In 2000 the Department of Conservation (DOC) began working with communities new to the concept of conservation to show, rather than tell, why places like the Hauraki Gulf are special and worth preserving.
To launch the "Chinese Urban Conservation Awareness Programme", the Auckland Conservancy invited influential members of the Chinese and Taiwanese communities and media to visit the internationally renowned wetlands of Miranda, on the edge of the Firth of Thames. Here as many as 40,000 migratory birds spend the summer resting and feeding before the long flight back to their breeding grounds in Siberia and Alaska.
For many of the visitors, it was their first conservation experience and was made even more meaningful by the connections between Asia and New Zealand along the Australasian flyway. As one visitor said: "You cannot underestimate the ripple effect of an outing like this. It seems like such a small thing, yet we will all talk about this here and when we go back to our home countries."
The Chinese Urban Conservation Awareness Programme continued to organise activities such as tree planting on Motutapu Island and cleaning up Rangitoto Island's coastline. In order to expand the operation and organise more activities for more people to get involved, the Programme decided to set up a trust - The Chinese Conservation Education Trust.
With the dedication and support of the DOC, the CCET launched on 13 April 2002 at Fort Takapuna, Northshore. Guests on the day included members of the Chinese community, Department of Conservation, Members of Parliament and VIPS from business and private sectors. The guest speakers were Judith Tizard, Minister of State and the Prime Minister's advisor, Ngati Whatua O Orakei Kaumatua Danny Tumahai, Mrs. Pansy Wong, Member of Parliament, and Mr. Rob McCallum, DOC's Auckland Conservator.
Our chairperson, Estella Lee thanked for all the encouragement and said, "We are sure we can work together to keep New Zealand clean and green. Together we will make NZ a harmonized place for all of us".