The idea of an environmental trust for Banks Peninsula emerged in 2005, when prior to the merger with Christchurch City Council, the former Banks Peninsula District Council determined to divest itself of several farms in Ashburton that had been endowed to its predecessor councils.  It was determined that the funds should be used to create an enduring legacy for the former Banks Peninsula District Council’s area and that such a trust was the best way to achieve this. The Trust commenced with a sum of $3,503,882 from the sale and then subsequent investment of the funds.

The name Rod Donald (read an Obituary to Rod ) was suggested for the Trust to honour this highly respected and influential politician who died in 2005, and to reflect his deep love for his constituency of Banks Peninsula. After a public consultation process demonstrated support for both the concept and the name, the organisation was formally constituted as a Charitable Trust in July 2010.

The Trust deed gives the Trust a wide mandate to promote sustainable management and conservation, recreation, culture and heritage, research projects and public education in the area formerly administered by the Banks Peninsula District Council (Boundary map).

The Trust is a Christchurch City Council-controlled organisation; Trustees are appointed by the Council and must produce a Statement of Intent (SOI) each year. The SOI specifies the objectives, the nature and scope of the activities to be undertaken, and the performance targets and other measures by which the Trust is to be judged for that year.

Each year the Trust must also deliver its audited accounts to the Council for scrutiny.

After establishing its objectives, the next tasks of the newly formed Trust were to ensure wise investment of funds in accordance with its principles, and to understand the mix of groups and agencies already working on Banks Peninsula with overlapping objectives.

An initial Stocktake project was conducted to develop a list of existing groups with aligned aims and their projects. Interviews were conducted with representatives of the principal organisations involved with environmental projects on the Peninsula to learn of their aspirations and projects, and to establish areas where the Trust could provide support or assistance

The stocktake enabled the Trustees to refine their objectives into a set of four strategic pillars,

  • access through a network of walkways, cycleways and affordable campgrounds,
  • knowledge-sharing on environmental issues,
  • partnership with organisations already engaged with projects on Banks Peninsula, and
  • biodiversity enhancement through active projects.

These pillars were incorporated into the Statement of Intent for the 2014-15 year .The stocktake also helped establish those areas where the Trust could provide a supporting role, and where the Trust might provide leadership. Recognising, for example, the work of the highly respected Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust, the Trust has chosen to take a support and funding role in the area of biodiversity. The Trust has taken a leadership role in recreational walking.