree in person once borders open. 

"In New Zealand, the Te Reo Māori values of manaaki and tiaki have become incredibly relevant today. Manaaki speaks to the importance of having empathy and tiaki inspires us to care for people and place," Handley told news publication Travel+Leisure. "While our borders remain closed to international visitors, we want to extend a little manaaki and encourage a sense of tiaki to those who are in need of some optimism for the new year."

CEO of Trees That Count Adele Fitzpatrick says, beyond bringing a little bit of joy back into people’s lives, the campaign will have substantial environmental benefits, including removing Co2 emissions for the atmosphere and protecting local waterways and forests. 

Since the organisation began in 2016, initiatives like the Forest of Hope campaign have seen over 32 million trees planted throughout New Zealand.

Across the next half-century, these native trees will help remove up to 7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air.

"Our partnership with Tourism NZ will enable us to extend our optimism for the environment to audiences outside of New Zealand, with the message that native trees are part of our culture, well-being and future prosperity," Fitzpatrick said. "Native trees are one of the most powerful tools we have available to help fight climate change while protecting our unique biodiversity, and it reinforces existing international visions of Aotearoa as a country of breathtaking natural beauty, outdoor adventure and unique experiences keyed to nature."


Defend the Planet

New Zealand Wants People to Turn Their 2020 Disappointments Into Trees of Hope

By Madeleine Keck