Gift Funding


GIFT began in 2016 as a $5m fund, with additional funding of $2m (2019) and $2m (2020) approved by the Foundation North Board. An additional $3m was approved to The Nature Conservancy by the Foundation North Board in 2019 to establish a Challenge Fund (see here for more information).

GIFT funds at three levels. Experimentation and risk taking is supported, with some failure expected.

Looking for potential
– Under $50k
  • Test good ideas
  • Rapid learning and prototyping
Growing potential
– $50k and over
  • Test at larger scale, grow proven ideas
  • Level
    Finding potential in the system
    – No funding parameters
  • Collaborative innovation for system change
  • Shift conditions holding a problem in place
  • GIFT Year 4
    Total applications received since 2016
    31 ($893,713)
    17 ($2,350,981)
    8 ($3,963,325)
    Funding Awarded

    GIFT projects have leveraged further funding of $3,722,232 to date.

    Three Seed projects went on to receive Scale funding:

    1. Hauraki Gulf Watershed
    2. Ecomatters/Crave Global
    3. The Nature Conservancy

    Two Seed projects went on to receive System funding:

    1. Noises protection and restoration project
    2. Sustainable Business Network

    A GIFT Impact Summary is being produced in the first quarter of 2021.

    ** The Centre for Social Impact evaluates GIFT and advises on innovation and strategy. It also provides evaluation and capacity support to GIFT grantees.
    Centre for Social Impact Logo

    GIFT Grantees by Focus Area

    Each year we’re now running marine education activity with over 20,000 school students, and we’re reaching thousands more through public events; we’re partnering with events and organisations such as NZ Ocean Racing to find new channels to raise awareness of the issues facing our ocean environment; and perhaps most exciting we’re adapting the education programme to make it suitable for Māori medium settings. Plus NZ Geographic is reaching many thousands more people through its digital channels. And none of that would have happened without GIFT and their preparedness to invest boldly.

    GIFT grantee: James Gibson, CEO – Blake Trust

    A regenerative approach

    GIFT has moved its investment to a more holistic approach that integrates mātauranga Māori. This aligns with Foundation North’s refreshed strategy and focus area of Whakahou Taiao | Regenerative Environment.

    This focus area has four outcomes:

    • Tino Rangatiratanga– community led action for Te Taiao
    • Mātauranga Māori leading regeneration and restoration
    • Increased connection and equity of access to Te Taiao.
    • Renewing, regenerating ecosystems and communities

    Key ways that GIFT has been reflecting this strategy are indicated below.

    Tino Rangatiratanga– mana whenua led action for Tīkapa Moana Te Moananui-ā-Toi

    Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Waiora Ltd:

    A grant of $50,000 to develop a holistic delivery plan for this iwi for multiple taiao (environment) workstreams.

    Protect Aotea/Great Barrier (umbrella for Kelly Klink):

    Support of $25,000 to build a resource hub of all relevant mātauranga Māori, including pūrākau, kōrero tawhito, waiata, whakataukī, and mōteatea, scientific research and data.

    Te Toki Voyaging Trust:

    A grant of $50,000 to run a ‘Rangatahi Kaitiaki’ programme in conjunction with Umupuia Marae.
    Click here for the case study for this project.

    Mātauranga Māori leading regeneration and restoration

    Hauraki Gulf Conservation Trust (as an umbrella for Ngā Uri o Ngāti Pāoa ki Waiheke – Waiheke Marine Project):

    Two grants totalling $75,000 for a Ngāti Pāoa whānau, hapū and community-led exploration of what it means to have “Heart-centered kaitiakitanga (guardianship) of Waiheke Island’s marine environment – Waiheke ki uta, Waiheke ki tai, Waiheke ki tua” and a contribution towards the Future Search event.

    Envirostrat Ltd in conjunction with Dave Kellian:

    A grant of $50,000 to trial a new fish trap to reduce bycatch for commercial fishers.
    Click here for the case study for this project.

    Marine Protection & Restoration Project:

    Support of $124,333 to the Noises Family Trust and grants of $75,000 to the Auckland Museum Trust Board to collaboratively advance protection and restoration of the marine environment surrounding the Noises group of Islands. Click here to read the project progress to date.

    P3Ltd (umbrella for Indigenous to Papatūānuku programme):

    Support of $67,025 for Moana Tamaariki-Pohe and Louise Marra to run the Indigenous to Papatūānuku programme for leaders of influence within Tīkapa Moana Te Moananui-ā-Toi.

    Emerge Institute under the umbrella of Unity House Ltd:

    Support of $25,000 to run an innovation lab on Tīkapa Moana Te Moananui-ā-Toi / The Hauraki Gulf: Creating solutions to address social and environmental issues through weaving indigenous wisdom with leadership development and innovation.

    Increased connection and equity of access to Te Taiao

    Envirostrat Ltd:

    A grant of $50,000 to investigate the feasibility of using impact investment to support transition to a low impact, high value seafood sector in the Hauraki Gulf. Click here to read the case study.

    The Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation, umbrella for the Young Ocean Explorers:

    Three grants totalling $353,000 to enable the Young Ocean Explorers to produce content that focuses on addressing environmental issues facing the Hauraki Gulf. Funding also enabled community engagement, Te Reo Māori translations and the development of the 21 day challenge. Click here to read the learning and outcomes summary for the Young Ocean Explorers programme.

    Blake Trust in conjunction with NZ Geographic:

    Two grants totalling $363,000 for a series of 360 degree virtual reality marine experiences, to engage a wide and diverse audience with the Hauraki Gulf (NZVR), also for school outreach and to develop kaupapa Maori resources. Click here to read the learning and outcomes summary for this VR initiative.

    University of Auckland Foundation as the umbrella for the Hauraki Gulf Watershed Project:

    Three grants totalling $95,000 to bring tangata whenua and tauiwi together, to co-create initiatives to influence the hearts and minds of Aucklanders to treasure the Hauraki Gulf.


    A grant of $107,635 to undertake habitat mapping in the Hauraki Gulf to establish priority areas for conservation and restoration in conjunction with mana whenua and stakeholders. Click here to read project progress to date.

    University of Auckland Foundation (Nick Shears – Improving the Rocky Reef):

    A grant of $188,000 for a collaborative project aimed at restoring the mauri of rocky reefs in the Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana Te Moananui-ā-Toi by weaving mātauranga Māori and Western science. Click here to read more about this project.

    University of Auckland Foundation (Rochelle Constantine – Pulse of the Gulf):

    A grant of $211,250, to determine the environmental drivers and interactions that influence marine megafauna (whales and dolphins), through innovative technologies and mātauranga. Click here for more information on this project.

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