July 2021: With some new information coming to the fore about geology in the Orauea area a community event was prompted. The community got together at the Orawia and Districts Community Centre to hear from scientist Dr. Clint Rissmann about the strong presence of Mudstone surrounding the Orauea River and it's correlation between sediment and e-coli in waterways. At the end of the meeting there was strong support for an Orauea River Catchment Group to form.
August 2021: The first committee meeting was held to revisit the information from the science presentation and talk about the opportunities of what we would do with it. The group decided that it was of the utmost importance to engage as many land owners as possible and share with them the geological information so that everyone is on the same page and offered the opportunity to be involved and help shape the direction of the catchment group. So the 'what next' will be another community event that includes a speaker from the Pomahaka Water Care Group to provide inspiration and motivation to be involved and also Dr. Clint Rissmann (kindly sponsored by West Range farms) to go over the scientific info and also share some ideas on options of how the catchment group could progress towards a potential mitigation project.
October 2021: Community meeting number 2 was held in October and went to plan as above. Lloyd McCall from the Pomohaka Water Care Group shared some wisdoms and experiences from his time being involved in catchment groups, Paul Turner from the Upper Aparima Catchment Group chaired the meeting and we were joined again by Clint and Andrew from Land and Water Science. A big part of the discussion was; "what can we do with this information to take it further?" Following some very useful direction from the LaWS guys and some farmer ideas, a next meeting date was set to come up with a plan!
December 2021: To finish off the year the catchment group hosted a BBQ and project discussion at the Orawia Community Centre. They talked about a draft project proposal and made the decision over a delicious steak sammie to progress it further and aim to apply for some Thriving Southland funding in March 2022.
February 2022: A committee meeting saw the project plans finalised and a motion passed to officially apply for the Thriving funding. The extension/activities plan was drafted and some catchment signage was discussed. The group unanimously voted on their new logo design, plans were made for an Orauea River Catchment Group facebook page and email address. The next community event scheduled is the Environment Southland and Te Ao Marama environmental challenges update.
March 2022: Covid difficulties saw the ES and TAMI presentation go digital! An online meeting in March attracted a good number of farmers and stakeholders to hear about the direction of travel of freshwater regulations and limit setting. The presentation provided good context for where Southland is headed and the value of the catchment group project in meeting future regs.
March also saw the group submit their project application! Fingers crossed for the panel decision due end of the month.