Celebrating Matariki at Z Energy: Supporting Trees That Count

July 12, 2023


As Aotearoa celebrates Matariki, Z Energy (Z) is marking this special 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 te whakatō rākau – signifies new life and new beginnings, which is a strong theme throughout Matariki, so it’s fitting that Z is 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 really believe in the work they’re doing to help restore New Zealand’s biodiversity,” says Abbie Bull, Z’s Head of Sustainability and Community. “With Matariki being such a special time for Aotearoa, making this donation seemed like a really 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 – which was 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 this year falls on July 14.  

Given the significance of tree planting at Matariki, it’s no surprise that this is a particularly special 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 and community commitments, as well as 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,” says Abbie. “And Trees That Count are a fantastic organisation. They’re using innovation, research and experimentation to restore the whenua, which is so important.” 

Z has also lent its support to a long-term research project with Trees That Count, looking into the concept of ‘seed islands’. These small areas of intensive planting are aimed at starting the process of regenerating our native forests, and by working with nature would remove the need for costly large-scale blanket planting. 

Melanie Seyfort, Head of Partnerships and Development at Trees That Count, says Z’s support is making a huge difference when it comes to 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 all over the country. 

“Z was one of our very first corporate supporters and we have worked on a number of different campaigns with them,” says Melanie. “They’re bold and willing to support the greatest need rather than pushing their own agenda. They’re like, ‘What do you need and where can we provide you with the greatest impact?’” 

Melanie says restoring biodiversity is a vital step in protecting Aotearoa from further climate destruction. 

“Like most countries, New Zealand has suffered significant biodiversity decline. Intensification of farming, urban sprawl… all these things have played a part. But it’s the interconnectedness of biodiversity loss and climate change that creates devastating ecosystem collapse. It’s important to arrest that, and we know that places with healthier ecosystems are where biodiversity is thriving. Planting trees on its own isn’t a silver bullet, it has to go hand in hand with pest and predator control and eradication of invasive species, but it’s really, really important.” 

And Melanie says Matariki is a particularly significant time for the charity, with tree planting meaningful on many levels.  

“It’s that opportunity to be laying down roots, looking back and looking forward. Matariki is such a lovely celebratory occasion for New Zealanders. It’s reflective and grounding, and wholesome. The whenua provides for all of us, so planting at Matariki is an acknowledgement of that and a way of giving back.”