You are currently viewing Help needed for trust that helps others
Gary and Adrienne Dalton have run Te Whangai Trust for 18 years and have seen countless lives changed for the better. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Help needed for trust that helps others

The Te Whangai Trust is not only a nursery, but in saying that, it relies on councils and organisations to purchase the plants it nurtures.
Yet as founders Adrienne and Gary Dalton would tell you, the trust is more than the end product of its natives, it’s a social enterprise that provides alternative pathways to employment for people in need across the Thames Valley.
Over 18 years, they have seen lives changed.
Former gang members, released prisoners, and isolated rangatahi have all been employed by Adrienne and Gary, with some even being temporarily housed by them.
It’s no surprise then that in 2022, Adrienne was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, and that this year, Gary has been named a semi-finalist in the 2024 Senior New Zealander of the Year awards.
They are now calling on members of the community to assist at Te Whangai Trust, and said there was a diverse range of skills out there that could be tapped into.
“No matter what their stage is in life, people have all got their learnings they can share,” Adrienne said. “A person who has been bankrupt can have empathy for the ones who have nothing. All they need is a good listening ear, and to be prepared to sit by somebody and let them vent.”
Gary added that retirees could also provide their talents to help the trust grow. In turn, more seeds will get sown and it is hoped, more organisations will purchase them.
“The more trees they buy, the more kids we can help,” he said.
The trust was inspired by Gary and Adrienne’s daughter Leigh, who died in a car accident in 2007. Since then, the pair have faced their challenges, but the biggest of them all has been working towards achieving systemic change.
“We had an 18-year-old kid who came from the roughest background, and we’d shoot out and plant some trees and I’d say to him: ‘You’ll be able to get your grandkids to come back and see what you did’. You can watch his stature change immediately,” Gary said. “He’s a little thug who now has a future and can show what he’s achieved. It changes their mana straight away.
“But you can’t spend too much time fixing what’s wrong, you’ve got to make what’s wrong right,” he said. “There are some things you aren’t going to change – only time can change them.”
The Te Whangai Trust is grounded in the practice of whangai (in Māori culture, this means being raised by extended family), and at the nursery in Miranda, there is a clear feeling of kāinga.
All workers are paid a living wage while they develop their skills in a nurturing, inclusive environment.
“We’re providing them with hope,” Gary said. “Everyone needs to feel as though they are contributing and valued in their community.”
DETAILS: For info, or to support the trust, visit: