Bridge runs over deep gorge with brilliant yellow-leaved trees on either side.
Kawarau Gorge, New Zealand The Kawarau River flows through the gorge. The Kawarau Gorge is a located in Central Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand. © Bernard Spragg, Flickr Creative Commons

Stories in New Zealand

Our Work in New Zealand

The Nature Conservancy is well-positioned to support New Zealand’s efforts to achieve a greater conservation vision for both nature and people.

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New Zealand/Aotearoa has a global reputation as a tourism, lifestyle and agricultural mecca, with snow covered mountains, beautiful beaches, sparkling waters and fertile soils. Having evolved in isolation for over 80 million years, New Zealand/Aotearoa is a global hotspot of biodiversity and is home to a huge array of species found nowhere else on Earth.

New Zealand/Aotearoa was the last large landmass in the world to be settled by humans.  Introductions of invasive species; widespread forest and wetland clearance; increasingly intensive agriculture, horticulture and forestry; residential and commercial development; tourism and population growth and over-use of natural resources have contributed to a stark decline in biodiversity and increasing vulnerability to climate change impacts, social and cultural decline. Over the last 750 years, more than 80 species have become extinct and around 1,000 species of plants and animals are now considered threatened with ongoing population decline and extinction.

But New Zealand has a lot to fight for, and it has a role to play in innovation, community action, conservation science and invasive species management as we face the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change on a global scale.

Underwater shot of live mussels.
Ecosystem Engineers TNC successfully deployed 60 tonnes of mussels into Okahu Bay and we are monitoring the survival and health of the restored reef © Shaun Lee
Flock of sheep in a pasture with snow-covered mountains in the background, all of which are reflected in still water in the foreground.
Country Down-Under New Zealand contains a wide variety of topographies, from glaciers to fiords, mountains to plains, farmland to beaches, rolling hillsides to subtropical forests and many more. © Erik Schrei

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) recognizes the conservation significance of New Zealand. Since 2018, TNC has been working with local and central government, local communities, iwi leaders, businesses and conservation groups on science and technology innovations, capacity building and capability at the community level, funding applications and expertise, strategic leadership and a global perspective on the issues faced.

Our work in New Zealand is driven by a vision of healthy, resilient land, water and oceans, and of thriving communities, cultures and economies. Integral to TNC’s approach is our relationship with Māori, and we acknowledge their standing as key partners and leaders across the conservation sector.

TNC’s science and global conservation expertise offer ways to address the landscape scale challenges ahead through the provision of sustainable food and water, the protection of lands, oceans and waters and through mitigating and adapting to climate change. We offer a suite of solution-focused financial tools for sustainable conservation funding and a commitment to engaging diverse stakeholders around common goals. TNC also works at the government level, as well as the community level, championing change and providing breakthrough tools and ideas.

Our 2023 New Zealand Impact Report

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Our Approach

TNC’s objectives for its work in New Zealand are to:

  • Amplify and share knowledge for more effective conservation management;
  • Develop innovative conservation financing tools;
  • Build capability and capacity in conservation and community leadership;
  • Incentivize behavior change towards sustainable practices, and;
  • Demonstrate projects with the potential for impacts at whole landscape and seascape levels.
Aerial view of Lake Hayes, New Zealand.
Lake Hayes near Queenstown, South Island. © iStock

Work on the Ground

TNC works with local and central government, local communities, iwi leaders, businesses and conservation groups, with a focus on innovative projects that offer significant impacts and can be applied elsewhere.

We work with local conservation groups and organizations to support their mahi and offer the support they need to achieve their outcomes—and more. It is important to TNC that the projects we focus on have the support of manawhenua and the local community, and that we offer long-term benefits to nature and people.

TNC currently oversees a range of projects in both North and South Islands, including a blue carbon pilot; shellfish reef restoration in the Hauraki Gulf; Land for Life – an afforestation and regenerative agriculture project in the Hawke's Bay and the Kotahitanga mō te Taiao Alliance in the top of the South Island.


Aotearoa New Zealand Overview

Leveraging science and Indigenous knowledge to protect natural resources at scale.