December 2021 Thriving Southland Newsletter

It’s been a hugely challenging but rewarding year and it’s fantastic to see the Catchment Group community flourishing in Southland.

As we rocket towards Christmas, it’s timely to reflect on Thriving Southland’s first year.

Last month we held our AGM and it was great to see such a good turnout - the positivity around Thriving Southland is testament to the hard work and energy of Catchment Groups in the region.
More and more Catchment Group conversations are happening with people outside of the primary industries and this is a crucial space where telling our stories is so important.
People looking in at Catchment Groups see the professionalism of farmers around the environment, how they are working together on continuous improvement for positive change, and how much they care about the legacy they leave for future generations.
Thank you to everyone who has been involved in a Catchment Group in Southland - your time and energy given has direct impact on your farm, home, business, community.
On that note, we’re delighted to be facilitating the Leadership and Strategy Workshops this month - which are great opportunities for those wanting to add to their knowledge, step up in Groups, or just to add to their personal and professional toolbox.
There’s still heaps of cool events and happenings coming up before the end of the year - and we’d like to wish you a very happy Christmas and all the best for a safe, happy and prosperous new year. Remember to look after yourselves and your neighbours and ensure you have a plan in place for Covid-19.

The Greatest Southland Catchment Groups Christmas Competition, ever!

This is the Christmas competition to top all Christmas competitions!

 Let’s see your jolly creations and show some festive cheer. Enter as a Catchment Group, business, individual or farm, and win your local Catchment Group a share of a “merry good” prize pool. Thanks to Wilderlab and Swanndri we also have some cool spot prizes to giveaway. Enter by sending us a picture of your Christmas decorated shed (cowshed, woolshed, dairy, workshop etc), an outdoor Christmas tree or display, or other rural Christmas themed ideas.
Enter your high res picture between the 1 and 15 of December by emailing to Winners announced 20 December.

Matt Chisholm wows Catchment Groups with life stories and lessons learned

PHOTO ABOVE: Matt speaking at Waikaka

It’s good to talk. Take the time to look after yourself. Live in the present. Have a happy life, and look out for those around you. These are just a few of the life lessons shared by renowned TV presenter and all-round good bloke, Matt Chisholm, who delivered laugh-loaded evenings in Waikaka and Mossburn last month, supported by the Waikaka and Between The Domes Catchment Groups.

Matt shared his incredible story. With a great job, beautiful young family and a happy demeanour, seemingly Matt had it all. But behind his happy facade he was barely coping, working himself into the ground and withdrawing from everyone but his family. After trying his first drink at age 14, Matt found himself in a long term spiral of aimlessness and drinking, despite the heavy toll it took on his body and mind. One day something snapped, Matt opened up about his struggle with depression and was blown away by the outpouring of public support. This turned out to be the catalyst that helped him face up to his unhappiness and change his life.
Matt talked candidly and with humour about his battle with booze, drugs, work, self- doubt, anxiety, and himself. There was lots of laughs, lots of great stories, and lots of honesty. A few tears too.
Special mention goes out to the fabulous food put on by the Waikaka Golf Ladies on the first night.
"Ask them if they're ok... and then ask them again," was another of Matt’s messages.

He had the Mossburn crowd in absolute stitches with his epic yarns, and also gave some really strong messages around mental health.

A massive thank-you to Matt for coming south to share his life story so far.

Catchment Group Profile

Ardlussa (Tomogalak/Ardlussa/Longridge North)

How many people in the group?
There are more than 40 people in the group.

When did the Group start? 
November 2020
Who is involved in the Group?
Sheep, beef, dairy, deer, arable, rural professionals.
What’s been happening?
September 2020: The Catchment Group kicked off with a community BBQ to share ideas.
May 2021: A core group got together and used the information and ideas gathered at the public meeting to determine their Values, Purpose and Vision. They also worked on some goals and objectives that the group could achieve.
August 2021: Farm Environment Plan workshop number 1 took place at the Balfour Rugby Club. The course was well attended, practical and supported 18 people towards having a fully-fledged farm plan.
Best way to contact for new members?
Group Co-Chairs: Hannah Blakely
Victoria Butterick

Recent Events

Orauea River Catchment Group – Understanding our Landscape

The Orauea River Catchment Group came together on 27 October to understand their landscape, the impacts of the particular geology in their area and what options they have to proceed in understanding it further so they can make considered decisions.

Thanks to Clint and Andrew from Land and Water Science for presenting. Also present to share some wisdom was Lloyd McCall from the Pomahaka Water Care Group. He gave some insights as to what the Pomahaka has been up to with their Catchment Group, including receiving some recent funding for a large planting corridor.

Mid Oreti Mini Oreti Forest Movement Project launched

The Mid Oreti Mini Oreti Forest Movement project was launched on 28 October. The Mid Oreti Catchment Group are really keen to start making positive physical improvements in their catchment and become more financially independent, so they came up with this project.

