April 2023 Thriving Southland Newsletter

Welcome to our April Newsletter

It’s been a busy few weeks with project launches, field days and heaps of other Catchment Group activities happening throughout the region.

The Greater Dipton Catchment Group’s Carbon Neutral Dipton launch was a big success, with more than 50 people attending to hear about the variety of farm systems involved and the potential for reducing environmental footprint, options available, and keeping a good eye on farm resilience.

It was great to hear from the case study farmers involved, who are getting support and inspiration from buddy groups.

The Beyond Regulation ‘Finding the right pathway forward for you and your business’ Project, with funding from AgMardt, also ramped up this month, with the first of three case study farms hosting a field day.

They combine knowledge about soil profiles and landscape susceptibilities with farm systems information and modelling, alongside farmer visions and aspirations. And have found this approach is key to focusing on the challenges and moving beyond regulation.

What may seem difficult around lowering environmental impact becomes more realistic and practical to achieve when using the available farm specific landscape science linked to the farm system – all while keeping an eye on financial resilience. The goals of farmers sometimes get lost among policy conversations. This project puts a real onus on the human factor which is so important.

The Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group have also been out and about sharing what they have discovered through their project ‘Understanding our Landscape to Drive Change’. The project uses science and local knowledge to understand how variation in landscape characteristics drives water quality outcomes which leads to confidence when investing in on-farm mitigations.

And lots of other Catchment Groups are working hard to find out what changes people want and what is needed, and there’s lots of great events coming up in April too.

Our very own Vice Chair, Kate Scott, has been named the 2023 recipient of the Rabobank Emerging Leader award, recognising outstanding up-and-coming agri-industry talent. Great work Kate from the whole Thriving Southland team!

Have a great Easter, we hope the Easter bunny is good to you!

Kate Scott

Great response to annual Thriving Southland survey

We received more than 200 responses to the survey - a big thank you to everyone who completed it. The survey helps guide us in our mission to support and empower Catchment Groups throughout Southland. The winner of the $100 Grocery Voucher is Claire Burgess from South Hillend, Dipton - congrats Claire!

Catchment Groups in the news during March

Hedgehope farmer Simon Topham checking out the new catchment map to get to know his land and what approaches suit best when making decisions around green house gas emissions and water quality.

It’s great to see word of Catchment Group projects and achievements getting out and about through the media and we’ve seen some great yarns during the month - including Greater Dipton Catchment Group Chair Lynden Prebble chatting to Rural Exchange about the Carbon Neutral Dipton project - listen here.

The Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group were also talking to Stuff about their project ‘Understanding our Landscape to Drive Change’ - read the story here.

Catchment group profile

Otama Catchment Group

When did the Catchment Group start?

The Group started in July 2022 with a core group of interested farmers

How many members and who?

There are about 20 people in the Group so far, in a catchment that is a mix of arable, sheep, beef and dairy. They also hope to involve the Otama school community.

What’s been happening?

The group held their initial meeting in July 2022 with a potluck dinner and an introduction to understanding catchment groups with Kevin Hall from the wider Three Rivers Catchment Group. They held a GHG ‘Know your number’ workshop with Beef & Lamb, and in February, the Group heard Clint Rissmann, from Land and Water Science, present science-based information on how water moves through the Otama catchment, and the role the landscape plays in influencing water quality. More recently, they are planning to work with the Otama school to fence and plant their stream.

How best to get in touch?

Group contacts are Sue Miller on 0272789711, Tessa Miller on 0277028349
(Thriving Southland Catchment Coordinator) and Angus Hamilton on 0211595125.

Recent events

Mid Oreti Catchment Group - Mini forest movement nursery open evening and annual get-together

Mid Oreti Catchment Group ran their first nursery drop-in session for the year this month to bring on more native plants for their Mid Oreti Mini Forest project. Heaps of seedlings were potted up!

Following the potting, the Catchment Group did a bit of planning for the year and came up with some fab ideas for projects and events. They are going to follow this up with a survey to capture ideas from members who weren’t at the meeting.

