July 2024 Thriving Southland Newsletter

You might notice a bit of a theme about Catchment Group happenings in June!
That’s right, most of them are inside. It’s been a wet month for all of Southland, and I know that we’re hoping to dry out a bit during July.
Having said that, some hardy souls donned jackets to check out Dot and Geoff Stevens’ manmade wetlands at Acton Downs, near Mossburn. The homemade baking afterwards was probably enough of an attraction to be fair.
And it was amazing to see all the mums at the Central Southland Toy Library help put 200 native plants in the ground at the toy library. Read more below about the 1000s of plants already in the ground thanks to the Mid Oreti Catchment Group and their amazing supporters.
It was obviously a great month for planning ahead, with project ideas being worked on at various workshops and AGMs. The launch of the Edendale Aquifer Project was another real highlight, more on that below.
We’re past the shortest day, so that’s something to celebrate! Happy reading.

Resource of the Month - Family Farm Succession Planning Guide

Last year Thriving Southland commissioned research that explored family farm succession.
One assumption underlying this research is that younger farmers want and need to farm differently from their parents. The New Zealand literature suggests that, to some extent, this is true – younger farmers are less risk-averse, more influenced by social norms, and less focused on financial outcomes - but there’s so many more factors to take into account.
The NZIER Study titled 'Exploring positive family farm succession', delves into the intricacies of passing the farming torch, and unpacks the factors that pave the way for a positive family farm succession journey, from communication strategies to financial viability.
The full report gives more detail and context to each of the factors and can be read here

Nominations open for 2024 Environment Southland Community Awards

Do you know passionate Southland farmers undertaking great environmental work that deserves to be recognised? If you do, now’s the time to nominate individuals and groups for the 2024 Environment Southland Community Awards.
With seven categories celebrating individual, rural, education, community and business successes, nominations are welcomed from the Southland community. People can nominate themselves and their own projects or another person, group or business.
Making a nomination is easy – head to to complete the online form before 14 July. For more information, visit our website or email us at

Balfour Catchment Group ticks off Phase Two of their major Project!

The Balfour Catchment Group had a successful turnout for Dr. Clint Rissman’s presentation of the Balfour Project Phase Two report.

Phase Two was an extension of the N-Loss workstream of the original project. It focused on identifying what the dominant pathways are for N-Loss to enter both the Longridge, and Waimea Streams, and establishing a priority list for edge of field mitigations.
The Balfour Fan farmers have had an intense 10 months of compiling drainage maps for the fan, water quality sampling, flow testing, and soil pit digging.

The end result is a fantastic community science report, “which has given the community and farmers the confidence to move forward for the first time in 20years” David Stevens. With the support of the DairyNZ Waimea project, many of the farmers are keen to get going with substantial on farm mitigations and more.

Our Land and Water, Food, Farming and Freshwater Roadshow hosted by ACE (Aparima Community Environment)

We had an incredible day and turnout at last week’s event. With five amazing speakers from Our Land and Water sharing valuable insights, we left with some food for thought.

  • There's a huge amount of resources out there!

  • Full implementation of new practices is a long-term project. Start small and build momentum over time.

  • Collaboration is key! Working as a catchment is a great opportunity to combine, build and develop resources.

  • Let's view our challenges as opportunities. 

A huge thank you to our speakers and everyone who attended. And of course a big shout out to the team at Otautau Connect for hosting us!

South Coast Catchment Group join up with the Tokanui Rural Women for a Recycle Round-Up

We had an awesome day out with the Tokanui Rural Women and the South Coast Catchment Group last month, hearing from waste expert Kate Fenwick from Waste-Ed. While Kate was in Tokanui, she presented at a women’s workshop around sustainable sanitary products, to the Tokanui School, and then presented at an evening event on recycling on-farm. A huge well-done to the organising crew – and great to see everything, right down to the edible coffee cups were accounted for!

Source to Stream Workshop all go at Titiroa Catchment Group

This was an exciting way to spend a rainy day, exploring farm-scale maps for property owners in the Titiroa Catchment with Land and Water Science. Thank you to the Fortrose Cafe and Restaurant for a delicious lunch and wonderful venue. See you at the follow up field day on 4 July.

There were some great takeaways, including:

  • Identify the most productive areas of you farm and where you farm most intensively.

  • Look at where your main source of nutrients might be. What is the SOURCE, where is the PATHWAY, and what is the RECEIVING ENVIRONMENT.

Lots of fresh ideas at Three Rivers Catchment Group AGM

The Three Rivers Catchment Group held their AGM in early June. The Group had a lot to discuss, with the creation of a new 'Sub-Group' under the Three Rivers banner; the Edendale Aquifer Group. The Group explored a plan to work more closely with Menzies College, and plans to restore areas across the catchment. The Three Rivers Group have already jumped at the chance, working with Hayley Clarke and the Menzies Outdoor Education Class, to plant native trees.

Edendale Aquifer Catchment Group Launch Event

The Edendale Aquifer Group (EAG) recently formed and held a community evening to launch the Group. They have identified nitrogen as their key challenge in their area and are working on a new project to find local solutions to reduce nitrogen loss in their Catchment, supported by Fonterra, DairyNZ and Thriving Southland.

For more information, or to get on their email list, get in touch with the local Catchment Co-ordinator, Tessa Miller.

