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Iconic Charity Launches Urgent Appeal To Sustain Environmental Programmes

Iconic charity educating future Tidy Kiwis launches urgent appeal to sustain environmental programmes

Keep New Zealand Beautiful, a charity empowering young minds with invaluable environmental education, says they will be forced to shelve their free school programmes beyond Term 2, 2024 unless they urgently secure the required funds to sustain them.

The not-for-profit, which has been around since 1967, is one of New Zealand’s leading and longest standing environmental charities. With over 50 years of service to the community, their iconic campaigns ‘Be a Tidy Kiwi’ and ‘Do the Right Thing’ have become an intrinsic part of New Zealand’s identity.

The charity, which began as a government-led litter reduction agency, now provides Aotearoa’s largest environmental education framework to students and the community, with the objective of combatting climate change through interactive programmes that are focused on creating the next generation of Tidy Kiwis. Unfortunately, the future delivery of these free climate literacy programmes is under threat.

Mandated yet not funded

Keep New Zealand Beautiful is named in the Litter Act 19791 as “the body primarily responsible for the promotion of litter control in New Zealand”. However, unlike other charitable organisations mandated by legislation2, they receive no guaranteed funding from central government.

In 2021, Keep New Zealand Beautiful tendered for and secured a two-year grant of $1.3 million from the Waste Minimisation Fund, including $220,000 allocated annually to environmental education. This funding stream has now come to an end, and with no assurance of future funding under the new government coalition, the charity is proactively exploring alternative fundraising avenues, including running a crowdfunding appeal to sustain their successful education programmes.

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APPEAL: Help Keep New Zealand Beautiful to raise over $150,000 to safeguard their free environmental education programmes for Kiwi kids, beyond Term 2, 2024.

Donate here:

In contrast to most environmental education service providers, Keep New Zealand Beautiful offers all of its lesson plans, teaching materials, facilitated classroom sessions, field trips, mentoring, and professional development to teachers and students for free.

“We strongly believe that litter control and climate literacy can be proactively addressed through environmental education, and that every young person has not just the need, but a right to access this education3 regardless of any historical, sociocultural, geographical, or economic barriers they may encounter. One of our organisation’s core values is inclusivity, which is why we don’t charge for schools to participate in our education programmes and why we have a special emphasis on reaching out to Aotearoa’s most isolated, vulnerable, and marginalised communities,” says Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO Heather Saunderson.

“We refuse to compromise our values by imposing costs on schools, as this would limit access to environmental education to only a privileged few and simply duplicate resourcing for children who are already being reached by other user pay providers. Alternatively, pausing these programmes would hinder the progress we've made to date in fostering environmental awareness and action amongst our marginalised tamariki and rangatahi.”

Achieving the unachievable

The Waste Minimisation Fund project that Keep New Zealand Beautiful tendered for back in 2021 encompassed just three project workstreams. However, at the Ministry for the Environment’s discretion, the resulting Deed of Funding required that the charity complete an additional eight workstreams and contribute 26% ($338,000) towards the cost of the project in its entirety. This, Ms Saunderson says, has placed significant financial pressure on the organisation, which in turn has impacted the charity’s ability to continue to provide their environmental education programmes for free.

Despite these challenges, the not-for-profit has successfully expanded their education framework and delivered environmental programming to nearly 1,000 schools over two years, far surpassing their previous educational KPIs and the target set by the Ministry of 836 schools (over a third of all schools in New Zealand).

Andrew Corney, former Head of Faculty (Inquiry Learning) at Tauranga Boys’ College is just one of the teachers who has benefited from the charity’s education programmes. “When I came across Keep New Zealand Beautiful's Eco-Schools programme, I thought – man, I wish I’d found this four years ago! It's a really great resource, I’m sure there are other teachers and schools who, once they know about it, will have a similar reaction to what I’ve had.”

“Curating Aotearoa’s most comprehensive framework of environmental education programmes and reaching over 144,000 students in nearly 1,000 schools over two years, with an annual budget of just $220,000 is something we’re incredibly proud of,” says Ms Saunderson.

“In contrast, New Zealand's primary environmental education service provider receives $1.9 million4 of funding from central government annually, and also charges schools a fee to participate in their programmes. After 23 years they have a network of 1,500 schools5 – so it’s not too difficult to see the cost savings and the return on investment that Keep New Zealand Beautiful can offer.

Appealing for help

“We’re as passionate about providing environmental education and minimising the waste of resources and funding, as we are about tackling litter and climate change,” says Ms Saunderson.

“At a time when public spending is under scrutiny, we’d hate to see New Zealander’s investment in creating these programmes go to waste. We’d also hate to see marginalised youth missing out on invaluable environmental education, which is why we’re asking Kiwis to help us raise $150,000 to sustain our school programmes and to ensure that we can continue to provide them for free until we’re able to secure additional funding from alternative avenues”.

Help to educate the next generation of sustainable and climate literate Tidy Kiwis this Earth Day by donating to Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s ‘Safeguard Free Environmental Education’ appeal here:



Litter Act 1979 - Section 4. Responsibility for promotion of litter control:

"Keep New Zealand Beautiful Incorporated shall be the body primarily responsible for the promotion of litter control in New Zealand."


The Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (the RNZSPCA) jointly enforce the Animal Welfare Act with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). RNZSPCA receive $6.5 million annually from the government which is earmarked for the Inspectorate.


(3) In 2020 the Labour government declared a climate emergency, recognising that climate change is one of the greatest threats this country faces and that action is needed now to protect New Zealanders, our environment, our primary industries, our public health, and our Pacific neighbours. However, despite this, environmental education is not a core part of the New Zealand school curriculum.

(4) See

(5) See

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