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Race against time to save New Zealand’s heritage seeds

Save our seeds

Kia Ora members and friends! We need your help to save our New Zealand organic heritage Seed and Tree collection by 31st  January 2014. We are asking for your support via our Adopt a Square Metre campaign to secure the land the New Zealand organic heritage seed collection grows on before we lose it.

 Background: 30 years of organic heritage seed saving

Koanga Institute founded by Kay Baxter has spent 30 years building  up a living library comprising of hundreds of heritage fruit and vegetables that are in danger of extinction and being lost. In 1994 the UN estimated that 94 percent of vegetables and 85 percent of apple varieties have already been lost. The Koanga Institute a registered charitable trust in New Zealand has saved 800+ seed lines and 400+ fruit trees and berries varieties. Some of these lines have international importance, particularly the corn collection, which is one of the largest collections not affected by genetic engineering, came here with our ancestors. This collection has many ecological and nutritional characteristics that will be invaluable for the future of regenerative agriculture and our health in New Zealand.  The home for this collection is in Wairoa, Northern Hawkes bay on leased land.  3 years ago Koanga Institute found the right land to literally and figuratively plant our roots. This land has:

  • good soils and  water, a great climate for growing seeds,

  • enough area for our collections, growing areas, forest gardens, isolation gardens and nursery,

  • isolation from horticulture and GE crops,

  • a large farmhouse, and several sheds, enough area to add several small cabins for interns and staff accommodation in the future,

  • a supportive community around us, the potential to develop a full campus to train future seed savers and gardeners to care for the next generations of heritage seeds and support regenerative agriculture in other communities,

The Challenge: Land to be sold from under organic heritage seed and tree collection

Koanga Institute leases both the land it currently holds the heritage organic seed and tree collection on and the hill block land which supplies all of the water.  It needs to buy both to secure the future of the collection. The landowners want to sell the property now and clear their debts. Local forestry companies who use toxic spray are interested in buying the land to place it in monoculture forestry, an industrialized system. There will be no room for an organic heritage seed and tree collection. The landowners have agreed to hold off until the 30th   of June to sell as long as we can prove we are steadily bringing in the money required i.e. $705.000.

 The consequences:

We either need to buy the land or move. The latest 'growout' of our New Zealand heritage organic seed collection will be ready to be harvested in June 2014. This can not be moved before this time and we cannot afford to lose it. In addition our collection of fruit trees cannot be shifted without losing a lot. We believe that it is better to buy the land and secure the future of the collection rather than trying to rent/ lease again because:

  • We have made a huge investment in time and money in developing the gardens and soils to a point where they are producing high quality seeds. It would take at least another 5 years to get to this stage again if all went well.

  • We spent several years finding this property with the characteristics that we needed. It is not easy to find another one and it is likely to cost a similar amount to have all the characteristics we need for healthy trees and seeds.

  • It will cost a lot to shift and set up again elsewhere and there is no guarantee that we can find another quality piece of land in a time to get the seeds growing

  • Regardless of these issues, it is obvious that the seed and tree collection need a permanent secure home

The solution:

We need to raise NZD $705,000 by the 30th of June 2014   to buy the land to save the seeds. We’ve calculated that every square meter of land that we need to purchase has a value of $1. With a $10 donation, we can buy 10 square meters of land. With a donation of $100 we can buy 100 square meters of land , and with a donation of $1,000 we can purchase 1000m2

We have a comprehensive fundraising strategy, this online fund-raising campaign is part of t hat strategy. We believe that it is important to gives our valued donors tangible benefits in return for their donation i.e. a ticket to attend a talk by Kay Baxter on our nation wide tour, attending one of our workshops held in 5 locations in New Zealand, becoming a business member of Koanga Institute with benefits, donating to our online crowd fundraising campaign and receiving a free seed saving ebook. The page you are on is the online crowd fundraising campaign. We are seeking donations either via this website campaign- donate a square metre appeal or through our bank account 12 3094 0158442 51.

Action: What can I do to save the heritage organic seed collection?

Please either:

Donate to our online programme as part of a crowd fundraising donate a square metre initiative click on the right and donate via paypal or pay into our bank account 12 3094 0158442 51 held at ASB with your email address and name as a reference [email protected]

Share our campaign: think about passing it on to others who may wish to support it. We need your help. This is a matter of profound national significance – please join us in this vital investment in our food future! This IS a race against time. We would be honoured if you would help us promote our crowd fund raising campaign to your community and friends through e-mail, newsletters, blogs, facebook,  other social media or contacting the media to tell out story.

Contact us via email and let us know how you can help: can you run a fund-raising event, sponsor us, become a business member, or anything else that may help?

