New Zealand’s unique plant biodiversity is under threat. Every seed is a potential plant. One way to safeguard New Zealand’s indigenous plant biodiversity is to store seed at -20°C in a seed bank. This seed can be used to reintroduce plants into areas where they have been lost. 

The New Zealand project has been training collectors throughout the country who will collect and send seed of New Zealand’s flora to Palmerston North. Collectors will be trained on protocol around collecting and sending seed, to ensure the integrity of the seeds is maintained and the seeds will be viable to store. So far, nearly one hundred collectors have been trained.

Once the seed reaches Palmerston North another group of volunteers extract, clean and dry the seed in preparation for banking.  Before banking a small portion of the seed is x-rayed to make sure the seed is free of larvae and that the seed is in good physical shape.  The last step before the seed is banked is for the volunteers to germinate a portion of the seed collected to make sure it is viable. 

Not all seed is able to be dried for banking. For example kohekohe seed dies if dried below 30-40% moisture. Part of the project is to try and determine which seed can be dried for banking and what other ways seed that cannot be dried can be stored.  

Since the project began in October 2013 over 90 species have been collected and banked. The project is always looking for volunteers to help with the collecting and processing of the seed.

Volunteer opportunities

  • Collecting seeds (anywhere in New Zealand)
  • Preparing the seeds for banking (Palmerston North)
  • Germinating selection of seed (Palmerston North)

Contact us


Volunteers are a vital part of the seed bank project and there is specific training available for those who volunteer. If you are interested in volunteering contact Cristina Winkworth or Georgina Aubia.

Other enquiries

If you have any other questions about the New Zealand Indigenous Flora Seed project for instance regarding our research or accessing the Bank contact Craig McGill.

Seed bank volunteer in Taranaki

Seed bank volunteer Sarah Galley using the pole pruner to collect kanuka seed at Dawson Falls, Taranaki.

Volunteer abseiling down tree

Vanessa Angster collecting seeds at Baring Head

Vanessa Angster (AgResearch) collecting tetragonia implexicoma fruits at Baring Head, Wellington.