Te Mahere Whakauka / The Hope Project
Sam is Co Founder of Te Mahere Whakauka (The Hope Project) – a unique venture that develops the capacity of whānau, hapū and marae-based enterprises to create regenerative jobs planting trees and growing food.
Prior to this, he started and ran the multi-award-winning charity Sustainable Coastlines. During his twelve years at the helm of Sustainable Coastlines they grew into a globally recognised movement that inspires, educates and enables communities to protect the places they love.
This included delivering educational programs to 222,127 people with excellent longitudinal impact based on the opinions of professional psychologists. They also motivated over 100,000 participants to remove more than 1.5 million litres of rubbish from the coast and planted over 160,000 native trees along our waterways.
Sustainable Coastlines has picked up the most prestigious environmental award in Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Oceania award for Sport and the Environment from the International Olympic Committee. In 2013 he was named Young New Zealander of the Year and in 2018 picked up the most prestigious environmental award for youth on the planet – The Energy Globe Awards – out of over 2,000 submissions from 178 countries.
Sam is a qualified lawyer and also holds a degree in Political Studies. For five years he wrote a weekly column for the New Zealand Herald website as their sole contributor on the environment, bringing environmental issues and solutions to millions of readers.
Sam is passionate about pathways to rehabilitation of offenders. He has led over 200 days with Community Service workers – work which was recognised with an award from the New Zealand Department of Corrections. This experience has become a platform for him to develop several programs that motivate prisoners to gain qualifications while helping communities and the environment.
Two years ago he built the Flagship Education Centre in the Wynyard Quarter – which he is working to certify this as the most sustainable building in New Zealand – a ‘living building’.
Sam helped local a local indigenous community set up a marae based charity- Pūniu River Care – and chaired the group for the first 3.5 years. They now have 30 young Māori staff and the capacity to plant 500,000 native stems in 2020. They are happy, healthy and successful.
He is now working to develop the capacity of marae-based social enterprises at scale - to plant millions of native trees/plants in collaboration with prison nurseries, labour from community-based offenders and multiple local and government partners to improve wellbeing for people by creating jobs for those who need them most. This will also involve sustainable prefabricated housing with open-sourced design and naturally durable timber, to address the housing affordability crisis New Zealand is facing.
The project is designed to deliver outcomes in physical health, mental health, recidivism, benefit dependency, water quality, biodiversity, carbon sequestration and cultural health indicators. It is being built to be replicable internationally, so that it can roll out across developing countries initially, then worldwide.
He remains passionate about the ocean and enjoys surfing, spearfishing and swimming with his 8 year-old daughter Juliette.
Regenerating Communities with Green Infrastructure & the Benefits of Connecting People to Nature
Tues 10 Nov, 09:45 – 10:30
Trees give us far more than just shade and shelter. Sam will outline the true value that nature can provide for communities and explain his inspiring vision for scaling up the establishment of native and mixed-model forest planting so that future generations can benefit from our work today.
This will include outlining fresh evidence for further investment to go into the arboriculture sector by outlining the importance that trees play for the wellbeing of people, the economy and the environment.
He will explain the important role that forests and urban trees play for Māori communities. This will include case studies of how all of us who are passionate about trees can experience the joy of understanding the deep spiritual connection that Tangata Whenua have with nature by encouraging effective partnership and fostering regenerative enterprise through knowledge sharing and good, hard work.
Within this talk, there will be an opportunity to learn about the innovative ways that arboriculture can improve the viability of land improvement alongside sustainable value creation through a strategy he describes as ‘intergenerational equity’ – establishing practical ways that afforestation can generate cultural, social, natural and financial capital across Aotearoa/New Zealand.