Mid Oreti Catchment Group

The area covers from Tussock Creek in the south up to Taringatura in the north. To the east the area extends out along state highway 96 to just past Springhills and then to the West a few kilometres east of Drummond. The central area of the Mid Oreti Catchment Group is the Winton Township, and the main surface waters found in this area are the Oreti River and the Winton Stream.

Number of members in the CG

The Mid Oreti Catchment Group is a diverse group of 120 people from around rural Central Southland and Winton.  It has a strong core group of 4 people, with field days attended by up to 60 people and growing!

Date the Catchment Group started

October 2019

Types of people in the group

Wide variety of people in the group from different land uses and backgrounds with one thing in common - everyone has a passion for improvement in our community’s environment with a focus on water quality in the Mid Oreti Space. From deer to beef and sheep and dairy farmers, to rural professionals and community members from the Winton township, everyone is welcome! 

How we work

The group meets regularly - when needed, but roughly four times a year at the Winton Top pub. Our core committee meets every two months to keep things ticking along.

We hold an annual planning evening early in the year, where we plan our meetings, training, events and project work for the upcoming year, and pop it onto a one page calendar.  And advertise our events on our colourful Facebook page, as well as in the Winton Outlook and on the Winton Community Pages.

The group also sends members to the twice yearly Southland Catchment Group Forum meetings, Catchment Group training opportunities, Oreti Catchment Group Leaders Get Togethers and supports other Southland Catchment Group initiatives.

Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement

We have launched the Mid Oreti Mini Forest Project!

This is a new long term project that will help us become more self-sufficient as a group. 1000 trees have been kindly donated by AB Lime that groups/farms can apply for their projects, which we will help them plan and plant out for a donation. We as a group will collect seeds, germinate and establish them, to provide for more projects in the future. We will learn and educate through this process. There are more details attached in the files below, please contact us ( if you have any queries or want to be involved in the project!

Projects completed

The Mid Oreti Catchment Group organise a wide variety of events and projects to support both their farming and Winton township communities. To showcase innovative farming ideas to help look after the environment, they have run some excellent field days on sediment bunds and composting barns. To help their communities learn new skills and techniques they have run hands on practical sessions on grow your own natives and monitoring stream health. To help raise awareness and make changes for improved environmental outcomes they have run sessions on funding and keeping up to date with Southland’s environmental challenges and potential solutions to them. They always try and include a social and fun aspect to their events (often involving food!), to bring people together and look after them.

In amongst all of their events and projects, they have also supported Southland wide Catchment Group initiatives like the Aquavan “Discovering your catchment and coastal connections” education programme, the Thriving Southland Ladies Enviro series, and took part in the nationwide eDNA (environmental DNA) water quality monitoring programme along with the other Southland Catchment Groups. They also had a representative on the Winton Wastewater Treatment Plant Working Group, looking at the resource consent renewal for the treatment plant.

In 2021 they were one of three Catchment Groups who undertook a scoping study on how to support the adoption of good wintering practice in Southland when English is a second language. This was wrapped up in 2022 with the creation of a two page project summary sheet can be found They plan to continue to work with their international farming communities to support this work and make Southland and its Catchment Groups a welcoming place for all.

In 2021 they were rewarded for their efforts when they received a highly commended for Environmental Action in the Community at the Environment Southland Community Award Evening, and in 2022 they were runners up for the inaugural Catchment Group category at the Southland Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

2021 saw the creation of the Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement, along side a focus of supporting landowners, community groups and other Catchment Groups learn how to grow their own native plants. Regular Grow Your Own Native Workshops have been run throughout the year over 2022 and 2023, with animal pest control being added in 2023. The group also helps schools and community groups plant out their native plants and are keep to work alongside local groups, people and businesses who are keen to support this too.

In 2023 the group received a fantastic grant from the Westpac Watercare Project to purchase native plants and plant protectors for Years 2 and 3 of the Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement, whilst the project’s baby plants are growing. Huge thanks to Westpac and NZ Landcare Trust for this amazing funding.

Alongside their projects and events they joined with the other 6 Oreti Catchment Groups to host a Mid & Lower Oreti bus trip to help understand their catchment better and all the great work that is being done to look after it. This idea came about after the 2022 annual get together of the Oreti Catchment Groups, and included stops looking at New River Estuary, a constructed wetland, native biodiversity and good farming practices. We hope it is the start of many Oreti bus trips, and a copy of the booklet created for the bus trip can be found here.

The group also continue to run an annual composting wintering barn event, which also covered deer wintering in 2023, and regular events to help landowners understand current rules, regulations and funding opportunities affecting the farming sector. They are always keen to share their knowledge and support others to help practical on the ground changes to look after land, water and people across Southland.

They finished 2023 by speaking about their Mini Forest Movement and Marshalling the Best projects at the Southland Catchment Group Forum and Southand Ecological Restoration Network (SERN) bus trip. They are always keen to share their knowledge and support others.