The seedling potting is going to become a regular drop-in session at the ABLime Nursery (10 Bend Road, Winton), every first Tuesday of the month from 4pm to 7pm. All training provided.  It’s a great chance to learn some new skills, and all volunteers are able to take home one potted native plant each time they help out.

Otamita Catchment Group - Our catchment’s stream health: what do we know so far?

4Sight Consulting recently gave a presentation on the Macroinvertebrate Community Index (MCI) testing completed to assess water quality in the Otamita catchment. The group learned MCI is a highly effective tool for evaluating the health of aquatic ecosystems, as macroinvertebrates are sensitive to small changes in water quality.

The presentation highlighted the value of monitoring, and included an overview of the eDNA and water testing completed by the farmers. The MCI results looked great, so well done to Otamita Catchment Group and keep up the good work!

Waimatuku Catchment Group - Beach clean-up a great afternoon

What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Waimatuku Catchment Group came out in force in March for the Waimatuku Beach Clean-up. It feels great to help clean up our back yard! Thanks to BNZ’s catchment grant, which got us some ice-creams and treats to enjoy after the hard work was done, as well as some spot prizes for fun, cool and weird litter that was collected.

A special thank you to Bronwyn from Sustainable Coastlines. She shared some of the great work being done around litter collection, reducing litter and making long term change.

Carbon Neutral Dipton - Launch draws more than 50 people to Dipton Golf Club

It was exciting to officially launch this project in mid-March at the Dipton Golf Club. About 50 attendees came to hear about the project and find out more about the people involved. Attendees heard from the projects consultants about GHG’s and their significance on farm and had a quick 101 on the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). They then had a chance to meet the case study farmers and find out more about who they were and why they had become involved. 

Work started on this project back in September and the funding bid to Thriving Southland was accepted in November. Since then there has been a lot of work going on in the background; securing the case study farmers, appointing farm (Chris Beatson from AgriMagic) and forestry (Don Frengley) consultants and a project manager (Alexis Wadworth). 

The consultants will be working together with the five case study farmers (three sheep and beef and two dairy), each with some buddies (neighbours who share and learn at the farm sessions).

Following farm modelling using Overseer and Farmax these farmers and their buddies, will be brainstorming exciting ways to reduce GHG emissions on their farms. 

Over the next five months they will come up with what they want to tackle and how they want to make it happen. The consultants will be on hand to help model and evaluate the different ideas. The farms might look at planting trees to sequester carbon, retiring or intensifying different parts of the farm, or changing livestock numbers/policies to reduce GHG’s… we’re right at the start of the journey.  To find out more about the project go to -  You can also follow our journey on our Facebook page:

Balfour Catchment Group - Targeted solutions to environmental challenges

The Land and Water Science team were out and about with Catchment Groups again this month, visiting Balfour Project farmers Shane and Justin Roy who are involved in the erosion side of the project. The last ground-truthing hole has been dug for the N-loss workstream. The next step is to lock in a date for presenting this data to the Group! Keep an eye on Thriving Southland’s website for details.

Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group - ‘Understanding Our Landscape to Drive Change’ Field days

SDH Field Day

After three years of hard work, Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group have been out and about sharing what they have discovered through their project ‘Understanding our Landscape to Drive Change’. The project uses science and local knowledge to understand how variation in landscape characteristics drives water quality outcomes.

Claymore Dairies and Roslyn Downs Field Day

Using radiometrics to create high-resolution hydrological layers, it helps landowners understand their catchment and develop practical solutions to meet upcoming regulatory changes.

In March they ran sessions at the Southern Dairy Hub Field Day, along with a great field day at the Miller’s Farms – Claymore Dairies and Roslyn Downs, and have developed a free resource for farmers.

Find out more here:

Beyond Regulation Field Day draws a large turnout at the Clarke’s property

This was the first field day for the ‘Beyond Regulation - Finding the right pathway forward for you and your business’ project.

There was a good turnout at Steven and Hayley Clarke’s property where they heard about how soil profiles and landscape susceptibility’s, combined with farm systems information and modelling, could be aligned alongside farmer visions and aspirations. It’s going to be really exciting to see how this knowledge empowers farmers to make on the ground changes. Watch this space for details of an upcoming field day around similar principles on a sheep and beef property.

