Caitlyn from Tennent Brown Architects got in touch with us to organise a tree planting session to offset their emissions for the financial year of 2018-19. They had a beautiful spring day, planted 200 trees and enjoyed a day outside as a team. We asked Caitlyn a few questions about the planting.
You have been to Manawa Karioi a few times now, what are your impressions of the place?
I have actually only been twice! The first time was to plant trees on a Sunday and the second time was with Tennent Brown. I was excited to see the marae the first Sunday I went, but sadly the very Sunday I came that first time was the day the marae burnt down.
The group of us planted trees on a hilly track on the other side that day and we could see the smoke from where we were planting. I was very sad about the marae and that I did not get to see it. With Tennent Brown we planted on the other side and my impression was that the bush was lush and verdant with variety in the layers, rather than windswept and exposed as on the hill on the other side.
You could see Home of Compassion from where we were planting. The brick housing and Mother Aubert’s chapel were designed by my director, Hugh Tennent. It is a beautiful, peaceful place to wander through the tracks. We can see the decades of care by Manawa Karioi and that there is still more to be done.
How did your planting session with Tennent Brown Architects come about?
One of my tasks at Tennent Brown Architects is to calculate the carbon footprint for the office for the previous financial year. We have been doing this for the last five years so far actually and you can see some of this here.
I was researching and found that to offset our carbon footprint (and a bit more) for the last financial year we could plant 200 trees. I thought, well our group on Sunday planted 200 trees in a few hours, it is doable. So I suggested to Ewan and Caroline that our firm plant trees at Manawa Karioi and they thought it was a great idea and that is how it came about.
Tell me about your planting session, how was the experience for the group?
I would say it was a hit. We loved getting out of the office, it was such a lovely sunny day and there was no wind. We are used to a sedentary, desk job in front of a screen, so being in a natural setting doing a physical task was a treat and it was great to experience teamwork amongst our colleagues in a different sort of way.
Chris Livesey, our guide, taught us well and was a wonderful host, telling us of the history the place before we set out, demonstrating how to prepare a seedling and inviting us to come back, whether to plant again or to enjoy a walk amongst the native flora and fauna.
Why was it important for Tennent Brown Architects to participate in the restoration project and what do you think the group got out of it?
We as a firm were one of the founding signatories of Architects Declare, which you can see at www.architectsdeclare.nz. It begins, “The twin crises of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss are the most serious issue of our time. Buildings and construction play a major part, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats…” so by planting at Manawa Karioi we feel we can make a positive impact on two things we care deeply about as a firm, climate change and biodiversity loss.
It is about taking responsibility by reducing our carbon footprint where we can and offsetting where we cannot, and showing others that by taking action there is hope to combat our ecological crises. I think the group not only enjoyed the whole exercise, they could see themselves that it did not take much to take charge where most of the news regarding sustainability is wearisome doom and gloom.
I think that they could see themselves coming back to plant again in their spare time, we are an active bunch and it is a way of being active while taking care of nature and future generations at the same time.
Would you recommend the experience for other corporate groups/companies, for what reasons?
Absolutely. The work is not finished at Manawa Karioi. There are carbon calculators available for corporate groups and companies to calculate their office carbon footprint. If everyone takes care of what they have emitted by flights, car travel, bus travel, energy, waste etc. and more we will see the Paris climate goal reached.
By restoring the native bush we will see an increase in biodiversity. Not only that, you will have a great afternoon also.
If you would like to get in touch with us, to talk about how your company could participate in the project please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.