2023 AWARD WINNER
Sponsored by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
Eco-Action Nursery Trust collaborates extensively with the Ōtautahi-Christchurch and wider Waitaha-Canterbury community to cultivate partnerships and grow large areas of native forest. These projects sequester carbon and provide food and habitat to attract native birds back into the city.
The Trust was started in 2016 by two teachers who wanted to create learning opportunities for students by taking action in their communities to tackle climate change. Now with a team of five, the Trust is designing systems to enable thousands of people to collaborate.
The Trust’s main initiative has involved setting up 30 satellite nurseries in schools and with community groups. They receive a free kit including up to 5,000 native seedlings along with potting mix, pots, weed mats and irrigation systems. To date, those satellite nurseries have contributed 20,764 volunteer hours growing plants. This year 60,000 plants were propagated – doubling the number grown last year.
The young trees are then planted by teams of volunteers from schools and communities. Together they have contributed more than 8,000 hours and put 44,350 trees into the ground. Previous planting sites flourish in Christchurch’s earthquake-damaged Red Zone and along the QEII Adventure Nature Trail. The first trees are now producing seed that is being collected to grow more plants.
The Trust’s mahi includes mentoring students for presentations to community boards and city councillors to help secure funding and land for future planting, alongside developing their leadership and horticultural skills. This enables young people to drive transformational change within their communities. By taking hands-on action and walking the talk they feel connected and empowered. Students often say that getting their hands dirty and doing something to care for Papatūānuku (Mother Earth) makes them feel more positive about the future.
The judges said: "This is an intergenerational initiative with so much heart. They have collaborated with schools, communities and local authorities to grow native trees, mitigate climate change and provide vital habitat for our native species.
"This collaboration just makes sense. It is an upstream approach to sustainability, both socially and environmentally. It extends beyond schools and includes parents, whanau and the wider community which fosters a strong sense of place and wellbeing. The collaboration has led to significant progress and a transformative impact on the local ecosystem and society."