New Zealand Is Inviting People Around the World to Turn Their 2020 Disappointments Into a Forest of Hope
To say 2020 has been a year full of disappointments is an understatement, but New Zealand is hoping to turn those sour lemons into sweet lemonade just in time for the beginning of 2021. As the first country to ring in the New Year (thanks to its time zone), New Zealand is hoping to inspire some positivity for 2021 with its Forest of Hope campaign.
From cancelled weddings and postponed vacation plans to job furloughs and more, Tourism New Zealand wants people from around the globe to share their misfortunes of 2020 online. For every disappointment shared, consumers are invited to put a positive spin on their situation by donating a tree in the Forest of Hope. This new forest of native trees will represent hope and regrowth for the new year ahead, Sarah Handley, General Manager for Americas and Europe at Tourism New Zealand, told Travel+Leisure.
“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 says. “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.”
Tourism New Zealand has teamed up with Trees That Count, a New Zealand conservation charity, to launch the Forest of Hope initiative, which will plant the trees in Queenstown and Northland. Founded in November 2016, Trees That Count has a vision to help plant 200 million native trees across New Zealand by creating a community marketplace to connect tree funders to tree planters—like in the Forest of Hope. Through the Trees That Count website, people who donate a tree (or several) can track their journey online and will receive an email notification once their tree has been planted. Representatives from both Tourism New Zealand and Trees That Count say they hope that donors will one day visit the trees they’ve helped plant.
For Trees That Count CEO Adele Fitzpatrick, this campaign is also about more than just hope for the New Year. It’s about the future in general and how connected that is to nature.
“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, wellbeing and future prosperity,” Fitzpatrick says. “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.”
To share your disappointments of 2020 and donate a tree, visit newzealand.com/hope.
Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.