July 2023 Thriving Southland Newsletter

Welcome to our July Newsletter

Settle in with a hot cuppa, this is one of our longer issues.

George and Hamish Ramsay have a dig at Jacobs River Estuary

Momentum is a fascinating concept — and there’s no doubt that when you’ve got it, you need to keep things rolling!
It’s been a fantastic month of Catchment Group events, celebrations and recognition of hard work that is achieving real on-the-ground wins around Southland.
During June, the Aparima Community Environment Group celebrated the culmination of three years of incredible effort with its ACE’ing It! events at Riverton and Otautau.

Can you believe there’s been 53 events held by ACE in past three years?
Presenters talked about the four workstreams - lifting farmer and community awareness and engagement through stream walks and water testing, building sediment traps, exploring future farm systems, and farm environment plans/implementing good farming practice.

There is so much to take from this amazing initiative - and all the “building our future together with our community project” case studies are available on the ACE section of the Thriving Southland website.
A few take aways from the ACE’ing it event were:

  • We have achieved lots by working together to tackle our own issues - and help take people past the fear of change.

  • Our community is more pro-active and engaging - and working positively ahead of regulation.

  • Discussions in the real world: at the farm, in the water - and learnings that are worth sharing with Catchment Groups around NZ.

  • Sediment trap projects are looking successful - showing that smaller scale traps and wetlands can be really effective.

  • The magnitude of small wins was surprising - with significant reductions in Nitrogen achieved over a year with minimal changes to farm system.

  • Talking to people one-on-one can get engagement and really great results.

  • FEPs empowered people to make better on farm decisions.

We reckon a lot of this will be sounding pretty familiar to Catchment Groups right across Southland.
Among a huge amount of recent activity, the Wendon Catchment Group held an excellent native plant workshop, while the Between The Domes Catchment Group got legendary netballer Wendy Frew in for a winter wellbeing event, and the Three Rivers Catchment Group visiting four different wintering systems.
We’re also stoked with some feedback we’ve had from the Ministry for the Environment, which you can have a read of below!

Thriving Southland moving to new offices

If you want to pop in and say hi to the Thriving Southland team, you'll now find them at 25 on Don (25 Don Street). We're excited to be joining the Southland Chamber of Commerce and Coin South.

Environment Select Committee talks positively about Southland Catchment Group projects

Thriving Southland and Southland’s Catchment Groups were brought up recently at an Environment Select Committee. It’s great to get our work noticed and positively commented on.
You can have a look at the briefing here and/or read the Thriving Southland case study below.

ACE’ing it and Hedgehope Makarewa Understanding Our Landscape  grabs the headlines

Fantastic to see the ACE’ing it! story hit the front page of the Southland Times in June. Read the story here.

Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group project highlighted

Have a read about how Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group’s 'Understanding Our Land to Drive Change' project has helped Southern Cross Produce make better management decisions. Read the story here

Southland Food & Fibre Project Launched

We have just launched the Southland Food and Fibre Project to help shape a brighter future for Southland by exploring the untapped possibilities of the food and fibre sector.  

We need your help to identify commercially viable opportunities that will strengthen the value and resilience of our regional food and fibre sector, create new jobs, and potentially support the growth of new food and fibre industries.

Tell us your ideas using really easy-to-use online tool by the end of July. We’ve already provided nine possible categories and we’d love to know where you think the opportunities might be.  

From August, we’ll take the great ideas we’ve received, and will narrow them down through a workshop-style event. Together, we'll identify barriers and opportunities, and fine-tune the long list of ideas to a shorter, more refined one. We'll then present the workshop recommendations to an Advisory Group, who will approve the top ten opportunities for a deep dive.

Please help us share this project with the community to get amazing ideas that could leverage Southland's unique characteristics to drive economic growth and grow the value and resilience of our regional food and fibre sector.  If you’d like to promote this opportunity through your networks, please do not hesitate to reach out. We can provide you with design assets to help spread the word. 

