May 2021 Newsletter

Hello and welcome to our May newsletter!

As we head towards colder winter months and the spotlight goes on winter grazing practices again. It’s really encouraging to see so many farmers already in a good place to manage whatever it delivers.

One of the great benefits of joining a Catchment Group is being able to sit down with people from your local area in a non-judgmental and non-threatening environment to throw around ideas and suggestions for on-farm improvements. Make sure you check out Richard’s Muster interview about wintering.
Thriving Southland is supporting some inspiring Catchment Group activities and it’s been wonderful to see these Catchment Groups taking the lead in their back yards.
Lots of people are getting their waders on and getting to know their creeks, streams and rivers. MCI testing ( looking to see what is in their waterways and what is missing) which is exciting as well as thought-provoking.
We hope you enjoy reading about all the great stuff that’s been happening during April.

Catchment Group Profile

Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group

When was the Group started?
The group was started about 7 years ago when a couple of farmers had a "farmer meeting" as they passed each other on a gravel road in vehicles. 

Roughly how many members do you have?
Membership fluctuates but there is a core steering group of a dozen or so members and a wider group of about 30-40 regulars.

How often do you meet, and where?
We are probably the most relaxed Catchment Group in Southland with meetings on an as-needed, when-needed basis. If there is nothing to discuss, then no meetings are held. At the moment we have a few projects on the go, so we are meeting more regularly.

What projects/events is the Group working on?
We've just had a Community Hangi at the Hedgehope school a couple weeks ago and discussed the local history of the Hokonui Runanga and the growing and planting of native trees with local iwi.
We are currently working on a project with Clint Rissmann to create interactive mapping to help assess properties in terms of risky or beneficial areas and use this to manage the land better within our catchment. This is a very exciting, cutting edge project that will give some pretty powerful information into the hands of our farmers so they can make more accurate decisions about their farming practises.
The second project we are working on is in cooperation with the Southern Dairy Hub. We are doing a pilot study of different cultivation methods in the establishment of winter crops to determine if there are any methods or combination of methods that will help improve wintering practices in Southland and meet the new regulations that are being passed. We nine volunteer farmers who have kindly put in crops for us. Some of the things we will be looking at are animal welfare - lying times, pugging depth, animal behaviour, environmental effects - visual observations of run-off, effect on soil structure, crop utilisation, dry matter yields, soil moisture infiltration and lastly the financial aspects in terms of cost analysis. 

What's the best way for people to contact you?We can be contacted either through our Facebook page  or through our page on the Thriving Southland website

Richard Kyte talks to The Muster about wintering

In his chat with Andy Thompson on The Muster radio, Richard Kyte, Thriving Southland Project Lead, was clear that Southland farmers are making progress on implementing good winter grazing practices. 

He added that in the past 12-18 months he had noticed a lot of critical source areas not being cultivated, and farmers putting a lot of thought into other wintering areas, such as the way they put baleage out. 

Richard encouraged more farmers to join their local Catchment Groups to “pick the brains of peers” and access information and advice from sector experts. 

“That’s a great way of working through issues and dealing with them.” Winter grazing plans don’t need to be 10 pages long - farmers just need to have a basic plan down on paper, and think through options, he said. 

To listen to the full interview, click here.

And we’re really pleased to tell you that, working with our catchment group farmers, the Thriving Southland team has created a comprehensive wintering guide. DairyNZ has assisted in the design to produce a document that can be used with the on farm staff by all those grazing stock this winter. Coming to you soon this will cover off the requirements around animal welfare and environment for this winter and link in with Farm Environment plans as they developed.

Rachael Halder talks to Angus in the first Thriving Southland podcast

Check out Rachael Halder having a chat with Angus Kebbell here.

And if you like it, please tell your mates. Next month, you’ll hear from Richard Kyte, discussing the role of Catchment Groups, and resources Thriving Southland has collated for farmers to use.

Emily making her mark on Gorge Road family farm

In case you missed it - here’s the inspirational story about how Emily Hamill is making her mark as a fifth-generation member on her family farm near Gorge Road, in Southland.

Read the full story here.

What's been happening

Aquavan inspiration on show at Woodlands Full Primary School

Inspired by the wonderful Aquavan University of Otago Marine Studies Centre, the Waihopai River Catchment Group and Sarah Thorne (their Thriving Southland Coordinator) had a marvellous time with Kakapo and Whio classrooms at Woodlands Full Primary School making the Waihopai catchment model, complete with duck ponds!

A huge thank you to the awesome students and teachers - who asked great questions and created a brilliant model from mountains to sea.

