Environment Southland

Water Story

Haere mai and welcome to our new and evolving Water Story. This is a place where you can learn more about how our fresh waterways are doing and what some of the key stresses on them are. We’ll also be sharing and profiling some of the great things that are going on across the region in an effort to help maintain and improve them. We hope you’ll come on this journey with us.


No action is too small, it will take us all

A surge of projects and actions are taking place across Southland by individuals, groups, schools, and farmers alike to improve our waterways.

In June, Environment Southland teamed up with Sunrise Rotary Invercargill and the community to hold a river clean-up along the stop banks of the Waihōpai River. Around 100 people of all ages braved the cold and wet conditions, picking up more than 660 kg of rubbis ... Read More.

Piecing together the New River Estuary

About 50 experts and community members recently met with the common goal of working together for the health and wellbeing of the New River Estuary near Invercargill.

The discussion was initiated by ecologist and environmental scientist Dr Jane Kitson, Sunrise Rotary member Richard Kyte, Labour List MP Dr Liz Craig, and New Zealand Landcare Trust Southland Catchment Group project coordinator, Sarah Thorne.

Over the past 150 years, the estuary has been significantly affected by ... Read More.

From the river to the sea

The Mataura River is a recreational playground and a living classroom for the children and young people of Otama School.

Situated approximately 20 kilometres north-west of Gore, the school has been supporting students to care for, and study the Mataura River for some time now; learning invaluable lessons about the environment and life. The first school in Southland to be awarded with the EnviroSchools' Green-Gold sta ... Read More.

Water – it's a family thing

Southland schoolteacher Jane Milne is appreciative of the many things our local rivers and lakes give to her, though it's water's ability to connect her with family and provide a sense of place that stand out the most.

Jane's relationship with water began early, first with swimming and then through sailing with her family. During the holidays, more often than not, time is spent near or in the water.

"A lot of family holidays are around water. Whether it's gold panning along th ... Read More.


"Kaitiakitanga – it's a responsibility, not a privilege", says Stewart Bull.

Based on the idea of humans as part of the natural world, kaitiakitanga is a worldview of environmental guardianship and protection. "It's not just a responsibility for Māori, it's for everyone; it's about community. If we can all take on this role, we can all benefit."

Stewart (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Māmoe, Waitaha) has been working in the community and on conservation matters in the Southland region for m ... Read More.