December 2023 Thriving Southland Newsletter

Welcome to our December newsletter!

It’s great to see the diversity of thought and action among Southland Catchment Groups.
As 2023 races towards the finish line, there’s plenty of planning, planting and off-farm get-togethers happening.
We’re seeing how much of an impact farmer-led Catchment Groups can have with significant progress around water quality and landscape issues, not to mention the wealth of interest from all over New Zealand about what’s being achieved. This month, it was rewarding to see Catchment Groups so heavily involved in the SERN field-day (more on that below).
Catchment Groups are leading the way around being a farmer voice, helping to inform and support their local communities to navigate change. Groups are also sharing information in areas as diverse as understanding their landscape to how best to tackle pest animal control.
As it’s planting season, there will be thousands of new native plants going into the ground around the region. It’s awesome to see Groups recognising that they go hand in hand with pest weed and animal control - along with ongoing maintenance - to make sure new plantings thrive.
And finally, of course, it’s a really busy social season, so we hope you can make time to get along to those crucial end of year get-togethers!

Makarewa Headwaters Catchment Group TV appearances

The Makarewa Headwaters Catchment Group have had some fantastic TV appearances around their Makarewa Headwaters Revival Project. Check out one of the stories here.

Reimagining a low emissions future for Murihiku Southland: workshops

Join NZAGRC for a series of workshops in February to explore different scenarios for a low emissions future in Southland.  This is your chance to provide your input, network with other farmers and growers, test different scenarios and have your voice presented to decision-makers in this space. 
Costs are covered by the NZAGRC, and morning tea and lunch will be provided.

Register your interest now at Don't miss this opportunity to make a difference and share your thoughts on a crucial topic.

Thriving Southland Christmas Competition

Ever wondered what projects Catchment Groups are doing?

We've compiled an overview of some great example of projects, funded by Thriving Southland and delivered by Catchment Groups, in a handy book. It's a one-stop shop for project ideas and for at-a-glance examples of the amazing things happening in Southland. 

Download the book at

Thriving Southland AGM a success

It was lovely to see everyone who attended the Winton Salvation Army Hall for the Thriving Southland AGM on 15 November. It was a great opportunity to look back on the past year and think about what lies ahead.
We were fascinated to hear from guest speaker Mike Casey from Forest Lodge Orchard, who is pioneering the world's first 100% electric, zero fossil fuel orchard, giving a balanced and pragmatic view of the possibilities for NZ agriculture to be leading in this area.

Find out more about Forest Lodge Orchard here.

Three Rivers Catchment Group AGM and dinner

The Three Rivers Catchment Group is pumped and firing for our next calendar year. Committee members, covering Glenham, Mokoreta, Mimihau and the Edendale Terraces attended their AGM and enjoyed a dinner at the Three Rivers Hotel.
They worked through what the Group had achieved since its inception in 2016, and redefined where the Group plan to head. Their first event was on 21 November, with Dr. Clint Rissmann from Land and Water Sciences speaking on 'what’s under our feet'.

South Coast Catchment Group

We had an inspiring session with Dr. Clint Rissmann, who, using detailed maps of the catchment, illuminated the geology of our land, highlighting various soil types, rock formations, slope areas, water flow patterns, and potential erosion risks. His enthusiasm for the diverse biophysical features within our catchment was palpable, and we are all eager to explore further.

After Clint's presentation, our Group brainstormed various ideas and plans. Among them, we are looking at a handbook that outlines mitigations to slow down overland flow, capturing particulates (sediment, phosphorus, and pathogens) to reduce contaminants reaching our waterways. Additionally, we're planning a field day to identify the 'Source,' 'Pathway,' and how to reduce the impact. One exciting idea on our radar is researching the local freshwater crayfish and their habitat requirements. Stay tuned for more updates as we turn these ideas into action!

By using the Source, Pathway, Receiving Environment model we can easily identify the most effective place/s to deploy mitigations. Often, the most effective solution is one that consists of many smaller structures (e.g., check dams) along the ephemeral streams in smaller watersheds, rather than building one big, expensive 'Clyde Dam' at the bottom of the catchment.

Lots of native plants off to new homes in the Mid Oreti

About 2500 native plants have found new homes through the 2023 Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement. These plants have been grown by the Mid Oreti Catchment Group at the AB Lime Nursery and looked after by a band of keen volunteers at our monthly drop-in sessions.
And some were bought from Te Tapu o Tāne using a Westpac Watercare Project grant the Group successfully applied for.

Schools, community groups and private landowners from the Mid Oreti area were invited to apply for the plants, and the Group were blown away with the many applications they received.
Due to keen local interest, a few applications from outside the area had to be turned down this year, and the Group hopes other local Catchment Groups can help these keen native plant hunters to find the plants they need for their special places.

