Matariki Tu Rākau funding for memorial tree planting

Your community can apply for funding to plant trees as living memorials to honour New Zealand’s heroes. Applications for 2022 are open.

Video – Huramua Marae planting day (1.48)

Matariki Tu Rākau: living memorials

Matariki Tu Rākau is part of the One Billion Trees Programme. It is to help people plant living memorials that honour members of their communities who have:

  • made practical change through their efforts
  • brought distinction to New Zealand through their work
  • enhanced New Zealand's reputation in their area or activity.

As at June 2021, the Matariki Tu Rākau Programme has supported the planting of more than 160 living memorials nationwide, through 130 applications. More than 660,000 trees have been planted at 250 planting events since the programme started in 2018.

Applications are open now for 2021 and 2022 planting.

What funding is available? 

Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service provides funding for trees (preferably native trees) to be planted on suitable land that is accessible to the public or iwi. This includes:

  • parks
  • places of remembrance
  • schools
  • marae.

Applications will be considered for a planting area of less than 1 hectare. Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service will provide funding through community groups, schools, councils, the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Associations (RNZRSA), and marae.

For their Matariki Tu Rākau project, local communities decide:

  • 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 celebrated 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.

For more information, email

How to apply for Matariki Tu Rākau funding

To take part, contact your local council, RNZRSA, or marae to find out if they have planned anything for your area.

If nothing is planned, you can get things started. Complete the application form – it covers all the details that need to be arranged.

Matariki Tu Rākau Grant application form [DOCX, 84 KB]

Funding for schools

If you're a school and want to take part complete this application form.

Matariki Tu Rākau Grant application form for schools [DOCX, 79 KB]

Our guide will help you tell your community about your plans

We've created a communications guide to help you spread the word and get your community involved.

Matariki Tu Rākau communications guide [PDF, 314 KB]

Matariki Tu Rākau Commemorative Tree Planting in Your Community brochure [PDF, 332 KB]

What you need to know to apply for funding

How much funding to ask for

The application form gives details of how much you can apply 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 including clearance and maintenance (at Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service's discretion).

What type of planting event is eligible

Local events and plantings will ideally be organised by the community. They will represent a fitting expression of local heroes who have served their community. This can be as simple or elaborate, and as casual or formal, as you want.

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

Suitable trees to plant

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

How many trees to plant

The number of trees you can plant 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 as part of the Government's One Billion Trees Programme. Plantings will become part of the living salute trail around New Zealand.

What memorial tree plantings should be like

The site, design, and setting are up to your local community.

The priority is that the planted trees and area remain permanently accessible to the public or iwi, and it continues to be maintained. Possible locations could be:

  • in public parks or reserves
  • civic centres
  • marae/hapū land
  • along prominent roads and avenues
  • schools
  • near existing memorials.

History of the Matariki Tu Rākau Grant

The Government announced Matariki Tu Rākau on Anzac Day, 25 April 2018. The first tree plantings and local community-led celebrations began during Matariki (Māori New Year) 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. There will be a number of Matariki Tu Rākau events between 2018 and 2020.

Over the 3 years, Matariki Tu Rākau plantings will create a national trail of living salutes for service men and women of the Defence Force that complement our time-honoured war memorials. They will be places where whānau, communities, and visitors can visit in years to come to reflect and appreciate the work and sacrifices of our service people.

In October of 2019, Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service (Forestry New Zealand) extended the commemorative nature of Matariki Tu Rākau to include other commemorative projects. For example, applications can be submitted to commemorate those who have demonstrated innovation, entrepreneurship, improved the lives of others, or exemplified selfless voluntary service. These can include Māori leaders, philanthropic contributors, writers, artists, and others.

Video – Matariki Tu Rākau Huramua Marae Planting Day 2020 (4.52) – YouTube

Video – Matariki Tu Rākau Puhinui Planting Day 2018 (3.41) – YouTube

Video – Matariki Tu Rākau Puhinui Planting Day 2018 (1.24) – YouTube

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