Lower Oreti Catchment Group

Group coordinator

Sarah Thorne
027 588 5200

Days of work: Monday - Thursday (lunchtime)

Who we are 

The Lower Oreti Catchment Group has been formed with the goal to help farmers and our local community: 

  • Better understand the challenges we face around balancing farm production with sustainable land use, and improvement of water quality and biodiversity 
  • Identify opportunities and drive farmer-led, grassroots action in our local area 
  • Respond to changing environmental policies and shifting consumer behaviours. 

Numbers of members in the CG 

Six keen locals have been attending events run by New Zealand Landcare Trust, Thriving Southland and other Southland Catchment Groups since 2019, and decided in March 2021 to start their group with a Wintering Field Day in June attended by 50 people.

Date the Catchment Group started

Official start date was the 29th June 2021 with the first Lower Oreti Catchment Group event.

Types of people in the group 

The dream is to have a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and land uses, with a passion for improving the environment and the health of the waterways found in the Lower Oreti area. 

Everyone is welcome. 

Projects completed

Our first event was a Wintering Field Day in June, where over 50 people visited two farms with different wintering systems.  The first farm had a focus on a block feeding kale system, buffer zones and a sediment trap, and the second was a generational wintering barn system.  We talked about how to manage environmental risks around wintering, and learnt some top tips for fencing and portable watering troughs.

In June 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 Waianiwa Stream. 

2021 and 2022 saw the group take a strong role in an Oreti Catchment Group English as a Second Language in Southland Project, to scope and better understand how to support the adoption of good wintering practice in Southland when English is a second language for farm workers. They worked with Mid Oreti and Waihopai Catchment Groups and the two page project summary sheet can be found here: International Farming Communities Project Page

These Catchment Groups will continue to work with their international farming communities and local stakeholders and agencies to find ways to develop and support the continued update of Good Management Practices on farms across Southland, and builder stronger, more diverse Farm Teams and Community Catchment Groups.

On the 20th July 2022 they had their first community meeting with a Know Your Catchment Issues & Actions Workshop. It was all about bringing locals together to get their Catchment Group off to a great start by better understand their catchment, identifying any issues, and figuring out their next steps as a group. They worked closely with local Environmental Consultancy Land & Water Science, who created a short easy to read handout on their Catchment Group area (which you can find by clicking the button below - Understanding Lower Oreti Catchment Summary) along with a 30 minute video with extra information - click this link: Lower Oreti Understanding Our Catchment Video or watch in the video window below.

Projects completed continued

They followed this up in November with an evening event with Dr. Clint Rissmann, learning about possible mitigations they could use on farm and across their catchment, and finished the year with a fantastic visit to Gavin Macpherson’s constructed wetland (covering 2 ha of a 115 ha catchment), followed by a Christmas BBQ & Lawn Bowls social

Future projects and events

We plan to run events to bring people together to share knowledge and skills, access expert advice and information. Our aim is to work on projects that are useful to our catchment and the local community. 

Our next steps are:

  • Gather local ground and surface water monitoring data on our area, and combine with soil and geology information to continue to develop our knowledge of our catchment

  • Run a stream health monitoring session

  • Approach local schools to see if they are keen to work with us

  • Support other Southland Catchment Group events, especially ones on animal pests and growing your own native plant

Future ideas are:

  • Understand stream health and water quality 

  • Farm Environmental Plan assistance 

  • Riparian planting assistance 

  • Wintering system trials 

  • Pest management and trapping programme 

Hosted events / meetings

  • Wintering Field day – 29 June 2021

  • Know Your Catchment Issues & Actions Workshop and Community Meeting – 20 July 2022

  • Potential mitigations discussion with Clint Rissmann – 16 November 2022

  • Wonderful Wetland & Christmas Lawn Bowls Social – 2 December 2022

Representatives from Steering Group members also regularly attend twice yearly Southland Catchment Group Forum meetings and the annual Oreti Catchment Group Leaders Get Together. They are also very supportive of attending wider Southland Catchment Group events and initiatives. 

Contact us

Email us at

Message us on our Facebook Page

Or contact the Lower Oreti Catchment Group Coordinator Sarah Thorne on 027 5885 200 or email 

Keep up with the latest

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