December 2020: The Catchment Group kicked off with a Rapid Habitat Assessment field day and BBQ. With the help of the Land Sustainability team from Environment Southland we looked at 3 different sections of the Merton Stream and scored them based on a set of criteria. It was a ripper of an afternoon which was finished off with a chat about the possibilities of a catchment group, a cold drink and a BBQ.
May 2021: In May the group took up the offer of some environmental-DNA tests. They took water samples from the Lilburn and Merton Streams. The process involved passing water through a filter that was attached to the end of syringe. The filter captured DNA that was in the water. We sent the filters to Wilderlab for analysis. We got some really awesome results and feedback from the lab - highlights were Kanakana (lamprey) and Gollum Galaxids among so many other interesting species.
July 2021: In early July the catchment group got together at the Town and Country club to hear from a member of the Dipton and Pourakino Catchment Groups to learn how they got started, what they have learnt and what they are up to. They also went over the fantastic eDNA results and started chatting about 'what next' for the group.
July 2021: At the end of the month the group came together for their first real Committee meeting. They had some great discussions about the direction of the group, how to increase engagement, why they wanted to be involved in a catchment group and what they could do first. The consensus was to hold an 'understanding our numbers' evening. A bit of social and a bit of information around what water quality results and numbers actually mean for the Lower Waiau area.
October 2021: Know Our Numbers was the theme of the October Catchment Group evening. We were very lucky to have water quality specialist Justin Kitto from DairyNZ present to us on the current conditions of freshwater in the Waiau catchment. He provided some great context and had some great handouts and pictures of what water quality means and what it looks like. We rounded out the evening with a delicious supper and social catch up.
November 2021: At a small committee meeting in November an exciting project idea was floated for a mobile wintering structure. The group discussed the concept at length and then voted to progress it further by working on a project proposal and applying for funding from Thriving Southland. They also made a plan for the next community event in February and set a date for the next committee meeting.
February 2022: The group started the year with a Community BBQ and swim at the Clifden Bridge. A slightly windy but warm Friday night was the perfect opportunity for a social catch up, a sausage and a handful of people enjoyed a less than tropical dip in the mighty Waiau river!
March 2022: With the dreaded Covid hanging around the committee meeting went online. A great zoom meeting saw the group finalise their plans for submitting the Mobile Wintering Structure Project funding application. Fingers crossed for the panel decision due end March!
January 2023: A fun family day out was held at the end of the summer holidays learning how to do a Stream Health assessment on two sights on the Lilburn stream, thanks to the ES Land Sustainability Team for guiding us through this. The highlight was finding lots of critters at the Kings property highlighting the great state of this part of the stream, followed by a great BBQ.