Te Matua Ngahere, a giant kauri tree growing in the Waipoua Forest, North Island, New Zealand
© Kim Westerskov/Getty Image
50 years of Earth Day
For Mother Earth's big day, we're shining the spotlight on a tree known as 'Father of the Forest,' or Te Matua Ngahere in the Maori language. This giant kauri tree lives in the Waipoua Forest of New Zealand's North Island. At more than 1,500 years old and more than 52 feet around, it's one of the oldest trees in New Zealand and one of the largest. It's long been revered by the Maori, and is protected by Maori elders.
We suspect this ancient tree must have some extra bounce in its branches today for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. On this day in 1970, some 20 million Americans rallied in communities across the nation to raise awareness of environmental issues. The landmark event is credited for sparking passage in the 1970s of the most comprehensive environmental reform legislation in US history, including the creation of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Earth Day is now celebrated in nearly 200 countries and has grown to include Earth Week and even Earth Month celebrations. That's all good news for Earth's residents, big and small.