Mini Forest Movement Native Plant Nursery drop-in session

It’s been a busy old month for the Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement. We potted up 200 native plants at our fourth monthly native plant nursery drop-in session for 2024. We had 50 totara seedlings donated by a lovely local farmer, and they are now happily potted up and growing in the nursery alongside some newly potted up Carex, Flax and Pittosporums.

Central Southland Toy Library brought a massive smile to our faces with their planting day. This was part of their celebration of 30 Years of Play, and after a birthday party they planted 200 native plants around the Toy Library. We think they are amazing and are so proud to support local community projects like theirs with native plants.

We have another 720 native plants being planted out this week by students at Winton School and Central Southland College. There a few more plantings booked in, and we will have got 2600 plants in the ground in 2024 through our Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement.
We have 1500 growing in the nursery through our 2023 nursery drop-in evenings and have already potted up 1000 more this year. You are welcome to come and join at these monthly drop in sessions - all info is on our Mid Oreti Facebook page.

Finally, many thanks must go to the Westpac and the NZ Landcare Trust for their support of our Mini Forest Movement project through the 2023 Westpac Water Care Grant, and to AB Lime for their amazing long term support of the Mid Oreti Catchment Group's Mini Forest Movement - growing native plants for schools, community groups and landowners across Central Southland.

Acton Downs wetlands afternoon a real treat

A small group gathered for a tour around Dot and Geoff Steven’s manmade wetland at Acton Downs, near Mossburn. Dot shared how her vision had become reality in an area of the farm that was just always wet despite years of trying to drain it. The work started in 2019 with a digger forming the main ponds and since then Dot has undertaken a massive planting project with the help of the crew from Fork and Spade. In 2022 another pond was added higher up and the planting in this area is just getting established.

Dot doesn’t think the work will ever be finished. As many of us know the planting is the easy bit, and it’s the maintenance and spraying that can be time consuming. We were joined by Travis Currie from the Nurseryman who shared planting advice with the group, and the afternoon concluded with a well-earned cuppa and some of Dot’s delicious home baking. Thank you, Dot and Geoff, for making the group so welcome and sharing your knowledge.

Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Gorup Field Days are go!

Sunshine, yummy lunch and a great turnout was a brilliant start to our plan to run some really useful local field days during the year.
Then we got super lucky, as MPI asked if they could trial their new native planting and establishment field day in our area. Their plan is to eventually roll these out across New Zealand. We were able to give our feedback on how to make the day better, and hopefully this helps to make a great day that landowners and Catchment Groups can benefit from across the country. 
Susan from Te Uru Rakau New Zealand Forest Service gave us a Natives 101 on getting the basics right - the why, what to think about and what to do before and after planting, and the benefits. Rob Shepard (RMS Forests) covered the realities of planting projects, what to watch out for, and how to get it right.

Travis Currie (The Nurseryman) covered plant selection, species, benefits and seed collection. Catriona and Keith (Environment Southland) covered weeds to watch out for, what you can do about them, and local opportunities to support landowners and community groups with native planting in Southland.
The weather was cold and sunny, and it was really great to walk down to Nigel and Mandy Johnston’s Farm and look at Ali Meades’ plantings too. 
Thanks everyone for making this such a great day!

Mini Forest Movement Native Plant Nursery drop-in session

First Tuesday of every month, 4pm to 6pm
AB Lime Nursery, 10 Bend Road, Winton

All welcome to our monthly native plant growing working-bee evenings at the AB Lime Nursery. Your help will go towards growing plants for the Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement Project, which provides 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 like.

Titiroa Catchment Group mapping project follow up field-day

Thursday 4 July, 12.30pm to 2.30pm
270 Middleton Road

Are you farming in the Titiroa Catchment and want to know where the best ‘bang for buck’ might be for environmental improvements? The Titiroa Catchment Group Committee, in conjunction with Land and Water Science, have been working on a mapping project to better understand the influence of the landscape on water quality within the catchment boundaries.  The Group held a workshop in late May and are holding a follow up field day on 4 July.  This will explore how the maps can be used on farm, exploring native regeneration of plant life, wetlands, and the source--> pathway --> receiving environment concept with Land and Water Science.

RSVP essential to Tessa Miller 021 400 431 or John Somerville 027 447 5437

Lower Aparima Winter Grazing Tour

Friday 5 July, 12pm to 4pm
Followed by BBQ & Refreshments

The Lower Aparima Catchment Group annual tour is going on tour! We’re mixing it up this year and heading out of the catchment. We’ll be visiting the Southern Dairy Hub, Recycle South and a grazing, finishing farm. Thanks to DairyNZ, we’ve also got the opportunity for anyone to bring along a sample or two of your fodder or bulb crop to have it tested for DM/ME. We’ve also arranged a tour of the Bale Wrap Recycling plant at Makarewa to kick us off.
Focus of the Day:

  • Feed Plan and Plan B

  • Varied bale grazing intensity

  • Kale & multispecies wintering system

  • Block grazing system and baleage as supplement

Beyond Regulation event

Monday 8 July, 10am to 1.30pm               
84 Pringle Road, Balfour
Lunch is provided

A must-go event, brought to you by Land and Water Science, Thriving Southland, FAR and supported by Southland Catchment Groups.
You'll get insights into identifying opportunities to reduce environmental footprint through linking landscape information with  farm mitigation, while maintaining your business resilience.

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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