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Fools & Dreamers: Regenerating a Native Forest is a free 30-minute documentary about Hinewai Nature Reserve, on New Zealand’s Banks Peninsula, and its kaitiaki/manager of 30 years, botanist Hugh Wilson. When, in 1987, Hugh let the local community know of his plans to allow the introduced ‘weed’ gorse to grow as a nurse canopy to regenerate farmland into native forest, people were not only skeptical but outright angry – the plan was the sort to be expected only of “fools and dreamers”.

Now considered a hero locally and across the country, Hugh oversees 1500 hectares resplendent in native forest, where birds and other wildlife are abundant and 47 known waterfalls are in permanent flow. He has proven without doubt that nature knows best – and that he is no fool.

An audio description (AD) version of this film is also available. Play Fools & Dreamers with audio description.


Forest regeneration is one of the most important actions that needs to be taken globally to address the environmental crises we’re facing today.

Our hope is that people from all over the world will draw inspiration from what’s happening at Hinewai Reserve, which is why we’ve made the film free to view.

But we need your help! Please consider sharing the film with a friend, posting about it to your social networks, or host a screening in your community.



Keen to share an inspirational film with your community? How about hosting a screening of Fools & Dreamers?

We’ve made the film freely available on YouTube, but if you’re holding an event you’ll need a public screening licence. You’ll receive a high-quality download of the film, promotional materials, screening tips and a PDF invoice. It could be a free event, a fundraiser, or whatever you’d like to do. We’ll be splitting the proceeds from licence fees with Hinewai Reserve.

Film nights are a great way to connect with your community and we’ve set our fees very low to make this as accessible as possible.


The work at Hinewai Reserve is made possible in part due to generous donations from people all over the world. If you’d like to make a contribution, big or small, you can do so using the PayPal donate button (you don’t need a PayPal account, just a credit card) or by bank transfer/cheque using the details below.

Direct credit
Maurice White Native Forest Trust
BNZ Akaroa
02 0832 0044225 00

Maurice White Native Forest Trust
Hinewai Reserve
632 Long Bay Road
R.D.3 Akaroa 7583
New Zealand


The beautiful soundtrack to Fools & Dreamers, composed by Karl Steven and Ariana Tikao, is available for purchase as an album on Bandcamp. All proceeds from sales will be donated to Hinewai Reserve.

Check it out


If you enjoyed Fools & Dreamers you might like other films we’ve made. We currently have 22 other films available to watch for free that explore the themes of sustainable living, permaculture, tiny houses, interviews with inspiring people, and much more.


“Fools and Dreamers tells the most important story of our time.”
Paul Hawken, founder Project Drawdown

“Watch this natural Kiwi miracle: how the earth regenerates native bush if given half a chance.”
– Bunny McDiarmid, Executive Director Greenpeace International

“A powerful ‘call to action’ for all of us to heed.”
– Jonathon Porritt, Forum for the Future

“This is an inspirational documentary.”
– Dr Mike Joy, freshwater ecologist

“Regenerating human rights can learn from nature: it takes ‘Fools and Dreamers’ to give life a chance….”
– a personal message from Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International