Summer update February 2016

Bringing you all the latest news from the Project Crimson Trust.


We hope you have enjoyed a crimson summer!

Newsletter Contents

Schools green ideas come to life

Four winning schools have been selected to receive a $10,000 Treemendous School Makeover this year, a joint initiative between the Mazda Foundation and Project Crimson Trust.

Argyll East School (Hawke's Bay), Discovery School (Whitby), St Joseph’s School (Temuka), and Wyndham School (Southland), will be visited by the Treemendous team for a native tree planting working bee. The schools will each receive an environmentally focused outdoor education space for students to learn and explore.

“It’s always hard to choose just four finalists, and this year was no different as all of the entries were of exceptional standard,” says Andrew Clearwater, Chairman of the Mazda Foundation.

“Students and teachers from around the country came up with new and creative ways to enhance their outdoor learning environments and it was really rewarding to see their appreciation and enthusiasm for the environment.”


You can read more about each school's plans here >>

Help us spread the red

Every year Project Crimson identifies areas throughout New Zealand that have a high need for restoration, and engage local champions to assist us on the ground with revegetation of eco-sourced native trees.


Like any charity however funding is tight. We don't receive any funding from Government and rely solely on the generous support of our partners and donors.  


This year we are running a campaign on Givealittle to help us fund this vital project. A donation as little as $10 will buy a tree which will be planted and looked after by a suitable group in an appropriate location, and support the operation and growth of the Community Restoration Programme.  As a registered charity, all donations are eligible for tax credits.


You can donate here >>

How did your pohutukawa or rata tree look this year?

We’ve had a few people ask us why their pohutukawa or rata trees weren’t so spectacular this year, or were late to bloom.


Typically, heavy flowering by a pohutukawa tree indicates that the next year is likely to be focused on vegetative growth. Given that last year was such a good year for flowering in many places it’s likely that this could be the cause of the reduced display of crimson this summer.


It is a myth that early flowering of trees is a predictor of a “long, hot, summer” – if that was the case we wouldn’t need meteorologists! It is thought that flowering is related to the previous summer’s conditions, but there are so many variables that it can’t be narrowed down to just one factor.


The main thing would be that the trees themselves are healthy, and that they are not being impacted by any potentially harmful issues such as browsing by possums.  


Remember we have lots of resources that can help you identify any potential problems with your trees, you can find them all on our website here >>

Farewell to Devon McLean

In December we farewelled Project Crimson Trustee Devon McLean who stepped down from the Trust after an amazing 25 years of service.


Devon was one of the Trust's principal instigators and visionaries back in 1990 and also served as Chairman for many years. He was also Project Manager for our Living Legends campaign.


He first discovered his love of trees and plants while working on a primary school project on native plants. His was the only herbarium in the shape of a leaf.

Devon's enthusiasm for Project Crimson stemmed from a belief that pohutukawa and rata are a vital part of the New Zealand psyche and landscape. This is never more strongly held than when he is kayaking in the beautiful waters of Golden Bay and the Abel Tasman National Park or sailing deep into the Southern Ocean to view the rata forests of the Auckland Islands.

Devon's "retirement" to Nelson is a little busier than he anticipated as that dream has seen him head an ambitious 30-year project to transform the ecological heart of the Abel Tasman as Project Director for Project Janzoon.  Devon also serves on the Advisory Panel of the Next Foundation.  More than enough work to keep him busy!


We extend our enormous thanks to Devon for his incredible contribution to Project Crimson.


Celebrating the Living Legends project

Project Crimson managed the Living Legends project, an ambitious programme of work that saw over 170,000 native trees planted across 17 locations from 2011 until 2013.


We're excited to share with you this e-book about the project that that tells the story about each planting project, and its associated Rugby Legend.  


Whilst the public planting events wound up in 2013, we have still been working hard at all of the sites undertaking maintenance programmes, and also enabling further plantings at six of the sites - Southland, Ashburton, Kapiti, Hawke's Bay, Taupo and Northland.  These extension plantings will conclude this year, though maintenance will continue by each community conservation group we are working with.


The Living Legends project was only possible with the support or our partners and sponsors. As well as the generous support given by the Tindall Foundation, Living Legends was also supported by major sponsors Meridian Energy and the Department of Conservation . The events were also supported by many local community groups who were actively involved on planting days, and as tree caretakers throughout the year.

DNA profiling helping to save Bartlett's Rata

Rātā moehau is now New Zealand’s most threatened tree, but DNA data are providing a glimmer of hope for the species’ survival.


The late John Bartlett discovered rātā moehau/Bartlett’s rātā in 1975 at Te Paki, a biodiversity hotspot perched at the tip of the North Island. Bartlett was looking for liverworts but instead found a completely new species of rātā.


By 1990, 10 trees had been found across two Te Paki sites – Radar Bush and Kohuronaki.  By 1992, 34 wild trees were documented, which still isn’t many, but it was much better than the 10 previously believed to have existed. Sadly, in 2007, DOC staff found that seven trees at Unuwhao had died from possum browse and several more were seriously defoliated.


Department of Conservation's Principal Science Advisor Peter de Lange and others from DOC have undertaken a field survey and DNA sampling of rātā moehau.  Their purpose was to determine the status of the species in the wild, collect material for DNA analysis, and collect seed for the New Zealand Seed Bank. The DNA profiles of wild plants would be compared with the DNA of cultivated specimens.


The DNA results are alarming. Of the 14 trees in the wild, there are only five distinct genotypes and three of them are known only from Unuwhao. Further, there is no Unuwhao stock in cultivation; all cultivated plants derive from two trees: one from Radar Bush and the other from Kohuronaki. Rātā moehau is now one of the most threatened plants in the world.


Although the results are far worse than we’d anticipated, the DNA data provides some hope for saving the species. DOC now know where the immediate priorities are, and they are working closely with iwi, Muriwhenua Incorporation and Ngā Whenua Rāhui to protect the trees at Unuwhao.


You can read more on Peter's blog here >>

Last chance to grab a $10 Project Crimson tee

We have the very last t-shirts available for sale now on our website. This is it, we won't be doing any more so if you have been wanting one now is the time to buy! Limited sizes available, but all discounted to $10.  


All proceeds help us to plant more pohutukawa or rata trees in community initiatives throughout the country.


You can buy here >>