Fantastic Oreti Bus Trip

The brainchild of the seven Oreti Catchment Groups, the Oreti bus trip rocked as it explored four amazing sites across the Mid and Lower Oreti - New River Estuary, Gavin MacPherson's constructed wetland, Marshalls Farm and Kowhai Reach.  

The Groups wanted to raise awareness and understanding of the health of the Oreti catchment and what is being done to look after it. Dr Jane Kitson (Scientist, local and New River Estuary Forum), Nuwan DeSilva (Environment Southland) and Sarah Thorne (New River Estuary Forum and Thriving Southland) shared the story of health of New River Estuary.

The bus then took them on a catchment sightseeing tour, to see the good work that is going on; making and looking after wetlands - Gavin Macpherson (farmer) and Zane Moss (Southland Fish & Game), great farming and wintering - Georgie Galloway (farmer), and the importance of looking after our special places - Jesse Bythell (QEII National Trust). 

Many thanks to our amazing speakers, hosts and Catchment Group members that made this trip possible. It was a pleasure to have students from Hedgehope and Limehills Schools on the trip, and Graham and Gail’s lunch was fantastic.

The Oreti Catchment Groups are thinking about planning one for the Upper Oreti next, and will share the Mid and Lower Oreti booklet on  Contact Sarah on 0275885200  if you like a paper copy.

If you would like to run a bus trip in your patch and share some top tips, special places, demonstrations and knowledge, just speak to your Thriving Southland Catchment Coordinator.

Upcoming events

Waimatuku Catchment Group Stream Walk – Receiving Environments

4 April, from 1pm to 3pm

Meet at the corner of McGaw and Rance Road, Waimatuku (look for the ACE sign when you drive up the road)

Tea, coffee and lunch provided

Guest speaker, Jesse Bythell from QEII and ES bio-diversity team. We’ll be looking at the processes of ‘re-wetting’ a wetland and regenerating native bush blocks.

Mid Oreti Catchment Group - Mini Forest Movement Open Evening

4pm to 7pm, first Tuesday of every month
4 April, from 4pm to 7pm
AB Lime Nursery, 10 Bend Road, Winton

The Mid Oreti Catchment Group are hosting open working-bee evenings at the AB Lime Nursery. Your help will go toward growing plants for the Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement Project which aims to provide native plants to the local community and landowners for their planting projects. Training is provided and all ages welcome!

Stay for as little or as long as you can.  At the moment we’re focusing on potting up seedlings but in the future seed preparing and sowing, weeding and moving plants will be required.

Pourakino Catchment Group - Stream Walk

13 April, from 11am to 1pm
Location and more details to come. Keep an eye on the Thriving Southland events calendar.

Guest speakers include Justin Kitto, DairyNZ freshwater specialist and, Ryan Easton, Otago University. We’ll be electro fishing!

ACE and Waimatuku Catchment Group – Sediment trap field day

18 April

Otautau – Drummond Road. Keep an eye out on the website for more details.

We’ll be revisiting a series of sediment traps constructed at the start of ACE’s 3-year community project and looking at new potential sites. Hear from Craig Simpson, Wetland specialist and some of the learning that the Pomahaka Group have had around their sediment traps.

Balfour Catchment Group – Balfour Project Case Study Farm Visit

Wednesday 19 April, from 3pm

Andrea and Chris Bulleids property. 

We will be presenting the science and looking at the proposed wetland area.

Orauea River Catchment Group - Evening with Land and Water Science

4 April, from 7pm

Orauea Community Hall

The Orauea River Catchment Group have been working on a project 'Understanding the geology, prioritising and defining solutions to sediment and E.Coli in the Orauea River', to give land users information and confidence to mitigate losses.

Join the Catchment Group for an evening presentation by Clint Rissmann of Land and Water Science who will be chatting through how mapping components have been combined to create a Catchment prioritisation map.

There are likely to be more events in the pipeline so make sure you check out the events section on the Thriving Southland website and the Facebook page for details.

Have a great April,

Ngā mihi

Richard Kyte (Thriving Southland Project Lead) and the Thriving Southland Team


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