Lower Oreti Catchment Group

The Lower Oreti Catchment Group covers the flat and gently undulating alluvial terraces on the lower reaches of the Oreti River catchment, from Drain Road in the north down to Ferry Road in the South, and borders the Waimatuku catchment in the west, Mid Oreti to the north and the Hedgehope-Makarewa catchment in the east.

Our main surface water catchments are the lower Oreti and Makarewa Rivers, Waianiwa Creek, Otakau Creek and the Tomoporakau Creek.

Group coordinator

Georgie Galloway - Catchment Group Leader

Sarah Thorne
027 588 5200

Days of work: Monday - Thursday (lunchtime)


Understand NAIT traceability, animal welfare and how to protect your Primary Industry Evening

Oreti Bus Trip

Know Our Catchment – issues and actions workshop, Understanding International Farming Communities

Who we are 

The Lower Oreti Catchment Group was formed in June 2021 to support farmers and our local community come together to look after our environment and waterways.

We 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 goals are to:

  • Better understand the challenges around balancing farm production with sustainable land use, and improved water quality and biodiversity

  • Identify opportunities and drive farmer-led, grassroots action

  • Respond to changing environmental policies and shifting consumer behaviours.

Types of people in our group 

We bring together a diverse group of people from different backgrounds and land uses. Everyone is welcome, and we currently have 75 people who are part of our Catchment Group community.

Everyone is welcome. 

How we work

We have a strong core team of 5 people who meet 3 to 4 times a year at local venues, and plan projects, events and get togethers. Our members also attend twice yearly Southland Catchment Group Forum meetings and Oreti Catchment Group Leaders Get Togethers. We are also very supportive of cross catchment events and initiatives, and our members often attend other Southland Catchment Group events.

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 that year we 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. Our sample was taken from the Waianiwa Stream.

2021 and 2022 saw the group take a strong role in an Oreti Catchment Groups English as a Second Language in Southland Project (Understanding Our International Farming Communities), 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. We worked with Mid Oreti and Waihopai Catchment Groups and the two page project summary sheet can be found here.

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 we had their first community meeting with a Know Your Catchment Issues & Actions Workshop. It was all about bringing locals together to get our Catchment Group off to a great start by better understand our catchment, identifying any issues, and figuring out our next steps as a group. We worked closely with local Environmental Consultancy Land & Water Science, who created a short easy to read handout on our Catchment Group area (which you can find on this webpage) along with a 30 minute video with extra information.

We followed this up in November with an evening event with Dr. Clint Rissmann, learning about possible mitigations that we could use on farm and across our 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.

2023 saw the group be a crucial part of the first Mid & Lower Oreti bus trip. We helped organise this trip and hosted two of the four sites visited – Gavin MacPherson’s constructed wetland and Marshalls Farm, and provided a delicious BBQ lunch. All seven Oreti Catchment Groups came together to organise and run this trip, and hope to run more in the future.

The group were asked to speak about the bus trip project at the April Thriving Southland Stakeholder Breakfast, and then organised three great field days to help share knowledge and ideas.

  • The Stream Health Field Day was all about citizen science and learning about two easy ways to help understand the health of your streams – Rapid habitat Assessment and looking at the macroinvertebrates (the little critters that live in your streams). This was followed by a cuppa and a chat on water quality with DairyNZ Water Quality Specialist Justin Kitto. Many thanks to Environment Southland & DairyNZ who helped support this event.

  • Wintering Field Day looking at a successful wintering system using a mixture of kale and multi species in a block grazing system with baleage as supplement. Many thanks to Graham Marshall, Gail Lilley and Georgie Galloway who organised and ran an excellent field day

  • Understand NAIT traceability, animal welfare and how to protect your Primary Industry Evening – run with MPI NAIT & Animal Welfare, OSPRI, Datamars/Tru-test experts after locals told the Catchment Group they needed some tips and support with NAIT. It was a great evening, that could easily be replicated in other catchments.

Later in the year we joined a wetland identification project with our neighbour Lower Aparima Catchment Group, to understand how water moves through our catchment and where it collects to form “wetlands”.

The project came together with the creation of an online tool which gathers all this information, and gets people starting to think about their properties and what they can do to make the best use of the wet area and all the benefits they bring – water quality improvement, flood, drought resilience, carbon sequestration and biodiversity. This is still in the trial stage, and will be shared with the Lower Oreti Catchment Group community after it is finalised in 2024.

We finished the year by picking up our new Lower Oreti Catchment Group sign, purchased using BNZ Catchment Group Funding. Many thanks to BNZ and Lee Cowan for supporting this, and to Stacey, Georgie and Callum for their design ideas.

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

Our next steps are:

  • Put up our new Catchment Group sign!

  • Develop our stream health assessment skills and do some at key places in our are.

  • Understand and share our new wetland information

  • Keep building our knowledge of our catchment.

  • Help organise future Oreti Bus Trips to help better understand our catchment, it’s connections and what we can do to look after it.

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

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

Future ideas are:

  • 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

  • Mid & Lower Oreti Bus Trip (co-organised by all the Oreti Catchment Groups) – 22 March 2023

  • Speaker at Thriving Southland Stakeholder Breakfast – 20 April 2023

  • Oreti Catchment Group Leaders Annual Get Together – 3 July 2023

  • Stream Health Field Day – 15 June 2023

  • Wintering Field Day (kale and multi species) – 30 June 2023

  • Understand NAIT traceability, animal welfare and how to protect your Primary Industry Evening – 17 October 2023

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