Here is a snapshot of some of our favorite events and activities:

  • Runoff Detainment Bund & Nursery Field Day – Sediment bunds have been created to slow the flow of runoff from the dairy farm hill catchment, to reduce sediment and nutrient loss to waterways when it rains. Top tips to set up your own native plant nursery (with no experience needed!) were shared, and many questions answered. Over 50 people joined in.

  • Winton Ecological Stream Health Field Day – Fun, interactive session with Freshwater Ecologist Robin Holmes (Cawthron Institute), to show the group lots of easy to use techniques to work out how healthy a stream is by looking at the macroinvertebrates (stream bugs) and using the one page Rapid Habitat Assessment.

  • Red shed set up and running! - Mid Oreti Catchment Group’s very own meeting space cleaned and refurbished using an old school on Fiona and Steve Smith property at AB Lime. In 2023 the group decided to use local meeting spaces in Winton, as more central for everyone.

  • Rapid Habitat Assessment training session – Quick and easy technique, scoring 10 categories on a one-page sheet, to help people work out the health of their stream without getting wet! Anyone can use it on their farm or in their community. Followed up with a quick chat about the good points of the stream, and what could be done to make it better.

  • Grow Your Own Native events - practical workshops where people can stay from 5 mins to an hour learning and doing seed collection, processing, sowing and potting, with extra info on native plant identification, right plant, right place, right purpose.

  • Winton Stream eDNA and Water Quality Testing Demonstration Session – Practical, easy and fun session covering a variety of different ways to take water samples using plastic bottles and a sonde.

  • First Mid Oreti Catchment Group event on Marshalls Creek! Trained locals up to use the easy one-page Rapid Habitat Assessment technique, and lots of sites were monitored. This creek runs through the heart of Winton, and is a great place to bring people together to learn new skills, meet new people and learn how to look after our waterways.

  • Composting Barn Field Days - Steve Smith, AB Lime’s General Manager, hosts groups and interested people at their composting barn trial. They talk (warts and all) about how it is going and their plans for the future, and answer all the questions. In 2023, the team started to add other local farm wintering systems to the field day too.

  • Environment Southland & Te Ao Marama Talk on Southland’s Future Environmental Challenges – one of the first of these talks in Southland, which was followed up with a Regional Forum presentation the next year when their Recommendation Report was finished

  • Grow Your Own Natives Mini Workshop at Southland Catchment Groups Forum Meeting – to help other Catchment Groups learn how to grow natives and start their own nurseries and Mini Forest Movement projects ·

  • Funding for Farmers for Better Environmental Outcomes – a great range of short presentations and stands from local organisations that have funding or free support opportunities for better environmental outcomes on farm or in the community. Covered a range of opportunities including planting, protecting native bush, wetland development and Farm Plans.

  • Ballance Farm Environment Awards nomination – inspiring to look back on all that the group has done in just a few years, and get feedback on how we could develop in the future.

  • Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement planting events – love getting our plants in the ground and enhancing biodiversity and working with different people and communities across our patch & monthly native plant nursery drop in sessions.

  • Mid & Lower Oreti Bus Trip (co-organised by all the Oreti Catchment Groups) – loved being part of this and help make it happen

Projects underway

Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement

Project started in 2021 to encourage the planting of native plants on local land, and increase native biodiversity and improve our environment in the Mid Oreti area. To kickstart this project, AB Lime kindly donated 1000 native plants, and the manpower to plan and plant these mini forests, along with the use of their nursery space.

Over the last two year 3500 plants have been rehomed across the Mid Oreti area to 6 schools and community groups and 9 farms. 6 workshops on how to grow your own natives have been run. Along with a Central Southland Seed Collection Calendar produced, 10 monthly native plant nursery drop in sessions held (started in 2023), community and school native planting sessions supported and a successful Westpac Watercare Project grant gained.

A regular band of monthly volunteers make the monthly drop in sessions great fun, and everyone is welcome to come along and learn. A huge part of the project is to upskill locals in native plant seed collection, propagation, planting and maintenance.

The group will keep propagating native plants for the nursery, and each year anyone in the Mid Oreti Catchment Group area can apply for native plants for $1/plant (waived for community groups and schools). Donations will go back into the project and help work towards making our Catchment Group self sufficient. Please look at their key project documents if you are keen to know more 😊

In 2022, we received funding from Westpac Watercare Project to purchase native plants and plant protectors for years 2 and 3 of the project whilst waiting for our plants to grow. Many thanks to Westpac and the NZ Landcare Trust for this amazing funding.

Marshalling the Best

Developing an online spatial tool which identifies optimal locations for constructed wetlands and run off control structures for better water quality and biodiversity outcome in the Winton Stream Catchment. The project incudes helping locals learn to use it, with case study farms, workshops, field days and an easy to read document full to useful info.

