December 2022 Thriving Southland Newsletter

Welcome to our December newsletter!

Can you believe that we’re already at December, Christmas is around the corner and 2023 is a mere few weeks away.
As the year comes to an end, we’ve been reflecting on the incredible journey the Southland Catchment Group community is on.
With 37 Groups across the region, the network now covers more than 90% of Southland. Some Groups have had revivals, new Groups have started in areas that have never had a Group before, and some have splintered off larger Groups to address challenges on a more localised scale.
Catchment groups are getting some great recognition for the work they are doing, both locally and nationally - and justifiably so.
As we move towards the end of the initial three-year Thriving Southland project timeframe, we’re optimistic that the momentum gathered will continue. There’s plenty of projects coming to fruition, and more still coming through the pipeline as Catchment Groups get clarity around priorities in their respective areas.
Innovative solutions to complex challenges are being developed, and this comes about through people buying into an idea and putting their heads together. It’s powerful stuff. 
During November, Thriving Southland catchment coordinator Sandra Campbell was a panel member speaking at O Tātou Ngahere Conference: Regenerating our landscape with native forest in Wellington. It was awesome to be able to share more about the great work farmers are doing in the biodiversity space with a wider audience.
Thank you to everyone who came along to our AGM. You can read our annual report, that showcases the work of Thriving Southland, online on our website. You can also check out our new Thriving Southland video that really gives you a feel from the team about the amazing things that have been achieved.
We have some exciting events coming up in December. One of these is the Everything to Gain – maintaining our international market position event on 15 December. We’re expecting a large number of people to come along and hear from a pretty incredible line up of speakers about how we’re positioned so well to take advantage of the international markets. Read more below.
It’s a busy time for field-days and events, plus end of year get togethers coming up, so all that’s left to say is have an amazing and relaxing Christmas and New Year period, and hopefully some time away from the coalface. All the best for 2023!

Thriving Southland is a living example of a ground-up success story

Richard Kyte, the Thriving Southland’s project lead, recently penned this opinion piece for Farmer’s Weekly to showcase how well the Southland Catchment Group model has worked:

“When everyone is trying to push through their ideas, including regulations, too much pressure on farmers – or anyone for that matter – actually puts the brakes on. You have to slow down to speed up, and then you have to give people space and time to sit round a table to identify problems, opportunities and then solutions”.

You can read Richard’s full opinion piece here.

Between The Domes Catchment Group wins Environment Award

Fabulous night at the Environment Southland Awards on 10 November celebrating Southland’s environmental champions. Congratulations to the Between the Domes Catchment Group for winning the Environmental Action in Water Quality Award - fantastic recognition of the hard work done by this Group over the past four years.

Check out our video

We’re extremely proud of what both the Thriving Southland, and Catchment Groups have achieved in the last two years. We wanted to showcase this, so created a short video. We highly recommend having a watch.

Everything to Gain – maintaining our international market position

This free event on 15 December has an incredible line up of speakers to help share their knowledge and insights into how NZ farmers fit in the world stage and to get clarity on what global customers require. 
The event hosted by Thriving Southland, is supported by AgResearch and features:

  • Tesco's Sustainability Agricultural Manager Alice Ritchie will help you gain a better understanding of what global customers actually want, with invaluable insights into food buying expectations and desires.
  • Sinead Leahy NZAgrc is sharing insights on global research, challenges and targets to help show where New Zealand is at from mitigation and adaption perspective. This will help identify some of the big challenges and the big opportunities.
  • Simon Tucker, Director of Global Sustainability, Stakeholder Affairs and Trade, Fonterra will share the feedback Fonterra gets from international customers like Nestlé and Danone and will offer some clarity on what the global markets require and how that affects our practice.
  • Climate Change Commission Chairperson Rod Carr will focus on the opportunity to create a line of sight of resilience for farmers moving forward.  
  • Deputy Secretary Trade and Economic Vangelis Vitalis will look at the expectations required from New Zealand agriculture and what the unique challenges and opportunities for the farming community are.  

