The Tree Projects
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A forest diverse in natural and cultural herritage


New Zealand is home to an incredible diversity of unique and threatened trees and animals as well as an abundance of undiscovered canopy inhabitants. The Podocarps are a group of truly ancient trees that trace their heritage back to the Gondwanian super content 140 million years ago.  One of these podocarps a 41 meter high Rimu (Dacrydium cupressinum) provided an incredible central subject for our tree portrait.

Along with the incredible natural heritage there is a wealth of cultural diversity that has many chapters. From the early days of the Maori through to the beginnings of the forestry industry and the dramatic forest protest of 1978 though to the cutting edge canopy science of today.


The NZTP teams work commenced in Pureora Forest Park on New Zealand's North Island in early 2015. We were blessed to have a warm welcome from local iwi, who provided incredible support during our stay. The initial set up period was a lively time with eight of us working tirelessly to get all the equipment in place, including our main camera rig which took four professional tree climbers three days to install. The main camera rig ran the entire 41 meter height of the subject tree, which allowed us to take the series of photos that created the Rimu Portrait.


Click on the above image to view at 100% scale

This image took 4 weeks of field work to record and 2 weeks of editing to realise. It is the most true to form representation of an emergent podocarp and its surrounding forest. It is the centre piece of the NZ Tree Project and has been shown in at festivals and in galleries and museums throughout North Island NZ. We used a specialised camera rig that ran the entire 40m height of the tree. The end result is a never-seen-before, extraordinarily high quality, high resolution image from a level view point without distortion:


Canterbury Museum, Christchurch NZ
February - march 2017

We are pleased to announce that the New Zealand Tree Project will be making its first trip to the South Island. Our full range of content will be on display at the Canterbury Museum in the heart of Christchurch. The show will be opening on Friday 19 February 2017 and continue though to the end of March.

Pataka Art + Museum, Wellington
December 2016 - January 2017

The NZ team has been busy setting up another gallery show, this time in Wellington. Pataka Art + Museum will be hosting the NZ Tree Project for 6 week over the busy summer holiday period.

Modern Dinosaurs - Documentary
November 2016

Modern Dinosaurs is a documentary series currently being filmed in New Zealand for the discovery channel. This iconic series celebrates the biological diversity and geographic splendour of one of the world’s most unique countries. In November the NZ Tree Project team were invited to be involved with filming in their absolute favourite forest - Pureora! Andrew and his climbing crew set up rigging in a large kahikatea near the road into Pureora village. This site was chosen because the road provided a great view of the canopy for the drone cameras. Catherine and Andrew were filmed amongst the spreading limbs of this forest giant, discussing the unique features of New Zealand's forest canopy and the thrill of exploring such large trees. It was a beautiful day and the view from the canopy was only made better by the darting kaka and flitting rifleman (birds) that joined in the action! The episode that features Pureora Forest will highlight the amazing podocarp trees of Pureora with a feature on their canopy ecosystems and the challenge of accessing the treetops.

International Society of Arboriculture ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, TExas
29 JULY - 2 AUGUST 2017

Exciting news! The New Zealand Tree Project goes international. Andrew Harrison has been invited to present at the ISA conference. This will be a great opportunity to share our conservation message, our unique approach and experiences to a large cross section of professional arborist tree climbing industry. the main goal was to hopefully inspire arborists to see trees from a different perspective and show how I had used my skills to work with a team of professionals from different disciplines to achieve something out of the ordinary. 

Auckland FEstival of photography, Gus Fisher Gallery
27 May - 2 July 2016

As part of the exciting exhibition titled: WOOD: back to the future. The 4 metre-tall Rimu Portrait was displayed in Auckland's Gus Fisher Gallery alongside works from Laurence Aberhart, the Tree Ring Laboratory and the Kauri Project.

Waikato Show, Claudelands Event Centre
8-10 April 2016

The EnviroExpo - an extravaganza of awesome environmental initiatives in the Waikato. Come along and be greeted by some wild and wonderful creatures from The Wildcare Trust and a 4 metre tall portrait of a giant Rimu tree from Pureora Forest (see pic) – thanks to the NZ Tree Project. 

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival
11-21 February 2016

The Hamilton Gardens, our very own International Garden of the Year, is the spectacular setting for theatre, music, art, dance, writers, ideas, circus and street performances for two weeks every Summer. This stunning exhibition celebrates the beauty and uniqueness of New Zealand’s native trees.  Enjoy a never-before-seen view of a huge native Rimu tree, as part of this stunning display that includes a gallery of forest scenes, a documentary of the dramatic Pureora conservation stories and other awe-inspiring images - an unforgettable nature experience. Tree Climbing Demo, come learn how the NZ Tree Project team get to the tree tops for their amazing photography work and watch the Professional Tree Climbing Demo.

