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.


Celebration time at Bushy Point

Bushy Point

The public is invited to join in on the festivities at a special celebration at Bushy Point in Otatara next month.

On Saturday 14 September, the Otatara Landcare Group will be hosting its annual planting day and will be celebrating not one, but three massive milestones at the Bushy Point site: 30,000 native plantings, 15,000 hours of volunteer service, and 20 years since the group first formed.

Barry Smith, chair of the Otatara Landcare Group, says the upcoming triple celebrations at Bushy Point will be a fun, family affair, with plenty on offer for everyone.

"We have a mystery guest lined up, there will be a barbeque and giveaways, and of course, an opportunity for the community to get involved with some plantings. The day will also coincide with Conservation Week."

Commencing in 2000, it is believed that the Otatara Landcare Group was the first group in the country to get a 30 year concession to turn a 14 hectare area of grazing land administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC) into native bush and wetland habitat. By planting native species, the aim was to link the isolated forest remnant at the northern end of the Bushy Point conservation area with the larger forested area in private ownership adjacent to Bushy Point. Animal pest and weed control is also undertaken.

"We have a group of people with great expertise in wide ranging fields, including an ecologist, botanist, ornithologist and historian". Volunteers, the Otatara community, and schoolchildren all pitch in, and current membership of the Landcare Group now includes 200 households.

"We've always had a plan – from five-, 10-, 15-, 20- to 60-years. We have a vision, and through our ideas, we refine them."

In 2011, the group was selected to be a part of the Living Legends programme, a community conservation project funded by Project Crimson, Meridian Energy and The Tindall Foundation, along with DOC. The aim was to celebrate and leave a legacy of New Zealand's hosting of the Rugby World Cup, with 17 planting areas selected from across the country. Each site was dedicated to a local rugby legend – Southland's being Kevin Laidlaw.

"Compared to its size, relatively few people turned up to the (Living Legends planting day) event in Auckland. At ours, 260 people turned up. In one and a half hours, we had 5,000 plants in the ground."

Living Legends was such a success that the group was funded to plant even more trees than the original 10,000. "At the end of the six-year period we had 14,000 plants in the ground and we were the only Group with our Living Legend still attached to the programme.

"I thought, that's Southland".

"We had to figure out ways and means of getting all of the plants into the ground. It was like a 100-metre sprint for three years."

Barry's vision for the future is to be able to go down to any creek or river, take a mug, and be able to drink from it.

"It will take some time to do it, but it is achievable."

When: Saturday 14 September, from 9.30 am
Where: Bushy Point, access and off-roading parking from 5 Bryson Rd, Otatara
What: Conservation Week – Annual Planting Day, BBQ, games and competitions, spot prizes and giveaways, a mystery guest, and the cutting of the cake.

For more information, go to https://otataralandcare.org.nz