February 2021 Newsletter

Happy New Year!

Welcome to our first Thriving Southland newsletter for 2021.

We hope you have had time for a good break during the Christmas and New Year period, and are feeling recharged, ready for a great year ahead.
Our first board meeting for the year was held on 18 January, where we were delighted to welcome our new Chairman Jeff Grant, and new independent director Bernadine Balle-Guilleux. Read on for a bit more about them.
Huge thanks to Ewen Mathieson, our outgoing Chairman, who has worked so hard to get Thriving Southland up and running. Ewen remains on our board.
The Catchment co-ordinators are back into their work, planning events and assisting Catchment Groups with project plans - with lots in the pipeline.
Speaking of pipelines (that’s our attempt at a surfing pun), Surfing for Farmers is attracting great numbers in Southland - check out the photos in the events section.
Several Catchment Groups will be holding their first meetings for the year in February and March, and we’ll be sure to keep you informed of all catchment-related happenings around the region.

We also have our annual Thriving Southland survey coming out in February, please keep an eye out for it in your email, we appreciate your insights and thoughts, and it only takes 5 minutes!

​New board chair focused on new Thriving Southland opportunities​

New Thriving Southland Chairman Jeff Grant is clear that Catchment Groups can play a leading role helping communities achieve enduring environmental solutions that also benefit farming operations.

 With 25 years’ experience in and around agricultural research, the Balfour farmer and company director says he feels well positioned to make a positive contribution to the programme.

He says he was attracted to Thriving Southland’s bottom-up model, where farmer-led and community inclusive Catchment Groups play a crucial role in enabling people to embrace change.

“I’ve always had an interest in the science and the connections between stakeholders.”

Every farmer is interested in what’s being proposed under the freshwater national environmental standards, and the potential impacts on environmental sustainability, and the ability to run a farm, Jeff says.
The changes need to be workable and relatable for everyone, he says.
“If you can provide workable solutions, farmers generally adapt really quickly.”
People need to have confidence when making changes, and be able to trust the outcomes, he says.
“There’s a lot of emphasis on the regulation for land and water but not a lot about the benefits.”
Catchment Groups are well placed to help close that crucial gap, and better identify benefits, Jeff says.
Joining Jeff on the board is Bernadine Balle-Guilleux, who is a Horticulture NZ director with a background in marketing and management.

Momentous occasion for ACE and Thriving Southland

It was a real milestone moment on 21 January, as the Aparima Community Environment Project (ACE) and Thriving Southland signed the funding agreement for a three- year community project.

The ACE group has already achieved so much, but they are just getting warmed up. Keep an eye out for events and projects they will be launching in the near future. 

ACE survey results and commentary has been  profiled recently, resulting in positive stories about the hard work behind ACE - congratulations to all involved - read more here.

Participate in social research on how people value soil

Robyn Kannemeyer, Environmental Social Researcher at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research, is working on a research project to understand how people value soil. She is looking for Southland farmers who would be interested in being involved. It would involve an interview by phone, zoom or teams (depending on your preference) for about an hour.  If you are interested, please get in touch with Robyn on or 027 353 9252 to get more information about the interview itself or arrange a time. For more information about the overall research programme, check out here

What’s available for you on our website

Don’t forget to have a quick look at our website. We’ve been adding lots of new and useful information for you.

Some key areas to look out for, include our Information Hub where we’ve compiled links to farming resources and information on a range of topics.

If you haven’t checked out our Science Report, it’s definitely worth a read. The report is a literature review of all published research and science about eth water and soil quality in Southland.

And finally, we’ve been getting some great Catchment Group profiles up – so if you want to know more about one of the Catchment Groups, please have a look.

Highlights from December and January events

Estuary to headwaters field-trip

Groups from New River Estuary to Oreti Headwaters participated in a field-trip as part of the joint conference of the NZ Hydrological Society, NZ Rivers Group and the NZ Freshwater Sciences Society in Invercargill in December.  During the trip people were taken for a meander through the beautiful Otapiri Gorge.

