New Zealand invites people to plant a tree to turn disappointment of 2020 into Forest of Hope

As one of the first countries to see in 2021, the New Zealand campaign will represent a brighter new year

New Zealand's Forest of Hope invites people to turn their 2020 disappointment into a positive by planting trees in two new forests on the country's North and South islands. Courtesy Tourism New Zealand
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By all standards, 2020 has been something of a disappointment.

From cancelled holiday plans and postponed weddings, to graduating via Zoom and the end of hugging as we know it, the global pandemic has left a trail of sadness in its wake.

Forest of Hope is a way to say goodbye to this year's disappointments with a seed of hope

Thankfully, we have New Zealand to show us the way out of all this doom and gloom.

Not only has the country been effective in battling the coronavirus, it's now setting the tone for a brighter 2021 by inviting people to donate a tree to its Forest of Hope.

Tourism New Zealand has partnered with conservation charity Trees that Count to ask people to plant the seeds for new native forests on the country's North and South Islands.

"As we get ready to say goodbye to 2020, what a disappointing year it's been for so many," begins the video created by Tourism New Zealand. "It's time to look forward to 2021.

"Right now, we can’t share our beautiful country as we normally would, but we can still add to its beauty and the health of the environment. Once we’re able to welcome visitors again, you can visit your tree that you helped grow."

New Zealand is among the first countries in the world to ring in the new year, and the project aims to get things off on a positive note with new forests being planted in parts of Northland and Queenstown.

Funded by trees gifted by people around the world, donators are being asked to use their frustrations from 2020 to create a brighter year in 2021, and to help sow the seeds for a better future.

Tree donations start from NZD$10 ($7) per tree and can be submitted on the Trees that Count website.

Those donating are asked to write down their biggest disappointment of the year and will also have the option to name their tree, with any given names displayed on maps of the new forests created by Trees that Count.

Te Reo Maori values

Sarah Handley, general manager for Americas and Europe at Tourism New Zealand, explained more about the native values behind the campaign in a statement.

A native kauri tree in New Zealand's Northland. Courtesy James Heremaia
A native kauri tree in New Zealand's Northland. Courtesy James Heremaia

"In New Zealand, the Te Reo Maori 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," said Handley.

"While our borders remain closed to international visitors, we wanted to extend a little manaaki and encourage a sense of tiaki to those who are in need of some optimism for the new year. With trees as a natural symbol of life and growth, the Forest of Hope is a way for people to say goodbye to this year’s disappointments and plant a seed of hope to look forward to better times ahead in 2021."