On hold - Enhancement of Marshalls Creek running through the heart of Winton – long term project to work with the Winton community to look after and enhance Marshalls Creek, and raise awareness and educate the wider community on different aspects of stream restoration and techniques you can use.

Projects planned

  • Annual planning get together

  • Constructed wetland and bund field day at AB Lime

  • Autumn plantings for the Mid Oreti Forest Movement

  • Running a Freshwater Farm Plan Session

  • Create more educational sessions on how to propagate native plants, which might include some Youtube tutorials on what to do, and creating native plant growing kit for schools, people and groups

  • Explore providing local school and community groups with the resources to grow natives for the Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement

  • Organise an Upper Oreti Bus Trip with the other Oreti Catchment Groups

Hosted events / meetings

  • Two initial meetings were held to form a core group of interested people, brainstorming and consulting with the group on what the biggest issues in the area are to them, and projects that may like to be undertaken

  • Native tree nursery and runoff detainment bund field day held at AB Lime – 8 October 2020

  • Ecological Stream Health Training Workshop with Cawthron Freshwater Ecologist Robin Holmes – 23 October 2020

  • Development of a Mid Oreti Catchment Group meeting space – The Red Shed – February 2021

  • Rapid Habitat Assessment (RHA) Training Session at The Red Shed – 16 February 2021

  • Growing Natives Field Day at ABLime – 14 April 2021

  • Supported the first event of the 2021 Thriving Southland Ladies Enviro Nights Series (funding bid supported by group) – 27 April 2021

  • Winton Stream eDNA and Water Quality Testing Demonstration Session -12 May 2021

  • Supported the second event of the 2021 Thriving Southland Ladies Enviro Nights Series (funding bid supported by group) – 17 May 2021

  • Rapid Habitat Assessment of Marshall Creek – Session 1 – 16 June 2021

  • Spoke to the Oreti Community Board about their ideas for Marshalls Creek – 21 June 2021

  • Supporting Central Southland Aquavan Education Programme “Discovering our Catchment and Coastal Connections” for Year 5 to 8 students in the Central Southland area – June 2021

  • Composting Barn Field Day at ABLime – 21 July 2021

  • Spring Social BBQ: Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement Project Launch & eDNA presentation – 28 October 2021

  • Mighty Marshalls Creek Rubbish Clean Up – 11 November 2021

  • Environment Southland & Te Ao Marama Talk on Southland’s Future Environmental Challenges – 24 November 2021

  • 2021 Environment Southland Community Award Evening – highly commended for Environmental Action in the Community – 29 October 2021

  • Grow Your Own Natives Workshop Part 1: Carex – Flax – Tussocks – Toetoe – 10 February 2022

  • 2022 Planning Workshop – 2 March 2022

  • Grow Your Own Natives Workshop Part 2: Trees – 28 April 2022

  • Grow Your Own Natives Workshop at Southland Catchment Groups Forum Meeting – 3 May 2022

  • Mid Oreti Catchment Group Seed Collecting & Sowing Session for Mini Forest Movement Project – 26 May 2022

  • Ballance Farm Environment Awards Evening – Catchment Group Category – 9 June 2022

  • Funding for Farmers For Better Environmental Outcomes – 15 June 2022

  • Composting Wintering Barn Field Day: Year 2 – 7 July 2022

  • Regional Forum Update – 21 July 2022

  • Mini Forest Planting at Lochiel School pump bike track – 13 October 2022

  • Mini Forest Planting at Pete Thomson’s farm with Room 5 from Lochiel School – 19 October 2022

  • Grow Your Own Natives Workshop Part 3: Re-potting seedlings – 1 Nov 2022

  • Mid Oreti Mini Forest Movement Nursery Drop in session – every month from March 2023 to December 2023

  • Annual Mid Oreti Catchment Group Catch Up – 7 March 2023

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

  • Hosted Thriving Southland Catchment Group Couch Thank-you Photo Shoot – 19 April 2023

  • Seed Collecting & Animal Pest Walk – 24 May 2023

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

  • Composting Barn and Deer Farm Wintering Field Day: Year 3 – 12 July 2023

  • Spring Catch-Up – 27 September 2023

  • Lunchtime talk at Southland Restoration Network (SERN) Spring Field Trip – 11 November 2023

  • Grow Your Own Natives Summer Seed Collection & Sowing Workshop - & Feb 2024

  • Mid Oreti Annual Catch Up – 21 February 2024

Our stories

About our events:

Winton Outlook Newsletter May 2022

NZ Herald - The Country - Article - March 2022

Winton Outlook Newsletter March 2022

Winton Community Newsletter October 2023

Winton Outlook Newsletter December 2021
Winton Community Newsletter December 2023

Westpac Watercare Project 2023 Grants

BFEA Catchment Group Award Winners 2022

Also have a read below of our Mid Oreti Catchment Group Flyer, and our one pagers on our long term Marshalls Creek project and our results so far.

Check out our great Facebook Page, where we advertise all our events, and pop up fun and interesting information to support our group and what it does -


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