A car company and environmental charity don’t seem the most natural of partners: but Mazda New Zealand has environmental good at the heart of its values. Since 2004, they’ve worked with Project Crimson (the charity behind Trees That Count) to generate good outcomes for native planting and local communities.
A TREEmendous impact
In 2007, the Mazda Foundation approached Project Crimson searching for just the right project: a hybrid of successful environmental education and meaningful engagement with local communities. Meanwhile, Project Crimson was looking to meet ever-increasing demand for environmental education programmes and needed funding to deliver.
Hence, TREEmendous, now in its 15th year, was born: and over fifty Aotearoa schools have benefitted from the programme.
The TREEmendous initiative initially focused on low-decile schools. However, it has broadened over the years to become a programme that offers outdoor area makeovers, featuring native trees, to all primary and intermediate schools in New Zealand. It helps teachers to develop an environmental education programme that benefits both students and, by extension, the wider community.
“Over the years we have found that many schools needed more than one area of their school to create outdoor learning experiences. We saw opportunities to turn the whole school area into a learning environment, helping increase environmental literacy significantly,” says Ruud Kleinpaste, TREEmendous Ambassador and Project Crimson Trustee.
The Mazda team takes an active part in delivering the TREEmendous programmes, with members from Mazda’s head office and local Mazda dealerships as well as Mazda Foundation Trustees attending the TREEmendous Events all over the country. They assist with everything from digging holes to serving morning tea and slicing onions for the famous post-event sausage sizzle. As of 2021, the format has changed to become the TREEmendous Education Programme delivered to schools via Ruud Kleinpaste and Dr Riley Elliott with the Mazda Foundation.
A new era: Trees That Count
With the Trees That Count online native tree marketplace launching in 2018, Mazda was one of the first major funders to come aboard, funding 25,000 native trees for planting nationwide in that year.
Since 2018, Mazda has supported 170 projects with 76,450 native trees, helping to sequester around 17,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide, restore biodiversity, improve waterways, restore and highlight places of cultural and historical significance, and bring communities together.
“Mazda has become an important part of the Trust’s mission, as our longest partnership,” says Melanie Seyfort, Head of Partnerships for Project Crimson Trust. “Our work together has evolved over the years to match the needs of both organisations, and has become an even deeper, more focused partnership through Trees That Count.”
In 2020, to celebrate Mazda’s Centenary, for every 100th Anniversary Edition vehicle sold, Mazda purchased 50 trees from Trees That Count. Over each of the vehicles’ five-year warranty term, these 50 trees will not only minimise environmental impact from CO2 emissions, but they will significantly contribute to the ecosystems in which they’re planted in every region of the country.
A team that’s going places
Mazda originally approached Project Crimson to offer vehicle sponsorship: which turned out to be an invaluable tool for the Trust.
“The vehicles have allowed us to take our messages out to communities: and, of course, to make it to even the most remote locations to meet with our planters, host planting events, or transport plants or seedlings,” explains Melanie.
While originally adorned with pōhutukawa as an emblem of Project Crimson and to promote pōhutukawa and rātā, in 2020 the cars received an update to align with the partnership’s growth.
“Mazda’s key work is now carried out in line with our programme Trees That Count, which focuses on fostering a love for and growth of all Aotearoa’s native species” says Melanie.
The Trust is thrilled to have the use of a Mazda BT-50 and CX-9, which now proudly promote Trees That Count with signature native tree and bird decals.
“Not only are they valuable to the Trust from a practical perspective, but Mazda’s generosity helps us to bring a strong awareness of the work that we do wherever we go,” Melanie notes.