What lives in our streams - Waikawa, Tokanui & Haldane/Waipapa Catchment Group

We had a great day had with the South Coast catchment groups on April 9 talking stream health with Craig Simpson from the Pomahaka River Care Group. The weather couldn't have had better for a stream walk and a swim. We were also celebrating the beginning of a new Catchment Group from Fortrose to Tokonui.

Waikaka Catchment Discussion Group

There was a fantastic turn out at Jess and Don Moore's farm for a Waikaka Catchment Discussion Group on 12 April. We discussed riparian planting, wetlands and sediment traps.

Thanks Environment Southland, QEII and Pukerau Nursery for sharing your knowledge, Farm Source for supplying the BBQ, and Keeley Sullivan for running a smooth event and getting us back to the shed before the rain!

ACE Stream Walk attracts new faces

Southland put on a stunning autumn day keeping it warm and sunny for the ACE Stream walk today.  Great to see new faces and find lots of life in the streams.

Thanks to the Littles to hosting, David from Environment Southland, Justin from DairyNZ and Rachael from Thriving Southland for running the day.

Communications workshops well attended in Gore and Winton

Representatives from 12 different Southland Catchment Groups got the chance to sharpen up their communications skills with workshops in mid-April. Held over two days in Gore and Winton with Thriving Southland’s very own Comms Manager, Lee Cowan, the workshops provided a great opportunity for groups to develop a communication plan, and learn how to increase engagement in their Catchment Group.

The Aquavan visits St Peter’s College

About 100 St Peter’s College students had a blast with lots of hands-on fun when the Aquavan Education Programme swung by on 14 April. Students lapped up the science showing catchment and coastal connections. Many thanks to the Aquavan crew Aaron and Adelle, and the Gore/Waimumu and Waihopai Catchment Group for securing funding through Thriving Southland for this amazing education programme. The Aquavan will be returning to the Central Southland area from 21-24 June, so make sure it’s in your diary.

Blue skies for ACE Stream walk at Pourakino

Blue skies and lots of sunshine for the Pourakino Catchment Conservation Trust ACE Stream walk on April 20. Fantastic turnout and great conversations were had by everyone.

Thanks to the team at Environment Southland for running the day, Rabobank for lunch and the Thriving Southland team who pulled the day together.


Join Greater Dipton Catchment Group for a Field Day at Frazer's dairy farm and Brian's deer block to have a look round and consider what to include in a Farm Environmental Plan. Environment Southland and DairyNZ staff will be present to help discussions around identifying and solving issues. The Field Day will end with a free BBQ lunch at Brian's woolshed.
Wednesday 5 May
10.30am - 2.30pm
Various farms around Dipton
More information to come.
Join the Mid Oreti Catchment Group for an informative evening, as they use an eDNA water testing kit to take a water sample from the Winton Stream. The eDNA testing will pick up DNA found in the waterway from organisms that live in the water and or DNA that has ended up in the water. A demonstration will be given on how to take water samples correctly for different types of analysis, should people wish to take sample in the future on their own properties. 
This event will be followed by a Mid Oreti Catchment Group Meeting from 6pm - 7pm with a powerpoint on the eDNA Water Testing National Programme. Meet at the Red Shed
Tuesday 4 May
4pm -5pm, followed by Mid Oreti Catchment Group meeting 6-7pm (Red Shed)
Meet at the Winton Walkway Welsh Road Carpark

With increased awareness of our impact on land and water as well as shifting consumer behaviour, there is a real opportunity for the food & fibre sectors to meet these challenges. Join the ACE Catchments in a discussion with industry leader experts on how the food & fibre sectors are researching, innovating and leading to reduce the farming environmental footprint. With speakers from Agresearch, Otago University, Lincoln University, DairyNZ, Beef & Lamb and Fonterra, it will be a hands on day of what future farming system may look like. 

Brought to you by Aparima Catchment Groups (Western Southland)

Friday 11 June
Midday - 5pm
Book your spot here
Please join us for an evening of connection, inspiration and empowerment. An outstanding line-up of speakers including Kristy McGregor, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Shepherdess Magazine, Kaapua Smith, Head of Sustainability at Contact Energy and Dan Steele of Blue Duck Station Whanganui will share their stories accompanied by our MC for the evening, Sarah Perriam of Perriam Media.
Monday 17 May 2021
Doors open 6.30pm, starting 7.00pm.
Invercargill Workingmen’s Club. Free admission

RSVP essential to by 12 May 2021

Finally, our own Sarah Thorne features in the 100 women, 100 words … infinite possibilities show from Otago Museum, now being exhibited at He Waka Tuia Art + Museum in Invercargill.

Make sure to pop in for a look if you're in town. Inspiring stuff!

Nga mihi

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


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