 AB Lime have kindly donated 1000 plants for the first year, along with the people power to plan and plant them, and offered the future use of their nursery space to propagate more plants for more sites.

The group wants to start with small projects of up to 250 plants, and would love a donation of at least $1 per plant, which will be waived for non-profit and community groups. All donation money would go back into propagating more plants, and /or other Mid Oreti Catchment Group projects and events.

The group will also run a series of plant propagation workshops to grow more plants and teach other people how to as well. So if you live in the Mid Oreti area and you want to plant up to 250 native plants or know a community project that could benefit, please let the Mid Oreti Catchment Group know. More information including registration sheet, info sheet, and terms and conditions, is on the Mid Oreti Catchment Group Facebook page:

Catchment Group activities and projects recognised at ES Community Awards 2021

Catchment Groups and Catchment Group projects were front and centre at the Environment Southland Community Awards 2021 on 29 October.

Mid Oreti Catchment Group and Aparima Community Environment (ACE) both received highly commended awards in their categories – Individual Environmental Action or Leadership and Environmental Action in the Community respectively, and Leon and Wendy Black won the Environmental Leadership in farming.
The New Zealand Marine Studies Centre Aquavan Programme - Discovering your catchment and coastal connections, Luke Templeton, Dave Diprose and John Cowie were some other very special nominees, along with Jesse Bythell (who works closely with many of the Southland Catchment Groups) who won the Individual Environmental Action or Leadership Award.
There were also other many individuals, groups, schools, companies, education providers and initiatives nominated that Thriving Southland and the Southland Catchment Groups work with. All the nominees were outstanding, and videos of all the nominees talking about their projects are available online at

Great turnout at Thriving Southland AGM to hear about first year progress

There was a good turnout at the Thriving Southland AGM on 10 November to hear about progress being made and about some interesting trends happening in the consumer space. As well as hearing an update on what has been accomplished in year one of the project and plans for year two, the meeting heard from two fantastic speakers - Anna Campbell and John Rodwell. Their presentations on the fascinating world of consumer-driven change led to some great discussion on how farming in Southland can respond to changes happening.

Balfour kids get down with nature at school Enviro Education Day

More than 80 children from Balfour Primary School got to experience the Thriving Southland Education Kits on 11 November. They split into their whanau groups and worked their way around four modules: Native Plants, Stream Health, Pest Control and Estuary Health. The kids had a great day and wrote all about it in their latest school newsletter. Thanks for having us Balfour School! 

Thanks to Hannah Blakely from the Ardlussa Catchment Group for organising the visit and sharing the story of their farm.

Between the Domes and AgRecovery Catchment Group Meeting

The Between The Domes Catchment Group has been beavering away for a long time on creating connections and planning a bale wrap recycling project. As fantastic timing would have it, AgRecovery got back in touch with the Group in October to discuss the possibility of running a farm Plastic Waste Pilot Programme in Southland. They hosted a meeting recently with AgRecovery to hear the concept, provide feedback and discuss how they can work together.

They also set up a second meeting with some of Southland’s key stakeholders and AgRecovery to set the scene and get another set of valuable feedback. A big thank you was extended from AgRecovery to the Between the Domes group and they are looking forward to partnering with them further.

Greater Dipton Catchment Group monitor stream health at Castledown Wetlands

Lots of fun was had at Castledown Wetlands on 23 November - as the Greater Dipton Catchment Group learnt some handy SHMAK kit stream health monitoring skills.  Many thanks to Rob, Sam and Nathan from Environment Southland who ran a great session. Next steps are to come up with a monitoring plan and some goals.

ACE Catchment Groups brings you ‘MAKE IT COUNT - Efficient Nutrient Use’

8 December, 10am-1pm
Wayne and Heather Hopcroft’s - 434 Riverton-Otautau Rd, Fonterra SN35530
Field Day event - Applicable for dry stock and dairy.
Fertiliser is one of the three highest costs on farm - come hear about how to get the most from your fertiliser spend. Discussion will include sheep and dairy case studies, the effect of timing and rate of fertilisers on pasture growth and nutrient losses, the effect of trace minerals such as Molybdenum Plus crop fertiliser requirements, and tests available to assist with creating crop fertiliser plans, future use of nutrients, relation to soil test and nutrient recommendations.

Speakers include Deane Carson - Agribusiness, Jim Risk - Ballance Agri Nutrients, Vaughan Templeton - Regional Forum.

To register your attendance please email
Light lunch provided.
Waimatuku Catchment Group - History Evening and Christmas Party
Thornbury Vintage Machinery Club
8 December, 6pm

History evening and Christmas party
The Waimatuku Catchment Group invites you to learn more about the agricultural and environmental history of the Waimatuku Catchment. We will round off the evening with a small Christmas celebration. Bring your staff, neighbours and kids. All food and drink provided. For catering purposes please RSVP to Jess on 027 697 4852.

Ngā mihi

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


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