To find out more, visit or visit

2023 Environment Southland Community Awards open

Do you know one of Southland’s environmental champions? You can help recognise and celebrate their hard work by nominating them for the 2023 Environment Southland Community Awards.
The nomination process can either be done online or you can fill out a form and drop it into the Environment Southland reception. Judges will visit most nominees, where they will hear and see first-hand about the wonderful mahi happening in our region.
You can find a copy of the nomination form here.
There are seven different categories and great cash prizes to be won. Nominees will be celebrated at an awards dinner on Thursday 19 October, at the Ascot Park Hotel.
Nominations close Friday 14 July. If you have questions, please phone
0800 76 88 45 or email

Titiroa Catchment Group Wetland Field Trip

An excellent day out with the Titiroa Catchment Group. The Group checked out three wetland sites, a peat bog, recently constructed wetland, and developed wetlands and native plantings.

Key takeaways from the field day included:

  • being happy with the 'transition phase' of building a wetland

  • understanding what your purpose is for developing the wetland, as this will impact the design

  • both Environment Southland and Southland Fish and Game have excellent resources and funding pathways to support wetland development.

Mid Oreti Catchment Group Seed Collection and Animal Pest Control Workshop

It was a lovely evening sharing information, tips and tricks! We went up to Motu Ngahere and learnt about pest control and wandered along their awesome track.
We collected seeds, then came back to the AB Lime nursery to learn how to process and plant up the seeds.  Massive thanks to Brad and Ainsley from AB Lime for hosting and sharing your wisdom.

Three learnings:

  • process the tree seeds using a sieve, get rid of as much flesh by pushing it though the sieve and the seeds, skin and any leaves can be popped onto paper towels to dry out

  • you can store seed that you’ve processed in peat and freeze them until you need them

  • to help sprinkle the seed out in the trays, mix with some soil or peat so the seeds don’t all stick together.

Wendon Catchment Group Native plant growing workshop and nursery visit

Wendon Catchment Group held their Native Plant workshop at the end of May. Wowee what a cracker event! This hands-on event attracted members from five different Catchment groups around Southland.
Native plant enthusiast Sandra Campbell kicked off the afternoon with a run through of how she got started with her on-farm native nursery. Ainsley Adams and Brad Gibson from AB Lime spoke about the Mid Oreti Catchment Group mini-forest movement, and the ins-and-outs of seed collection, processing and starting.
We finished the afternoon off with an inspiring visit to Howards Nursery in Wendonside. This amazing native plant nursery is the passion project of Jeannie and Sandro Dyer. Sandro spoke about how they get their healthy plants off to a good start. Thanks to all the speakers, and to those who came along to the workshop.

Orepuki water quality findings and beach clean-up at King’s Birthday

A King's Birthday long weekend done Catchment Group-style with the Orepuki Catchment Group’s, Water Quality and Community beach clean-up day. Something learnt, something done and something yum! Thanks to BNZ for some $$ to get us a couple of wee spot prizes for interesting rubbish finds and some nibbles afterwards.

Mini Forest Movement Open Evening with Mid Oreti Catchment Group

What a beautiful evening to hang out with some lovely people and do some great work at the nursery at the June drop-in session. We got everything done at the nursery - seedlings weeded, more potted up and plants counted and catalogued for planting out over the next few years. Join us next month, all information on Mid Oreti Catchment Group Facebook page.

Between The Domes Winter wellbeing event with Wendy Frew

A fabulous evening in Mossburn with Between the Domes in early June. After an update on what the Group had been up to from co-chair Angela we heard from legendary Southland netballer Wendy Frew. We then heard from the Southland Rural Support Trust about the services they offer and how they operate. The Group organised a fantastic raffle to raise money for the Southland Rural Support Trust, which they donated at the end of the night.

South Coast Catchment Group Farming for Profit and Planet evening

A rainy night couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm for making a positive impact on the environment when the South Coast Catchment Group gathered in Otara in June. We braved the weather to hear from two speakers. Richard Kyte, the Thriving Southland Project Lead, shared exciting projects happening within the Catchment Group space, and Jason Miller, a farmer and member of the Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group, wore multiple hats as he captivated us with his experiences.

Jason emphasised the importance of being part of a Catchment Group, stating, "We aren't in this alone. Together, we can achieve so much more”.  The evening was full of great discussions, and the Group generated some fantastic ideas for their future direction.

