Wedding couple chooses “a gift for the place we love”

New Zealand’s great outdoors and waterways have played a special part in Tamsin Merriman and Paul Anderson’s lives, and their life together.

Tamsin and Paul live and work in China, but had their first date beside Lake Taupō, took their first selfie on the beach at Ohope (which you can see at the end of this blog), celebrated their engagement party lakeside — and in January 2021 they’ll get married, back on the shores of Lake Taupō.

So to celebrate their wedding, they’re asking friends and family to give them a gift that’s not just for them, but for the place they love.

They’ve set up a registry through The Good Registry to ask for donations to Million Metres instead of physical gifts. Why? Because they say they “want for very little”, they often can’t carry physical gifts on their travels, and because the work that Million Metres does to protect NZ’s waterways is so close to their hearts.

The Good Registry asked Tamsin and Paul to share more about their decision to set up a charitable registry, and what they love about Million Metres. Their answers made our spines tingle with joy :)

What was your reason for choosing to have a Good Registry instead of traditional wedding gifts?

Our reasons were simple — we both acknowledged early that we want for very little. After following the Good Registry for some time and seeing the example set by others, we knew that this is something we too wanted to support.

Being surrounded by friends and family who help others also inspired us to do our part — however small.

Living overseas and a transient life, we are also not in a position to take anything on the road with us. Often physical gifts, though special are something we cannot carry on our travels, and leaving them behind always seems inconsiderate and a burden for others. While we do not expect gifts, we know that some of our guests will want to contribute — and what better cause than conserving our beautiful country.

How easy (or hard!) was it to choose a charity from The Good Registry?

There are many worthy causes worth supporting, and we had an initial list that we debated over. While we would have liked to support all of them (and may yet do so in the future), we ultimately settled on the one we thought best aligned with our ideals — conservation and protection of New Zealand’s complex eco-system. This seemed like a way to benefit the most New Zealanders, which was also an objective and key to our decision.

What was the reason that you chose Million Metres?

From the very beginning, we knew we wanted to choose a charity that resonated with both of us. We have a great affiliation with water, and living overseas appreciate the natural beauty of Aotearoa. Advocates for NZ from overseas, we are always telling anyone how beautiful our country is, and want our international wedding guests to experience this first hand. Therefore, it was important to us to support a charity that shares this ethos and works to ensure NZ’s waterways for future generations.

When researching charities, the thing that struck us about Million Metres was how transparent it was in sharing statistics and how many metres of trees had been funded. We felt that our donation could really make a difference, in a tangible and physical way. Their objectives seemed practical and their goals attainable, and the cause is one of the most important we are likely to face in Aotearoa.

Water is a life force, and central to our livelihood and survival.

Living in China and traveling to places where clean water is not easily accessible, we know how lucky we are at home. In saying this, the statistics on the site were alarming and this provoked us to consider how we could help to support the charity to reach its goals, as ultimately its success will affect us all.

Why do you think we need charities like Million Metres? (And why is it important for people to support them?)

Charities that focus on the ecology and sustainability of New Zealand are growing ever important, and traveling and working overseas have helped us realise how truly unique and special New Zealand’s nature and landscape are. With the increasing pressures on the environment, the light that Million Metres shines and the hope that it delivers by planting trees and attempting to remedy the situation is worth supporting.

It sounds like you and Paul have quite an emotional attachment to NZ’s waterways! Could you tell us a bit about that and how it has been part of your relationship?

We can track our relationship by the milestones we have celebrated in NZ, most of which involve in some way waterways.

We had our first date beside beautiful Lake Taupō, which we call home even from overseas. Many a memory has since been forged along its shores.

Only last summer we celebrated our engagement party with a lakeside beach barbecue with close family and friends.

Our first trip away saw us on the sand of Ohope, where we took our first selfie (a momentous ‘digital’ occasion). [We’ve included their beautiful selfie at the end — editor]

Recently on a visit home, Paul was introduced to my local awa Whirinaki, learning first-hand its swiftness and strength.

Growing up lake and riverside, water has always been both an amusement and a nurturer.

For all kiwis, water and the environment in NZ has a profound impact on our lives. We are a nation abundant in nature, lakes, rivers, and streams, and encased by sea. As kaitiaki or guardians of New Zealand, we have a shared responsibility to protect what we cherish, and that for us is what Million Metres is trying to achieve.

What are your plans for your wedding?

Our wedding will be an intimate and casual celebration with our nearest and dearest, on the shores of Lake Taupō.

Streamblock, our venue provides the ideal oasis for a private ceremony, with a vineyard, olive grove and our beloved lake close at hand.

Having our wedding in January, we are attempting to capture all the summer beauty of the lake for our international guests and out of town visitors.

We are hoping for a stress-free occasion, where everyone is well fed and watered and where we can relax and be present for every moment with our guests.

Currently we are investigating ways to ensure we can recycle, and be conscious of the natural beauty around us.

We hope to leave only footprints, and ensure our guests truly understand why our chosen charity is so important.

How has it felt for you since making the decision to choose charitable donations instead of gifts?

As expected, we feel like we’ve made the right decision — as we can ensure that our celebration has a wide-reaching impact.

The feeling of giving to others without expectation is indescribable, and something we definitely encourage everyone to experience.

Our wedding celebration is an ideal opportunity to do so, and we are glad the Good Registry exists to create an outlet for people to make connections that can only spread more good in the world.

We really hope that the contributions on our behalf can assist Million Metres in having a lasting impact on our home.

To quote our registry “it is a gift not only for us, but for the place we love”.

About The Good Registry

The Good Registry is a social giving platform where anyone from small kids to big corporates can give the gift of giving with charitable donations instead of unwanted gifts.

The Good Registry isn’t anti-gifts — we’re just helping to make giving more simple, sustainable and kind.

We have created two simple ways to give through our website:

  • Create your own Good Gift Registry for a special event (e.g. a birthday or wedding — like Tamsin and Paul) and ask friends to donate to a charity you choose, instead of buying gifts.
  • Give Good Gift Cards instead of traditional gifts, to enable others to make donations to charities they care about.

About Million Metres

Million Metres is working to restore the health of New Zealand’s rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands.

Working with community groups and landowners, their goal is to plant native trees along a million metres of waterways.

Planting creates a buffer between the waterway and the land — filtering contaminants, reducing erosion, and creating habitat for native fish and birds.

Donations to Million Metres through The Good Registry help protect and restore New Zealand’s precious waterways for generations to come.

Tamsin and Paul’s first selfie — on the beach at Ohope

Revolutionising giving - for simplicity, social good and zero waste. Join the good gift revolution at thegoodregistry.com