Regional Forum

Playing a part in Southland's future

The Regional Forum is a community based group that will advise Environment Southland’s council and Te Ao Marama board members on how we can achieve the communities’ aspirations for freshwater. Members of the forum will consider the specific policies and rules as well as the on-ground initiatives required to make change and improve Southland’s water and land for generations to come.

In this important role, members will play a key part in shaping how Southland’s water resources are managed now and in the future.

After each workshop it is our intention to share an overview of what the forum has been working on.

Workshop Two - 9 & 10 May 2019

During the second workshop in Gore, forum members had an opportunity to meet with members of the Environment Southland monitoring team and see how they carry out water quality and quantity monitoring at the Mataura River at Gore’s monitoring site. On day two, the forum members visited farms in the Knapdale and Wyndham areas and met with local runaka representatives on the banks of the Mataura River at Mataura to learn more about the mātaitai and the history of the area. A public session was also held, where Wyndham angler Alan Leitch and Environment Southland councillor Maurice Rodway presented on the history of the Mataura Conservation Order. Doyle Richardson from Alliance spoke about their business and the environmental challenges they face looking to the future.

Check out the short highlights video from the workshop.

The key takeout messages from the group were:

  • Technology and innovation continues to drive change We developed a timeline of key historical events that shaped Southland’s economy, communities and environment. We recognise that technology and innovation will play an important part in the changes to come in Southland’s future.
  • Concern about the impact we’ve all had on the environmentWe are concerned at the change that has occurred in our environment, and are keen to look to the future and help communities and industries understand and make improvements that benefit us all.
  • Coming to grips with the complexity We are starting to build a picture of the complexity of Southland’s environment through field trips, speakers and presentations. Southland’s landscape, geology, waterways and communities were covered, as well as the regulatory environment. This was done with a particular focus on the Mataura catchment.
  • Talking to people on the ground is importantWhile spending time understanding the theory is important, we all agreed that there’s nothing quite like seeing action ‘on-the-ground’, talking with industry reps, local community members and farmers really helped us to understand the challenging issues and complex decisions that need to be made.
  • There’s a high level of interest in what we’re doingThanks to everyone who came along to the public session on Friday during the workshop. Your interest in what we are doing and your contribution to the conversation is so important.

Workshop One - 4 & 5 April 2019

This first workshop focused on allowing the members to start to get to know one another; to start exploring their roles and responsibilities as well as the roles of Environment Southland and Te Ao Marama; to start developing a code of conduct and begin to explore the context of the work ahead, in particular change and decision making.

Check out this short highlights video from the first workshop.

The key takeout messages from the group were:

  • We have started! The Forum members are excited to have started on the journey. They are looking forward to receiving the community’s values and objectives from the Share your Wai campaign.
  • Thanks to the Marae team and the Awarua Runanga who made us so welcome – We couldn’t think of a better place to start our journey. The group started their work by considering the context within which decisions on freshwater are made. Bluff was a great place to look out over the region, exploring the relationship of freshwater bodies within the physical landscape and the concept of ki uta ki tai, mountains to the sea. The group considered the role of time in decision making, exploring social, economic and other historical trends on freshwater uses, the interconnections and interdependencies between communities. Beginning their work within the beautiful Te Rau Aroha Marae enabled the group to explore different cultural frames within which decisions are made.
  • We have begun building a united group where our diversity of thinking and perspectives can be harnessed for a common purpose to achieve positive outcomes for the Southland community. The group recognised the diverse skills, experience and perspectives they brought to the table and agreed they share a genuine desire to learn from and understand each other.
  • We wish to thank the members of the public who contributed Lloyd Esler and Estelle Pera-Leask who led the field trips, sharing their historic knowledge and the work of the Motopuhue Trust, as well as the Environment Southland/ Te Ao Marama staff who worked together seamlessly as one team. We also want to thank all those that took the time to come to the public session and join us for a workshop exploring our ‘Vision for the future’.
  • We feel we are part of a wider whanau of Murihiku, working together for the good of the region and are looking forward to the challenge ahead!

Click here to find out more about each of the forum members.

For more information, email

Useful documents

Regional Forum - Factsheet
Regional Forum - Terms of Reference - December 2018