Three Rivers Catchment Group on show at Wyndham A&P

The Three Rivers group teamed up with the Edendale Nursery for a combined stall at the Wyndham A&P show on 5 December. It was a great opportunity to support the local A&P Society and chat to people about the group and its activities and plans. There was even a prize draw for local people who were keen to sign up to the group, with several new members jumping at the opportunity.

Magic day on the Otapiri Stream

Enviroschool, Limehills School, and the Makarewa Headwaters Catchment Group had a magic day on the Otapiri Stream with Environment Southland, using the SHMAK kit to assess stream health on 8 December. It was great to see the school and the Catchment Group working together, and a massive thanks to the Frew’s for lending us one of their beautiful streams to use. 

Clifden Rapid Habitat Assessment and BBQ

An awesome group of neighbours came together out at Clifden on 14 December to do a stream Rapid Habitat Assessment and enjoy a BBQ. The assessment results will form a baseline, so next time the Group visits the stream they can see if things are changing! Thanks to Sam, Keith and Alex from Environment Southland for helping us access the three sites.

Between the Domes Wetland Tour and BBQ

The Between the Domes Catchment Group held a great field day on 10 December. We looked at three different wetland sites and discussed nutrient capture, size relative to catchment and everything wetland related. Big thanks to Alliance for the delicious steaks and BBQ skills.

Surfing for Farmers riding a wave in the south

We were delighted to see more 50 people turn up to the 14 January event, held on a fantastic Southland summer’s day at Colac Bay. Great to see so many farmers and farm staff giving it a go, or just coming along for a yarn and a bite to eat at the BBQ afterwards. Many thanks again to The Southland Surf School, owned by former New Zealand women’s surf champion, Jess Terrill, for providing expert coaching and supervision for everyone. Thriving Southland is proud to be a co-funder of the initiative. Keep an eye on the Thriving Southland Facebook page for details of upcoming events.

Upcoming Events


Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards Field Day
Come along and hear from Geordie and Frances Eade, the 2020 BFEA Southland Supreme Winners at Granity Downs. Please join us from 1.30pm for tea and coffee with a 2pm prompt start, followed by a BBQ at the conclusion of the event around 5.30pm. Please contact Becci Lampard for more information and to RSVP. Join event on Facebook.

9.30am - 4.30pm, Otautau Sport Centre
Future Farming Expo 2021 – Brought to you by ACE Catchments 
With increased awareness of the impacts on land and water as well as shifting consumer behaviour, there is a real opportunity for the food and fibre sectors to meet these challenges. Join the ACE catchments in a discussion with industry leader experts on how the food and fibre sectors are researching, innovating and leading to reduce the farming environmental footprint.
Brought to you by Aparima Catchment Groups (Western Southland)
Aquavan visiting Southland during March
Thriving Southland is delighted to be able to assist Catchment Groups to bring the Aquavan back to Southland during March. The popular University of Otago marine studies mobile crew will be visiting schools and be available to the public in Gore and the Waihopai/Invercargill area in early March, and will also be at the Multicultural Food Festival at ILT Stadium Southland on 20 March. Check out the Thriving Southland Facebook page for exact dates/times. The focus will be on understanding of catchments, indigenous biodiversity, interconnection of waterways, ecosystem services and the ecological and cultural values of fresh water and costal marine environments.
Southland Catchment Group Forum 
The Catchment Group Forum, will be on 24 March. As always there will be great – and topical – speakers. Please keep an eye on our Facebook and website page for more details.

And finally, Thriving Southland catchment team news:

It’s been a couple of months of celebrating, with congratulations to Rachael and Poppy, two of our Catchment Group Coordinators, who both got married during the summer break - exciting times!
We’re also very proud of Sarah Thorne who was selected for an exhibition on '100 women, 100 words, infinite possibilities' for her work with Catchment Groups. As Sarah said in her exhibition quote, "you can have all the science in the world, but you need passionate people to talk and act on it. People and communities have the ability to turn science into real and lasting change. It is inspiring, and I love being part of it".
We couldn’t agree more!
Nga mihi

Jeff and Richard

Jeff Grant (Thriving Southland Chairman)
Richard Kyte (Thriving Southland Project Lead)


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