Three Rivers Catchment Group Wintering Tour checks out four systems

The Three Rivers Catchment Group toured their catchment in mid-June, visiting four different wintering systems: a composting barn, grass and baleage system, cows on crop, and sheep on crop. The weather held off for us, and we ended up at the local pub for a great feed.
Particularly interesting was the innovative techniques we discovered at the composting barn, the visit to the grass/baleage system built on maintaining BCS and balancing environmental regulation. Observing cows and sheep on crop during the past two stops highlighted how important winter crops are to many farms across the catchment, and the factors that go into a successful winter. A huge thank you to all those that opened their farms up to us for the wintering tour.

Lower Oreti Catchment Group Stream Health Field Day and Water Quality Chat

This was a great local event learning two quick and easy ways to figure out the health of our waterways - MCI (Macroinvertebrate Community Index) and RHA (Rapid Habitat Assessment). The Group are holding a local competition to get people using these tools, and will choose spots in the catchment to visit later in the year.  Thanks to Rob and Erica from Environment Southland, and Justin from DairyNZ, for their specialist knowledge and support. And to Georgie and Stacey for organising, and Gail for the lovely food!

Lower Oreti Catchment Group – Wintering Field Day

Friday 30 June from 12.30pm to 2.30pm
Marshalls Farm (791 Argyle Otahuti Road) 

Keen to learn more about a kale and multispecies wintering system, with block grazing and baleage as supplement, then join the Lower Oreti Catchment Group for an informative and useful wintering event, followed by a hot drink and cake.  Your chance to hear the facts, figures and top tips, and get your questions answered. All welcome.

Waihopai Catchment Group Wetland and Sediment Trap Field Day

4 July, from 1pm to 3pm

Meet at Alisdair O’Reilly's place at 728 Dacre Morton Mains Rd (we will travel using our own cars to two other nearby sites)

Join the Waihopai Catchment Group for an informative and useful field day looking at a wetland and sediment trap, followed by afternoon tea.  Your chance to get some ideas for your place, and your questions answered.  Supported by Fonterra and Environment Southland. All welcome.

Mini Forest Movement Open Evening (first Tuesday of every month)

4 July, 4pm to 6pm
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.

Mid Oreti Catchment Group - Wintering Around Winton

12 July, from 1pm - Winton-Hedgehope Highway in Browns and 2.30pm
466 Winton-Lorneville Highway. Look for the flags at the gates.

Come and hear about Year 3 of the AB Lime Composting Wintering Barn journey, the changes made to combat last year’s issues and find out how the first lot of composted material was used.  Then head to Lochiel to learn about wintering deer at Cam and Christina Nelson’s farm (466 Winton Lorneville Highway). Complimentary BBQ and first 30 coffees free.

Orauea River Catchment Group Planning Event - ‘Putting Science into Action’ – what’s next for the Group?

Wednesday 12 July, 2.30pm until 5pm
Orawia Community Hall – afternoon tea supplied

Between the Domes Community Planning Session – What do you want from your Catchment Group?

Monday 17 July, from 2pm to 5pm
Lumsden RSA Hall – afternoon tea supplied

Between the Domes Catchment Group are excited to work closely with AgRecovery on a bale wrap collection scheme. The pilot project has just been launched. There are collection sites open in Te Anau, Mossburn and Lumsden where bale wrap can be dropped off for free. A new site coming soon at Lady Barkley. All the bale wrap collected will be processed at Recycle South.

Carbon Neutral Dipton Project Outcomes Field Day

18 July, from 1pm, starting 1.30pm and BBQ at 5pm
Dipton Memorial Hall

Join us to learn about this amazing project, hear from expert consultants about the results of the project and engage directly with the farmers involved. Arrive from 1pm (starting 1.30pm) with BBQ sponsored by Alliance starting at 5pm. Welcome to come and go throughout the event.

RSVP to by 14 July.

Three Rivers Catchment Group Rural Hall Party

26 July
We have the date. We have the band. Now we need the location.  Vote for your favourite hall at

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 July,
Ngā mihi
Richard Kyte (Thriving Southland Project Lead) and the Thriving Southland Team


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