Waihopai Catchment Group

Waihopai Catchment Group covers a large rural area in eastern central Southland (Oreti Freshwater Management Unit) which includes the rural communities of Myross Bush, Kennington, Woodlands, Rimu, Dacre, Spurhead and Morton Mains, down to the Invercargill City boundary.


Bob Schmidt (Convener)




Group coordinator

Sarah Thorne

Number of members in the CG

There is a core group of 12 key members, with a wider network of farming and community members that attend events and keep up-to-date with the group’s activities.

Date the Catchment Group started

October 2019

Types of people in the group

Farmers, rural professionals, community, industry members and the local school. Everyone is welcome!

Projects completed

 Information sharing and learnings around the health of local waterways from Roger Hodson, Senior Environmental Scientist - Surface Water Quality at Environment Southland.

Mid-winter calving and lambing get-together: Friends and neighbours got together to learn about their local Catchment Group in a relaxed and informal setting and were given an opportunity to add any ideas for new projects in the Waihopai Catchment.
Attended Woodlands School Year 4 to 8 students’ presentation regarding their Outdoor Learning Area and their future ideas and plans. Potential to work with the students on some of these projects.

Projects underway

Bringing the University of Otago New Zealand Marine Studies Centre Aquavan* back to Southland in March 2021 to run the Discovering our Catchment and Coastal Connections Education programme with 700 Year 5 to Year 8 students in Gore and Invercargill over seven days, along with two community events.

* The Aquavan is specially designed to transport live marine critters and touch pools to schools and communities, to create awareness and understanding of the connectivity between river health and the coastal environment.

Projects planned

Ideas for possible future project areas include:

1.   Learning about our stream health:
      a. Summary of water quality in Catchment (to understand where we are at)
      b. Work out where to monitor to track the results of our activities
      c. Learn how to monitor (Rapid Habitat Assessment or Stream Health Monitoring
          Assessment Kit – SHMAK)
      d. Understand results

2.    Work with local schools and students (primary, secondary and tertiary)
       a. Support Woodlands School and their Outdoor Learning Area

3.    Start a fish on drains project around Woodlands to increase understanding of what happens when water (and whatever else is with it) goes into our drain systems and into our freshwater and coastal environment

4.    Look into local recycling options: farm and household

5.     Organise farm visits and field days on useful topics, including a session with Environment Southland - new consent process (once decided)

6.    Work with B+LNZ to run one of their Farm Environment Management Plan workshops in our area

7.    Look at options to source/set up a native plant nursery

8.    Look at ways to raise awareness of our Catchment Group; what we do, and how they can become involved.

Hosted events / meetings

Regular meetings every few months in the family room at the Woodlands Tavern.

Our stories

Waihopai named most improving river:
Environment Southland - https://www.es.govt.nz/about-us/news?item=id:27y20ia3x17q9s7a4vow  

IRANZ (Independent Research Association of New Zealand) - https://www.iranz.org.nz/news/2019/cawthron_river_awards.html

More about us

We are a young Catchment Group with a huge passion for our local community, especially our younger generations.

We want to educate and work as a community to come up with practical solutions to improve our waterways for our future generations.

Our Vision
Waihopai community – working together to look after our waterways

Our Mission
Educate and work as a community to drive practical solutions to improve our waterways for future generations
Our Goals

  1. Continue to monitor the waterways, and spread Good Management Practices to improve the health of our waterways and what lives in them
  2. Educate the community in waterway health for generations to come
  3. Share good stories of what is happening in our catchment to enhance pride in our community

Our Values

  • Friendly and approachable
  • Work together as a community
  •  Integrity & respect
  • Celebrate our success as a community

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