February 2023 Thriving Southland Newsletter

Welcome to our February newsletter! 

We hope you’ve had a relaxing Christmas and New Year period, been able to recharge the batteries, and are full of inspiration for the year ahead.
Reflecting back on 2022, it was challenging year in some regards for farmers, but one of the big positives was the growth of Catchment Groups in Southland and the number of farmers across every sector getting involved.
It’s been a really good, positive year for Thriving Southland, and we’re chomping at the bit about all the fantastic opportunities for Catchment Groups in 2023.
We are thrilled to share that we’ve secured funding from the Ministry of Primary Industries for another two years. This funding, from June 2023, allows us to keep the Thriving Southland team out and about supporting our Catchment Groups, administrative functions and Board. We’re in the process of securing funding and new project ideas for Catchment Groups, which will enable and support Southland’s Catchment Groups to continue to innovate, inspire, research and engage with their communities. 
Last year ended on a high with our well received ‘Everything to Gain’ event, that saw more than 150 people come together to listen to crucial messages around science, sustainability and trade.
Linking the sustainability messages to the trade requirements is a crucial connection that helps us all understand why we are working so hard to achieve positive on-farm improvements.
The international perceptions around New Zealand farming are largely very positive, but we can’t rest on our laurels, working towards meeting evolving requirements from other governments through Trade agreements to reduce Tariffs, as well as the major - international trade players, such as Tesco’s, who we heard from during the event. We are well thought of and well positioned to lead in the years ahead. More on the event below.
Finally, congratulations to everyone who got involved in the Southland Catchment Group Christmas Competition - check out the links to the pics, prizes, sponsors and prize-winners below.

Celebrating two years of Southland Catchment Group support through Thriving Southland

If you watch one video this month – this is it!  Watch here.  
With more than 80 projects and almost $2M in funding accessed by Southland Catchment Groups during our first two years, we are here to empower Southlanders, to get projects off the ground and inspire community action.

‘Everything to Gain’ event shines a light on the future of farming in
New Zealand

About 150 people attended the ‘Everything to Gain - maintaining our international market position’ event at the Invercargill Workingmen’s’ Club on 15 December to hear from industry leaders about national and international opportunities. The event was hosted by Thriving Southland and supported by AgResearch.
Thriving Southland CEO, Richard Kyte said: “it’s fantastic to see so many farmers and rural professionals come along to this event in one of the busiest weeks of the year. There was great discussion at the tables, plenty of challenging insights and we’ve received extremely positive feedback.”
Read more here and check out the event video here.

Southland Catchment Group Christmas Competition lights up the region

1st Place Sponsored by Land and Water Science & Campbell Water Design went to Glenkylie Dairy Farm with their tractor-powered Santa entry.
They have won their choice of either:

  • 200 hectares of high-resolution drone mapping plus terrain and hydrological analysis and map outputs; or

  • 100 hectares of high-resolution radiometric surveying plus digital soil analysis and map outputs.

(Both options are valued at $5,000 excl GST.)
The competition was fantastic this year and we want to take this time to thank everyone who got involved with the Christmas displays. It brought lots of festive cheer to Southland and we have had some great feedback and comments about all of the displays!
There were a record number of entries and some fantastic creations across the region.
Also a huge thank you to businesses who donated brilliant prizes. All this wouldn't be possible if we didn’t have these great Southland businesses supporting us and the Catchment Groups - thank you.

McIntyre Dick, Morven Road NZ, Southland Farm Machinery, CLAAS Harvest Centre Southland, Hopefield Hemp, DairyNZ, Silver Fern Farms, Winton Motorcycles, Ewan Allan Honda Gore, Wilderlab NZ Ltd, Farmlands Co-operative, PGG Wrightson Ltd, Land and Water Science, Campbell Water Design, Diacks Nurseries, Nichol's Garden Centres, VetSouth & Ballance Agri-Nutrients.

2nd place went to ‘Gnome for Xmas’
Winning $1k for environmental enhancement on farm thanks to Dairy NZ.

3rd place went to the Brok Family
Thanks to Winton Motorcyles have won a $500 voucher to spend in store.

Check out the great entries and other prize-winners here.

