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ZEALANDIA’s Centre for People and Nature taking shape
Kate Miller

ZEALANDIA’s Centre for People and Nature taking shape

Work is picking up steam in ZEALANDIA’s Centre for People and Nature, with around 80 people  national and internal research projects and collaborations now underway. 

Launched last year, the Centre leads and facilitates research on how to enhance the role of nature in cities. Researchers across areas of health and wellbeing, the science of nature, and connecting people and nature, are drawing on the ZEALANDIA sanctuary, the green heart and living laboratory of Wellington.  

Supported by New Zealand philanthropist and conservation advocate Peter Eastwood through his Tanglewood Foundation, the Centre encompasses nationally, and internationally leading-edge research focused on understanding and enhancing the role and value of the natural world in the places where people live.  

“Having the Tanglewood Foundation as a key partner enables us to focus on this critical work and create a hub for the Centre for People and Nature,” says ZEALANDIA Chief Executive, Paul Atkins. “Thanks to his generous donation, together with our own working capital and a grant from the Wellington City Council, we will be able to create a physical centre for this work to continue and grow.” 

The first step in building the Centre’s work has been to grow multidisciplinary research partnerships that are designed to learn from ZEALANDIA programmes, and to enhance New Zealand’s knowledge of both how to create nature-rich cities and the benefits that people gain from nature. 

“We know that the impact of ZEALANDIA on the Wellington region and beyond is growing, and the Centre provides a mechanism to share the research focused on this transformation. The Centre will benefit organisations who are working to connect people and nature, such as councils, government, policymakers and providers of health services,” says Centre Director Dr Danielle Shanahan. “Through this work, we will help deliver our purpose of connecting people with our unique natural heritage and inspire actions that transform how people live with nature.” 

“Being Wellington born and bred, I have always had a keen interest in ZEALANDIA and I just love that they have a 500 year vision,” says Peter Eastwood. “Seeing this environment evolving and becoming a world leading facility has encouraged me to contribute. My business started in the Wellington suburb of Petone so it is rewarding to be able to give back to the region in the field of conservation that I am passionate about.” 

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