There will be panel Q&As and plenty of opportunity to ask questions. The insights you will get will be inspiring and we hope, life changing.

This upbeat event will be held on Thursday 15 December at North Lounge, Corinthian Centre at the Invercargill Workingmen’s Club. 154 Esk Street. Attendees are welcome from 9.30am (for a prompt 10am start) to 2.45pm. It's FREE to attend, and we'll provide food and refreshments too. Register here.

The Good S#!t List is back!

We want to know all the good s#!t that happens on your farm.  Often, no-one else gets to see all the good things happening and farmers don’t get credit where credit is due. 
Help us paint a picture of all the good stuff happening on farms around Southland. 
We circulate the ‘good s#!t list’ once a year to show how things on farm are changing and improving, so look out for the Good S#!t questionnaire at your next Catchment Group meeting or event. It's quick to complete and we really appreciate your help to showcase the good stuff!

The Christmas competition – amazing festive farm decorations and displays!

Calling all Catchment Groups across Southland! Let’s spread some Christmas cheer. 
Following the success of last year’s Christmas competition, we’re excited to announce we’ll be holding it again this year. Check out our website for more details.

To enter your amazing festive farm decoration, whether you’re entering personally or through your Catchment Group, then let your Catchment Group Coordinator know – their details can be found here. And remember, if your masterpiece is roadside then the map showing locations is hugely popular.
Register soon so we can share a map mid-December so people can tour the region seeing your road-side creations.
Let's get our Christmas spirit on and create some amazing farm size displays. Spot prizes up for grabs!
Check out the winners from last year here.


Balfour Catchment Group

When was the Group formed?
A keen group of seven met up in September 2020 to discuss getting the Group up and running. In mid-2021 we got together more formally and in August 2021 we held a scoping meeting to turn the ideas into a draft plan of action. 
Who’s in the Group?
The Balfour Catchment Group is made up of a whole cross sector of farmers: sheep, beef, dairy, deer, arable and horticulture. We also welcome and encourage anyone else in the Balfour area who is interested to come along and be a part of the Group.

What’s been happening?

  • October 2021 - saw the Group progress with their plans and invite the Land and Water Science team back for round two of landscape discussions and also some “what next” project planning.
  • November 2021 - Enviroday at Balfour School.
  • December 2021 - an out-of-the-blue opportunity popped up for some Balfour Catchment members to assess some sites and be a part of a wetland water storage project in conjunction with Aqua Intel Aotearoa and Iwi. The fantastic opportunity has progressed, and there are now two sites selected for site analysis and design, one of which will actually be developed into a functioning wetland with water storage capabilities.
  • March 2022 - the Group finalised their project proposal, consulted with members and submitted it to the Thriving Southland funding panel.
  • October 2022 - the Targeted Solutions to Balfour’s Environmental Challenges project is starting to pick up pace. 

Hosted events/meetings
A group of 16 met up in July 2022 to discuss the possibilities around forming a Wendon Catchment Group and to brainstorm ideas for future projects. Interest has increased since the first meeting and members are encouraging anyone else in the area to get in touch.
How to get in touch:
Contact Thriving Southland Group coordinator Tania 021 399 343 or

Lower Oreti Catchment Group growing local knowledge

Great evening with Lower Oreti Catchment Group and Clint Rissmann learning about their catchment and possible mitigations they can use on farm and across their catchment. Next up is a wetland visit in December followed by some bowling!

Lower Aparima Catchment Group schools-up on Intensive Winter Grazing 2023 rules

It was a great turnout with lots of new faces for the ‘Do you know the rules for winter 2023’ event hosted by the Lower Aparima Catchment Group at the end of October. Thanks to the Environment Southland consents team who came and presented to the group about the rules currently in play and those in the pipeline for and relating to intensive winter grazing in Southland and answering lots of questions. Thanks also to the Thornbury School PTA for supper - AMAZING!