Between the Domes (BTD) booklet release and wetland development project celebrated

The BTD Catchment Group have completed an exciting project involving three workstreams. The culmination of two of these is to be the publication of a Catchment Booklet, which will provide an overview of the catchment and provide the basis for future projects. 
Early in 2022, the Group carried out a survey of landowners with holdings greater than 20ha to establish some baseline information regarding the property, land use, waterbodies, wetlands, riparian vegetation, flora and fauna and nutrient management.
The data collated from this survey has helped to measure the catchment land use and environmental features. From this work changes can be referenced over time as more riparian plantings, wetlands and other environmental mitigations are introduced. The survey also asked about interest in various topics for projects and field days and the Group have been able to use this information for event planning for the year ahead. 
The data has been collated into a fantastic booklet which is a great resource for all members and wider community. The booklet is available in a digital and hard copies are available through the Group, at the Thriving Southland office.
The third strand of this project is still underway, as the Group work with NIWA to assess the place of wetlands in reducing sediment and nutrient loss to local streams and the Oreti River.
Seven potential wetland sites were visited by NIWA scientists in Autumn 2022, and from this a couple of wetland designs have been created, which will then be developed by the landowners. It is hoped that these targeted designs can be extrapolated to other areas in the catchment provide a resource for the Group and wider use. 
To celebrate the culmination of this project the group recently held a field day at the Drummond’s property (one of the farms where a wetland is being developed), to launch the booklet and view the wetland site and plans. 
Congratulations to the Group for completing such an awesome project. Copies of the Booklet are available through the group, at the Thriving office or it can be viewed here.

Carbon Neutral Dipton – doing things a bit differently

Dipton might be small, but they are mighty - and they have a vision. They are on a journey to become Carbon Neutral Dipton. 
The Dipton Catchment Group are working with five farmers, each with some buddies (neighbours and community members who share and learn at the farm sessions). These farmers and their buddies will be brainstorming exciting ways to reduce GHG emissions on their farms. They are from all types of farming backgrounds so there is something for everyone.
They will come up with what they want to tackle and how they want to do that. Consultants will be on hand to measure and evaluate what happens with the mitigations over the next six months. They might focus on carbon farming and tree planting, or it could be reducing GHG and sequestering carbon… they’re right at the start of the journey.

 And they’re doing the hard yards to make your life easy. All you need to do is follow their journey through Facebook, their events, newsletters, workshops, or by joining their buddy groups.
Join them on their adventure to see if small changes on-farm can make big differences to emissions.

Follow on Facebook or at

Catchment Group opportunity with eDNA projects

Wai Tuwhera o te Taiao has partnered with NZ Landcare Trust and Wilderlab to offer Catchment Groups across New Zealand the chance to undertake eDNA projects.
All you need to do is register your interest, submit a proposal and find out if you’re successful. If you are one of the 12 successful Catchment Groups, you will receive up to 24 sampling kits to take six replicate eDNA samples at a single site. This will obtain baselines of biodiversity, monitor a site over time, determine distributions of mahinga kai species and pest species and compare sites.

You will will also be offered specialist advice from Wilderlab, with support from the Wai Tuwhera o te Taiao team, to help with project design and planning.

The proposal deadline is 28 February, successful projects will be notified mid March and projects start in April.
If you have any pātai/questions about this opportunity, please email and you can read more at Register your interest in undertaking a catchment group eDNA project | EPA and Community groups | EPA (examples of projects funded in our previous round of project funding).

Lower Waiau Catchment Group

Community BBQ and swim at the Clifden Bridge.

How/when Group started?
The Group formed in December 2020 and kicked off with a Rapid Habitat Assessment field day and BBQ.
What’s been happening?
In May 2021, the Group took up the offer of some environmental-DNA tests, taking water samples from the Lilburn and Merton Streams. The highlights discovered were Kanakana (lamprey) and Gollum Galaxids among many other interesting species. In July 2021, the Group met at the Town and Country Club to hear from members of Dipton and Pourakino Catchment Groups to learn how they got started, what they have learnt and what they are up to.

At the end of the month the group came together for their first real Committee meeting. A couple of months later, the Group held a Know Our Numbers evening, followed by a Committee meeting to discuss project ideas.

In 2022, the group started the year with a Community BBQ and swim at the Clifden Bridge and progressed their project planning and action.
How best to get in touch?
Thriving Southland Group coordinator, Clare Officer on 027 371 9791 or

Makarewa Headwaters Catchment Group Christmas Social heads indoors

The Lora and Otapiri Gorge crews didn’t let rain dampen their Christmas spirits. They just moved their event indoors and had a great Christmas Social. Huge thanks to Margie, Paul, Mark and Elspeth for pulling together an amazing event in very wet conditions. The stream investigation at the community restoration site (with the new DairyNZ water quality monitoring kits) will be run next year when the stream isn’t so fast and high.

Have a great February,

Ngā mihi

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


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