Protecting New Zealand's rarest of the rare.

Our Purpose to Protect

   The Endangered Species Foundation is working very hard to prevent any further extinctions in New Zealand, a place where so much has already been lost, and where nearly 4,000 species found nowhere else remain in some danger of extinction. I applaud the attention they give to all species - not just the large charismatic birds and mammals, but also the less well known species of invertebrates, fungi, lichens, lizards, plants, amphibians, and even seaweeds. Their endeavour to provide sustainable support to essential conservation programmes is particularly important in a world where resources for conservation are scarce and all too often are available only for too-short a time. I wish them, and the species they support, all the success they deserve in this innovative project.”     Dame Jane Goodall
   Our nature has shaped who we are as New Zealanders. It is what makes New Zealand truly unique, and is intrinsically linked to our national identity. Our unique native species and precious wild places are taonga that we protect today to hand onto our children and grandchildren. But more than that, our economy, health and wellbeing, recreational pursuits and cultural identity are all closely tied to the health of our nature. Our landscapes, wild places and iconic native species are central to how the world sees us; they are part of the brand that sells New Zealand to the world. Our nature gives us an enviable ‘natural advantage’. The work of the Endangered Species Foundation of New Zealand (ESFNZ) helps to protect our most threatened nature. They focus on the species and habitats most in need of help, many of which may suffer from being less widely recognised than our more charismatic animals or iconic places. ESFNZ understands that we owe it to future generations to allow them the same opportunity to benefit from our nature as we do. By supporting ESFNZ, you can help play your part in conserving our nature for future New Zealanders and protecting what makes our country truly special."     Lou Sanson, Director General, Department of Conservation


The Endangered Species Foundation of New Zealand (ESFNZ) is a registered charitable organisation supporting high-priority conservation projects that protect New Zealand’s most vulnerable indigenous species and habitats from extinction. We aim to save the 'Rarest of the Rare'.

New Zealand is famous for its uniqueness and we have a long history of working to protect our natural heritage. But even though considerable effort is being made, it is not enough. Today nearly 4,000 of our most unique species are in danger of being lost, with 800 listed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) as being at a high risk of extinction. This number increased by nearly 200 species in the past five years. Just 25% of these high risk species are currently able to be actively managed by the DOC. 

While the cost to NZ of preventing further extinctions is estimated at many million dollars a year, the amount needed to secure the futures of some species may be as a little as $500 for targeted intervention.

The Endangered Species Foundation provides the sustainable, long term support needed by our conservation experts to carry out their work at the frontline. We provide a way for all New Zealanders to get involved and to make a lasting contribution.

What makes us unique:

  • Unconditional support - Our support is focused on where the need is most urgent, rather than on what has the most public appeal.
  • Sustainable funding - Our funding is based on a substantial central Endowment Fund which ensures sustainable support to projects and on-going returns for investor input.
  • Results oriented - Our funds work at the conservation coalface. We fund projects which make the greatest difference and which can be sustained into the future
  • Professionally managed - We are a professional non-lobby organisation, supported by acknowledged experts in their fields.
  • Independent - As an independent organisation, projects we fund are not susceptible to a shift in support, we are in it for the long-term.


Genesis of the Endangered Species Foundation

The concept of the Endangered Species Foundation of New Zealand was originally conceived 20 years ago when Mike Thorsen and his father Neil Thorsen were discussing how a shortage of funds hampered the conservation of endangered species. Neil, an experienced manager of philanthropic trusts, commented that “it wouldn't be too difficult to raise $1 million dollars for endangered species conservation”.

Mike went on to work on many endangered species projects around the world, but never forgot that comment, and in 2012 they started to put the idea into motion - with one “small” change: to raise $30 million instead. Other people and businesses saw the merit of the idea and pitched in their assistance, and now the journey begins.


Foundation Facts

  • 4,000
    endangered species
  • $1.5Million
    projected annual income
    available to save our species
  • As little as
    can save many of our
    endangered species
  • Only
    species are currently in
    conservation programmes