Each successful applicant was given a range of native plants from 30 to 400 (depending on what they wanted), and projects included planting out sediment traps, community spaces, riparian areas, boundaries, providing bird habitat, enhancing wetlands, carbon storage, education, community engagement, and improving biodiversity and water quality. Many are aiming for autumn plantings, so the plants will be looked after by volunteers at the monthly drop-in sessions at the AB Lime Nursery until their new owners are ready to pick them up.
Schools and community groups are being given some extra help by the Mid Oreti Catchment Group to help them get their plants in the ground, and there maybe some community days that you (or your business) can help at if you are keen?  Just let Ainsley know – 020 4113 2212.

To top off a great month, we had a great drop-in session where we re-potted 300 manuka plants into bigger pots for the Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement.

Greater Dipton – Community Social Wellbeing Evening and BBQ with Kristie Simpson

A fabulous evening in Dipton on 10 November when the Group gathered for their annual post calving and lambing wellbeing event. The evening began with some kai and chance to reconnect, and we were then joined by our speaker, superwoman Kristie Simpson.

Kristie is a national and international netball umpire, having this season reached a record breaking 120 national league games. Kristie and her husband Logan farm on Kristie’s family’s sheep, beef and dairy grazing properties in Tokanui, with Kristie working full time on the farm.

Thanks Kristie for joining us to share your story, a fabulous evening that was enjoyed by more than 30 people. It was also great to have a few young aspiring umpires and netballers in the room, I’m sure they were inspired by your journey.

Busy times for the Oreti Catchment Groups

November has been a busy time for the Oreti Catchment Groups. Greater Dipton were asked to speak at the Southland NZIPIM and Wao Summit on the Carbon Neutral Dipton Project.  They are happy to come and speak to any of your groups on this project and take Carbon Neutral Dipton On Tour!

Mid Oreti and Makarewa Headwaters Catchment Groups were invited to give lunchtime talks on their biodiversity projects at the Southland Ecological Restoration Network (SERN) Spring field trip – A Meander through Central Southland Bus Trip with a focus on riparian restoration. Mid Oreti spoke about their Mini Forest Movement and upcoming Marshalling The Best project – all about finding great sites for wetlands, sediment traps and run off detainment bunds in the Winton Stream Catchment.
Makarewa Headwaters spoke about their Makarewa Headwaters Revival Project; reducing the impact of large feral pest animals on their catchment.
Sarah also gave an update on all of the great things the Oreti Catchment Groups are up to in 2023 at the annual get together of the New River Estuary Forum.

Thank you to Clare, Lynden, Sarah, Ainsley and Elspeth for making time to do these talks on your weekends and evenings.  It is brilliant that you are getting out there and spreading the word about the great work you and your Catchment Groups are doing, and we really appreciate you giving up your time to do it.

If you are keen for your groups to hear about these projects, contact these Catchment Groups directly, or phone Sarah on 027 588 5200.

Waikaia Catchment Group Project – Understanding water quality

Waikaia Catchment Group got together this month for the Waikaia Project, a catchment wide water quality project which lays the foundations for long-term self-funded monitoring of tributaries and builds knowledge around water quality, mitigation options and a catchment plan.

Justin Kitto from DairyNZ and Chris Beatson from AgriMagic both presented on the analysis from the recent water quality and eDNA sampling completed in the catchment. Kate Scott from LandPro joined the discussion around upcoming regulation. It was a fabulous event with excellent group of farmers involved in the great project.

Otamita Catchment Group get some water sampling tips and tricks

Otamita Catchment Group met at the Mandeville Country Club to hear Justin Kitto from DairyNZ dissect the previous catchment wide eDNA and water quality sampling. Justin also guided the group through their own on-farm water quality testing lab sheets, and tips and tricks for using the Thriving Southland Stream health kit. There were some exciting finds in the eDNA results, which the group are looking to explore further.

Otama Catchment Group Christmas community BBQ

Friday 1 December
Otama Hall
This is a fabulous opportunity to come along and connect after a busy period on-farm.

Wendon Catchment Group Christmas community BBQ

Sunday 3 December
Wendon Hall

This is a fabulous opportunity to come along and connect after a busy period on-farm.

ACE Monthly Meeting

5 December
Abe de Wolde offices - corner of Hundred Line and Bayswater Roads

ACE's monthly meeting - Christmas Style! All welcome - informal discussion about ACE's next projects, followed by a BBQ and a good old Aparima catch up.

Mid Oreti Catchment Group - Mini Forest Movement Native Plant Nursery drop-in session (first Tuesday of every month)

Tuesday 5 December, from 4pm to 7pm
AB Lime Nursery, 10 Bend Road, Winton
All welcome to our final monthly native plant-growing working-bee evening for the year. We have a few different ideas for the evening, so please check our Facebook page before you head on down - Mid Oreti Facebook page. All training provided. Stay for as little or as long as you like.

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


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