Buy a ticket or tickets to our nationwide speaking tour click here for more info

Attend one of our educational workshops held in 5 locations within New Zealand click here for more info

 What’s in it for me??

Adopt  20 or more square metres of land via this online appeal , we will send:

  • A free best seller seed saving eBook published by Koanga Institute, written by Kay Baxter. This book has sold over 10,000 copies

  • An E-newsletter regularly updating you on current events at the Koanga Institute, allowing you to stay interactive with all projects as they evolve, learn how to do new things in your garden

  • A tax deduction receipt

  • The ability to tell your friends and family that you adopted land to support Koanga Institute. Knowing that the heritage seed and tree collection will be accessible to future generations of your family. The satisfaction of knowing that you contributed to a worthy cause and encouragement to spread the word about the Koanga Institute’s heritage organic seed and fruit tree collection to all those who care about conservation of our  planet’s biodiversity.

All campaign money donated will be deposited in a Trust Account only accessible by board members for purchasing land.


  • What happens to my money once I have donated?The money will be put into a secure trust account and only used for the purpose of buying the land.

  •  Is my donation tax deductible? Koanga Institute is a registered charity and donations are tax deductible.

  •  I thought you had to raise the money by November 2013, what happened? We have been lucky to have supportive landowners that have given us more time to fix this situation to secure the land and the seeds. This was largely because of the tremendous support that we received for this crowd funding appeal -  thank you all very much. It really did save us – for now.   We have since  negotiated June 2014.

  •  What are Koanga Institutes plans for the future?In addition this land will be used for research and the educational activities of the Koanga Institute to proactively promote the development of other seed saving organisations, community groups and train New Zealand’s future heritage gardeners and guardians.

We are conscious of being a non profit organisation focused on financial self reliance. We are in the process of improving our current business model and offerings to ensure further development of Koanga Institute but this will take time i.e. 2 years to ramp up.

Securing this land will not just mean the securing of New Zealand’s largest heritage organic tree and seed collections. It will also mean the securing of a future home for some of our research and development projects in self reliance and regenerative living.

The Koanga Institute has committed to developing a campus at 96 Kotare Road dedicated to:

  • holding our heritage food plant collections

  • research into all aspects of regenerative living

  • sharing our experience and knowledge

Through this, we aim to ensure the long-term sustainability, and regeneration of New Zealand’s bio-diversity heritage, and to contribute towards transformation in the wider community.

Primary Goals / objectives for 2014-2016

1. To continue our stewardship of our heritage collections, including:

  • new seed storage facilities

  • developing an East Coast heritage fruit tree collection further

  • continued collection of seeds

  • development of a seed bank incubator program within New Zealand

2.  To develop a research center that supports our vision.  Including the research,   modelling and promotion of:

  • the best practice of biological agriculture and production of nutrient dense food

  • the connections between soil, plant, animal and human health

  • the value of heritage varieties for nutrition and health.

  • the use of multi-tiered, perennial agricultural systems

  • use of traditional (non-industrialised) foods and food processing for good nutrition and health

  • appropriate technologies and self-reliant housing

  • appropriate social organisations (eg Community Land trusts, Bio-regional Associations,  Co-operatives etc)

3.   To further develop our membership base and the range of services offered to the public to ensure financial self reliance of Koanga Institute (a registered non profit organisation) including:

  • sales of seeds, books, booklets, and other products

  • an on-site campus for workshops, courses, internships and apprenticeships

  • seed bank incubator program

  • on-line courses and e-books.

  • consultancy and design

  • strategic commercial partnerships

Once the land is paid for to research the development of a village community that models all aspects of our vision, including purchasing our leasehold site within the village

5.   To engage with a wide range of individuals and organisations nationwide and internationally in mutually supportive relationships and partnerships.

6.   To complete the transition from an organisation with a dominant ‘founder energy’  to an organisation that can be independent of the founders and engaged strongly in the wider national community.  This will include a 3 year program of skills development with the staff team, ongoing apprenticeships, and a well documented institutionalised set of processes and protocols.

Be in touch, ask questions, share!! Arohanui.The Koanga Team : Kay, Bob, Peter, Michael, Emma, Brad, Rachel, Taiamai, Franzi, Tes, Shaked, Tamsin, Gail, and Rachel and all our members

Pledged of $255,000 Goal
Days left
Crowdfunding ends on

New Zealand’s largest heritage seed and tree collection is under threat and we are urgently appealing for support to remove this threat. URGENT appeal- help us save New Zealand’s largest heritage organic seed and tree collection by 3oth June 2014

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