Matariki Tu Rākau

Matariki Tu Rākau is helping communities to plant living memorials honouring our New Zealand Defence Force members, past and present. Find out how to take part.

Celebrating those who serve our country

The Government announced Matariki Tu Rākau on Anzac Day, 25 April 2018. It's an opportunity for communities to plant trees to recognise the service of men and women of the New Zealand Defence Force, past and present. Tree plantings and local community-led celebrations began during Matariki 2018.

The programme is one of a series of initiatives around the country to mark the 100-year anniversary of the end of the First World War. We expect up to 350,000 trees to be planted through Matariki Tu Rākau events between 2018 to 2020.

Communities creating local projects that will last

Matariki Tu Rākau plantings will create living memorials to complement our time-honoured war memorial monuments. They will be public places where whanau, communities, and visitors, can reflect on the work and sacrifices of our service personnel.

Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) will provide funding for trees (preferably indigenous trees) to be planted on suitable land that's accessible to the public. We'll provide funding through community groups, councils, the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Associations (RNZRSAs), and marae.

For their Matariki Tu Rākau project, local communities decide together:

  • where to plant
  • what to plant
  • who will prepare and maintain the planting areas
  • how to celebrate their living memorial as it begins, and in the future
  • how to get the local community involved.

Matariki is in June to July, near the middle of the planting season for most of the country. The rising of the constellation of Matariki marks a traditional time of harvest, thanksgiving, and remembrance celebrated as the Māori New Year.

Take part in Matariki Tu Rākau

To get involved, contact your local council, RNZRSA, or marae to find out if they have planned anything for your area, or to get things started. The application form covers all the details that need to be arranged.

Download the Matariki Tu Rākau application form [PDF, 183 KB]

We expect you to promote planting events locally to ensure your whole community has the opportunity to participate. We have created a communications guide and some resources to help.

How much funding to ask for

Funding will vary depending on the number of trees to be planted and the size of your event.

We’ll provide funding for:

  • trees
  • a commemorative plaque or a contribution to signage
  • a contribution to costs of facilitating community-wide planting events – at our discretion.

What type of event is eligible

Local events and plantings will ideally be co-designed by the community and include a fitting expression of the local community past and present – it may be as simple or elaborate and as casual or formal as you wish.

Invitations will be open to your whole community – children, families, descendants of past service men and women and those new to the community.

Suitable trees to use

Trees should be appropriate species for healthy permanent plantings at your chosen site. We prefer native species, particularly if appropriate to the region, but you can plant other species that are significant to the community.

How many trees to plant

The number of trees is up to your community, and depends on the site you have available. It may be a handful or hundreds.

The number of trees planted and their location will be recorded and made publicly available. This will become part of the living salute trail around New Zealand and the government’s One Billion Trees Programme.

What should plantings be like?

The site, design and setting is up to your local community. Keep in mind that these plantings will also form part of our national commemorations of the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War in 1918.

The priority is that trees are planted, the planting remains permanently accessible to the public, and it continues to be maintained. Possible locations could be:

  • in public parks or reserves
  • civic centres
  • along prominent roads and avenues
  • near existing memorials.

Te Uru Rākau will provide (or fund) a commemorative plaque to mark the sites of significant plantings. 

Who's behind Matariki Tu Rākau

Matariki Tu Rākau is part of the One Billion Trees programme and is delivered through Te Uru Rākau. The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Associations and New Zealand Defence Force are partners.

The development of the programme was also supported by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Ministry of Defence, Te Puni Kōkiri and Local Government New Zealand.

Find out more

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