Making a difference

18 Sep 2020

Everyone and everything is connected and, according to Old Boy Pete Oswald (14386), if you can do something positive you should.

When Pete and his artist wife Sophie founded stationery business Little Difference one of their key drivers was their desire to make a difference.

“When we first thought about creating a business based around Sophie’s art, we knew we also wanted it to have a positive impact and so decided to find a way where we could plant a tree for every product sold.”

After considerable research, Pete and Sophie chose to support the work of non-profit Eden Reforestation Projects – and have since paid for tens of thousands of trees to be planted in Madagascar.

“Poverty drives deforestation and deforestation drives poverty. More than 90 percent of Madagascar’s forests have been destroyed, taking away the people’s ability to farm and live on the land. Reforestation projects help break the poverty cycle by providing employment, paying a living wage, and giving the Malagasy a sense of purpose and independence.”

While the cold and snow of South Island mountains are a world away from the heat and dust of Madagascar, Pete’s latest venture Ski for Trees takes his support for reforestation to new heights. He is now raising funds to plant one tree for every vertical metre he climbs in pursuit of skiing – and needs your support to reach his season goal of planting 100,000 trees. A US$20 donation will cover the cost of planting 200 trees.

Professional free skiing has been an exhilarating, rewarding and fun career that has taken Pete all over the world. He is well aware of how lucky he is and grateful he can now use his passion for skiing to help others.

“Although you wouldn’t ordinarily connect skiing in New Zealand with trees in Madagascar, somehow the idea seems to resonate with people. We all breathe the same air and we all need trees to live. Everything’s connected, we just have to join the dots ... think about what we do, how we live, and how we can make a difference.”

To find out more about Little Difference, go to

To support Pete’s Ski for Trees challenge, go to

To learn about the work of Eden Reforestation Projects, go to

Photo credits: Mark Bridgwater, Simon Reeves, Sophie Stevens