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Keeping memories alive with native trees

It can be hard to know how best to honour family members who have passed away: but Christine Thompson found the perfect way to remember her grandparents, Len and Doris, with native trees.

“I recently and unexpectedly inherited some money from my grandparents, who died back in the late 1970’s when I was a child,” explains Christine. “ I thought it would be lovely to give some of it to a charity that would be close to their hearts.”

Despite living in the city of Portsmouth in England, Christine describes her grandparents as “country lovers”, who would take the family into the country for a walk and perhaps a picnic every weekend. 

“Growing up, we lived around two hours drive from them: about once a month, when the weather was decent, we would all meet ‘halfway’ and have a walk followed by kai. It was amazing the number of lovely places they could find to meet that were about halfway between us,” says Christine. 

“I have strong memories of my granddad always heating up a homemade rice pudding on a camping stove kept in the back of his car.”

When looking for a charity to honour her grandparents’ legacy, Christine wanted to find something that would not only have brought them joy, but also connected with her. 

“As I now live in Aotearoa, a Kiwi charity made sense. Planting native trees ticked both boxes; something that resonates with me and something my grandparents would have absolutely loved. It’s also a small step towards reducing our carbon footprint, and caring for the trees that maintain our natural habitat.”

Christine chanced upon Trees That Count through a Google search—and seeing the charity was supported by the Tindall Foundation and Te Uru Rākau, she felt comfortable that it was a trustworthy cause to entrust with Len and Doris’ legacy.

Through Christine and her family’s generosity, 122 native trees will be planted in her grandparents’ names. Trees That Count has worked with her to match these trees with a meaningful planting project.

“I decided that I would like the trees to be planted by Wakatipu Reforestation Trust,” explains Christine. “We often visit Queenstown, and love walking in that beautiful area.”

“I’m looking forward to one day going for a walk and visiting the trees—maybe with my future grandchildren—and thinking of my childhood walks with my grandparents, among the trees half a planet away.”