Parting message - if in doubt, use your one hour "no extra cost" time with one of the ES consents team to ask all your questions.

Mid Oreti Catchment Group hosts Grow your own Natives Part 3

November saw the third instalment of the Mid Oreti Grow Your Own Natives series teaching Southlanders how to grow their own native plants. This time it was about re-potting the native seedlings that people had collected in February and March, into bigger pots.
Hundreds of baby plants were potted up for the Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement Project, and these will hopefully go to community groups and locals across the Mid Oreti Catchment in the coming years. It was a lovely evening, with great helpers and a big thank you goes to AB Lime for all their support and wonderful nursery facilities.
If you have any old pots or planting bags that you don’t need, the Mid Oreti team would love them. They can be dropped off at the Thriving Southland office at 231 Dee Street during office hours.

Otama Catchment Group up and running with B+LNZ GHG Workshop

The newly formed Otama Catchment Group had an excellent turnout for their B+LNZ GHG 'Know your Number' workshop in early November. It was a brilliant evening, talking through the B+LNZ online emissions calculator and action plan. There were some really great questions asked by the Group, and it was wonderful to meet farmers from neighbouring catchments.  What a great start for Otama Catchment Group!

Southland Catchment Group Forum an inspirational evening

A super evening was had in early November, when over 20 Catchment Groups came together to talk, listen, eat, learn and have lots of fun.
Riki Parata spoke about the huge amount of work that Hokonui Runanga Inc do, and DairyNZ  gave each Group four citizen science water quality monitoring kits.
Katie Moffat from BNZ announced their new Catchment Group funding. Groups can apply for up to $400 in funding to use for wellbeing, social events or small capital items to increase awareness of the Group or improve environmental outcomes in the community. Huge thanks to all the speakers and organisations involved, and to Hokonui Runanga for the awesome venue.

Wendonside Catchment Group Planting and Waterways Field Day popular

A quality field day was held by Wendonside Catchment Group in early November. The day started with a visit to Sandro and Jeannie Dyer's impressive on-farm native nursery. It's wonderful to have such dedicated growers of natives scattered through our local communities.

We then moved to Rob and Rachael Dingle's property for a chat about waterway health and habitat, before heading to the hall for an update from Environment Southland's Karl Erikson on winter grazing. We finished the afternoon with a BBQ and talk from our very own Sandra Campbell. Sandra spoke about her experience with on-farm growing, planting and long-term management of natives. What a wonderful way to end a week!

Great turnout for Thriving Southland AGM in Gore

It was a beautiful Southland Day for our AGM in Gore on 10 November. Thanks to everyone who came along to hear about what Thriving Southland has achieved during the past year, and what's planned for the future. Many thanks to our excellent guest speaker Nick Pyke from AGMARDT and fantastic panel members Blake Holgate from Rabobank and Bernardine Balle-Guilleux, Horticulture NZ Director and Thriving Southland Board Member. Amazing knowledge and great discussion on the future opportunities for NZ Ag.

Between the Domes BBQ and Booklet Launch
1 December, from 11am
Drummond Family property at 1915 Mossburn, Five Rivers Highway

Come for the day or just part of it.
11am Morning tea and Booklet launch
12pm Visit Drummond's wetland project site
1pm BBQ (kindly sponsored by Alliance)
Between the Domes Catchment Group - did you contribute to our recent catchment survey?

Come and celebrate the conclusion of this great Catchment Group project 'Describing, understanding and improving the catchment with wetland development'.

We will launch the catchment booklet and visit one of the wetland sites involved in the project and discuss all things wetland. We’ll chat about tips for successful wetland projects.

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Jim Andrew 027 231 6363

Everything to Gain – maintaining our international market position
15 December from 9.30am to 2.45pm
North Lounge, Corinthian Centre at the Invercargill Working Man’s Club, 154 Esk St.

Free event, but book your ticket quick to guarantee a place!

For more information and to RSVP visit

There are likely to be several 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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