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Our History

Our history began in 1991.

Trees for Survival was established in 1991 as a response to the Rotary International's 1990 year theme of 'Preserve Planet Earth'.

Since then, we've been inspiring children to protect Aotearoa New Zealand by planting native trees.

The aim of the programme was to grow native seedlings to plant on unstable land, to prevent erosion and improve stream flow and water quality, increase native biodiversity and offset carbon emissions. It was also recognized that growing and caring for native trees had significant educational outcomes.

The early stages of our history

Initiated by Pakuranga Rotary Group in 89/90,  a prototype Plant Growing Unit (shadehouse) was designed that became the base of the programme. With several very keen gardeners in the club, they created the team that developed the Trees for Survival programme in New Zealand. The first plant growing unit was installed at the Pakuranga Intermediate School in 1991. 

Auckland City Council soon became interested and assisted with planning the location of the first native tree crop. Our partnership with Auckland Council has been a cornerstone of the Trees for Survival Programme.

Pakuranga College and St Kentigens were the second and third Trees for Survival Schools, with the opening of their planting units attended by Presidents of Rotary International who were visiting New Zealand. Thirty years on, both of these schools are still active Trees for Survival schools.

As well as environmental restoration, beneficial teaching and learning outcomes developed from the Trees for Survival programme. School students developed horticultural skills together with an appreciation of native trees, their role in maintaining healthy environments and the balance which trees bring to the natural habitat.

Parents and the wider community welcomed the opportunity to become involved as volunteers, by helping students and their teachers to grow plants or assisting on planting days. There is also support from local Councils, local businesses and community groups as well as the landowners whose land is improved by the planting programme.

Trees for Survival is a genuine community partnership.

Growth and branching out

By 2002, with 100 schools participating, approximately 350,000 trees had been grown and planted by school students and their helpers. The value of the programme was established in the community and the environmental impact clearly demonstrated. Funding for the programme came from community groups, especially Rotary Clubs, local businesses or schools themselves.

By 2010, students celebrated the achievement of a remarkable milestone by planting the one millionth tree within the programme.

Over the last 30 years, more than 60,000 children have been involved in producing and planting more than two million trees. Many donor organisations have helped to build the success we enjoy today and we are extremely grateful for their generosity and involvement in the Trees for Survival programme.

Trees for Survival is unique to other programmes because it teaches students the whole planting process - from seedlings to potting out to planting - all made possible by our amazing partners. 

Thank you on behalf of those 150,00 children and those who have benefited from stabilised land, clean water and a greener New Zealand.

We are moving to grow this number, so get in touch!

In the Rotary Year 89/90, I had the privilege of being the District Governor for Auckland and the Pacific Islands and during this time I had the opportunity to see many different Rotary Projects. On a visit to Australia, I was made aware of a Rotary programme involved in growing trees from seedlings in plant growing units with school children.

This programme excited me as it involved our youth and the very essential need for trees and the greening of Mother Earth.

Back in our Rotary Club of Pakuranga, we had Peter Taylor (Trustee) who owned Rollformers N.Z. Limited. Peter designed a prototype Plant Growing Unit that became the base of our programme. We also had several very keen gardeners, and together we created the team that developed the Trees for Survival programme in New Zealand."

Noel Holyoake - Founder of Trees for Survival
District Governer, Pakuranga Rotary Club


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