JANUARY-FEBruARY edition 2016 Some of you may not have had the opportunity to read the NZ Geographic article in which the NZ Tree Project features. The issue came out in January this year and is now available online. The article features some great photos by Steve Pearce of the team climbing at Pureora. It also outlines other important canopy research that is being carried out in NZ.

18 DECEMBER 2015 - 31 JANUARY 201

Moving into the RAMP gallery the very next day after the premiere the NZ team presented the work in its first gallery setting. The gallery is centrally located in Hamilton with high foot traffic through the very buys months of December and January. The exhibit beautifully converted the forest and the 4m rims portrait and saw many people realise that this ancient and uniquely NZ forest exists within a few hours of the city.

11 December 2015

180 sponsors, donors and supporters packed into the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts Playhouse theatre for this one night only event. The premiere was a runaway success as indicated by the excellent feedback, smiles, raucous laughter and conversation. The NZTP team couldn't have expected such an outstanding show of support from a very broad and diverse cross section of the community.

The evening began with a beautifully moving mihi and blessing from Waikato-Tainui and Ngāti Rereahu which set a special atmosphere for the entire evening. After brief speeches from the University of Waikato's Professor Bruce Clarkson and the NZTP team, the excited crowd erupted into praise as they viewed the 4x2 metre Rimu Portrait and the full selection of large format printed works. The quality of the work and the rarely seen subjects had the crowd captivated.

Along with the printed works we of course had the first public viewing of our documentary "On the Shoulder of Giants". The film had the audience cheering mid presentation as they saw scenes from the past and saw family, friends in a story of their own turbulent history. 

The NZTP team were left speechless by the support and found the event very rejuvenating after working for so long behind the scenes. The team's next big task is maintaining contact with outstanding exhibition confirmations from many Museums and Galleries all over New Zealand.


Pureora is a forest full of story and events the echoed across the entire country. From the beginnings of the forestry industry, the nationally significant 1978 protests and the deep connection of the local iwi (traditional Maori custodians) the team were inspired and moved.

Not many people know the details of the incredible and dramatic events that have taken place in Pureora. The documentary set out to document all sides of the story and bring the people together for the first time since 1978.

"On the Shoulders of Giants" shares the raw perspectives of loggers, iwi, scientists and conservationists as it journeys through the Pureora story of forest discovery, degradation and then protection before finishing on a high from the tree tops with never-seen-before footage from New Zealand’s forest canopy.

The goal of this documentary is to share some of the wonder we experienced in Pureora Forest in hopes that more people will visit and protect our unique natural areas. We hope you enjoy!


Steven Pearce
Creative Director

Steven is a renowned, award-winning photographer who specialises in wilderness and adventure photography.

As an avid tree climber and a passionate naturalist, he has spent many years documenting forests, the canopy of trees and the scientists who study them. He has successfully run numerous expeditions, photography workshops and community outreach events.

Catherine Kirby
Project Coordinator

Catherine is the author of Field Guide to New Zealand’s Epiphytes, Vines & Mistletoes and the coordinator of the New Zealand Epiphyte Network.

She has vast experience in New Zealand forests including tree climbing and plenty of epiphyte exploration. Catherine is also an Environmental Educator with a personal mission to re-connect people to the land and forests.

Andrew Harrison
Climber & Technician

Three times New Zealand tree climbing champ, Andrew is a keen adventurer who has climbed significant trees all over New Zealand and the world. 

Andrew is a member of the arboriculture academic staff at Wintec and is well renowned for his contributions to international tree climbing and arboriculture industries.

Jen Sanger
Project Coordinator

Jennifer is a passionate plant ecologist who has spent many years studying rainforests and the charismatic plant species which inhabit them. 

As an epiphyte ecologist and passionate tree climber, she has spent countless hours exploring the canopies of rainforest trees. Highly organised, she has successfully run many field expeditions in various locations around the world.


Mitchell 'Squirrel' Botting

Our Go-To video and photo man, Mitchell was on site for the big events and proved indispensable. Very capable of having a laugh while getting the job done.

Fiona 'Scoob' Clarkson

Fiona spent several days on site and provided us with essential logistical and moral support. Her passion for forest conservation is second to none.

Rachel 'Tink' Nepia

The forever-smiling Rachel was essential relief from 'the bush crazies'. She gave us her valuable time and baked some incredibly delicious cakes!


Tim 'Bike Helmet' Sharp

Tim's climbing expertise was essential for setup but the scone critique was a bonus.

James 'Bare Foot' Kilpatrick

James put in many hours during the setup period and was vital for rigging one of the main trees.

Anika 'orchid sniffer' Ha

Anika is a highly skilled climber and her help was crucial during the setup period of the project.

Paul 'The Bach' Kenny

Paul was on site for the pack up and also went the extra mile to help with other project aspects.