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Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group

Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group covers 60,000ha of their 111,940 ha wider catchment, from just south of Mataura in the north down to Rakahouka on State Highway 98 in the south.  Its southern boundary (between Rakahouka and Edendale), runs north of State Highway 98 almost across to State Highway 1, where the eastern boundary cuts up between Edendale and Mataura. To the west, the area extends across to Ryal Bush and down to Wallacetown where the Oreti River forms the western boundary. 

The main surface waters found in this area are the Oreti River, the Makarewa River, and the Dunsdale, Hedgehope and Waikiwi Streams.


Sally Hammond


Mitch Johnson



Group coordinator

Sarah Thorne

Number of members in the CG

The group has 16 core members that form a Steering Group, and a wider group of 30 to 40 active members that attend events and are kept up to date with what the group is doing.  All have a passion for strong thriving communities. 

Date the Catchment Group started

  • 2014 – The Hedgehope Dunsdale Catchment Group was started in 2014 when a couple of farmers had a "farmer meeting" as they passed each other on a gravel road in vehicles.  They were the fourth Catchment Group to start in Southland. 
  • March 2020 – The Hedgehope Dunsdale Catchment Group expanded into the Ryal Bush and Makarewa areas and became the Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group. 

Types of people in the group

The group is made up of dairy, sheep & beef, deer and crop farmers, Rural Professionals, Contractors, local school representatives and community members.  It is all about working together to connect, inspire and support our community to be well informed, and make great decisions that look after and benefit our land, water and people.  All are welcome to come and join us.

Projects completed

We run events to bring people together to share knowledge and skills, access expert advice and information, and work on   projects that are useful to our catchment and community.  All our events and projects involve community and/or individual wellbeing aspect too.

We meet regularly throughout the year when we need to, avoiding having meetings in the busy farm seasons.  We have a Facebook page to advertise our events and share information on our projects and their results.

In March the Catchment Group worked with Hedgehope School, Hokonui Runanga to have a community hangi.  Friends and family came together at the school, where Rodney and Terry from the Runanga had laid the hangi, and then shared their knowledge of the history of Hokonui Runanga, and how to grow and plant native plants.  The Runanga donated some native plants to the school which the kids and families had fun planting whilst the hangi was cooking.  Meat and veg was kindly donated by the Alliance Group Limited, So Sweet and local Catchment Group members.

On the 1st August, the group hosted a community Pot Luck Lunch at Mabel Bush hall to bring friends and family for a pre-lambing and calving community catch up.  It was a great chance to get together before things got super busy on farm, and included very quick updates from Tim Campbell and Suzanne Hanning on our two big projects.

The group also took part in a nationwide eDNA (environmental DNA) water quality monitoring programme (along with the other Southland Catchment Groups), to provide valuable information on the plants and animals found in and around New Zealand’s waterways.  Their sample was taken from the confluence of the Hedgehope and Makarewa Rivers.  They also strongly support Southland wide Catchment Group initiatives like the Thriving Southland Ladies Enviro series. 

Projects underway

1. Winter Crop Cultivation Pilot Study.  Working with the Southern Dairy Hub, the group have extended this pilot study onto 10 commercial farms across Southland, to determine if there are any alternative crop establishment to conventional cultivation methods, or combination of methods, that will help improve wintering practices in Southland and meet the new regulations that are being passed.  A range of methods including direct drilling, strip tillage, air seeding, and precision drilling have been looked at for fodder beet, swedes and kale. 

Our farmers and agronomist Natalie Stocker (supported by a wide range of volunteers and local businesses) monitored the farms over a 12 week period to gather the physical measurements for the trial, and the findings are now being collated.  The monitoring looked at many aspects such as 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. 

It is hoped that this pilot study will be expanded over the coming years to get a fully controlled trial. This year’s work has gathered a huge amount of data, which is now being looked at. 

2. Understanding Our Catchment.  We are working with Clint Rissmann and Land and Water Science Group to understand our catchment, and develop an online picture (model) of it to help us make good decisions to look after it. 

Phase 1 of this project has just been completed. The full catchment of 111,940 ha has been mapped (which covers the Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group and Makarewa Headwaters Catchment Group areas), looking at topography, soil types, water movement and possible sediment and soil losses.  They are now on to phase 2, and are looking into specific areas, and mapping them to determine how water moves from the top of the catchment to the bottom.  

This is a very exciting and 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.  Managing data privacy is an important aspect of this project, and the information being gathered can only be accessed and seen by the landowner.

3. Exploring local communication and engagement ideas

4. Supporting DairyNZ by trialling eight of their new on farm water quality kits 

Projects planned

  1. Sharing knowledge and learnings from the Winter Crop Cultivation Pilot Study and Understanding Our Catchment Project
  2. Spreading Good Management Practice through local field days
  3. Going to other Catchment Groups events to learn from them
  4. Looking at how we can help our community to develop and use their Farm and Property Environmental Management Plans, to meet the latest standards and legal requirements
  5. Always including farmer and community wellbeing in out events and projects

Hosted events / meetings

  1. Community hangi with Hedgehope School, Hokonui Runanga and the Catchment Group – 19 March 2021
  2. Spoke at the Southern Dairy Hub’s July Field Day on the winter crop cultivation trial – 7 July 2021
  3. Spoke at the Makarewa Catchment Group Meeting on the Understanding Our Catchment Project – 13 July 2021
  4. Pre-lambing and calving community catch up & pot luck lunch – 1 August 2021

Representatives from Steering Group members also regularly attend twice yearly Southland Catchment Group Forum meetings, training opportunities, such as communication (May 2021) and running effective and fun meetings (June 2021), and the annual Oreti Catchment Group Leaders Get Together.  They are also very supportive of attending wider Southland Catchment Group events and initiatives. 

Find us on Facebook

Find us on our Facebook Page - Hedgehope Makarewa Catchment Group

One of our members set up the awesome #paintabetter picture Facebook page which is fantastic to follow - Paint a Better Picture

A bit about our original Catchment Group & all that they achieved

The original Hedgehope Dunsdale Catchment Group was all about: sharing & informing; educating & raising awareness; supporting and creating solutions, and accessing information & experts.  They wanted to understand and learn about the water quality in the Dunsdale and Hedgehope Rivers, and ensure their community was fully informed of any regulations from the Council and Government, and its implications on their area and community.  They also wanted to understand Iwi values in their area, especially with regard to water quality.


  • Advocated for our community and brought farm sectors and community together
  • Formed a strong relationship with staff and Council members at Environment Southland, so could be a positive part and have a say in the regulatory changes that were coming 
  • Worked with Environment Southland to get a permanent water quality monitoring station at the confluence of the Hedgehope and Makarewa Rivers
  • Worked alongside other Catchment Groups to understand implications of issues such as forestry and share knowledge  
  • Speakers on current issues, such as Clint Rissmann (physiographics), Deane Carson (water testing and E. Coli)
  • Various workshops on the Land & Water 2020, Farm Environment Plans, on water sampling, Rapid Habitat Assessment, critical source areas (identifying environment risks), and how to submit to Government on policies and regulations
  • Raised the profile of Catchment Groups, and supported newly emerging Catchment Groups 
  • Created mutual respect and understanding between Catchment Groups and local, regional and national regulatory bodies
  • Increased personal knowledge, understanding and skills to represent our community and farming sectors

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