Catchment Group Support

Getting started Group goals and structure Applying for funding Your catchment's situation Water quality and biodiversity Practical group steps Positive actions on-farm Keeping up momentum Regional information Additional resources

Catchment groups offer a great opportunity for you and your local community to enhance and improve the biodiversity, water quality, and amenity value of your catchment and downstream environs. DairyNZ is here to empower you and your group to achieve your goals and aspirations.

There are a number of great resources to assist you and your group at whatever stage your catchment group is at. If you’re just getting started or part of a well-established group, check out the helpful resources in the sections below.

The importance of catchment groups

Catchment groups are New Zealand’s best opportunity in a generation to make progress on improving our waterways, and native biodiversity on farm.

Formed for a variety of reasons, these groups offer a platform for sharing knowledge, adopting good management practices, addressing challenges related to water management and ultimately helping communities enhance their local environments.

Why get involved

Catchment groups have been established up and down the country with increasing support from industry and Government. This is because it has been recognised that local community involvement is one of the keys to the long-term health and enhancement of waterways and biodiversity in a catchment.

Being involved in a catchment group can yield substantial benefits in terms of positive environmental and community outcomes. With a wide variety of support available, there has never been a better time to get involved.

Getting started

Have you thought about forming a catchment group but are not sure where to start? Check out:

You’ll find a step-by-step guide to getting your community and local iwi together to build a shared vision and action plan for your catchment.

Creating the goals and structure of your group

Once you have a group established, you’ll need to define your vision and goals, and decide on a group structure. It’s important that your group’s structure works for your members. Structures range from informal to formal. Formal groups will have assigned roles such as a chairperson, secretary, treasurer etc. You may also choose to become an incorporated society or charitable trust.

What’s best for your group? Read the following resources by the NZ Landcare Trust:

Applying for funding

Most catchment groups will require funding to achieve your goals. As a group – you'll need to sell yourselves and your project to potential funders.

To get started, read the Guide to successful grant applications by Exult – one of New Zealand’s leading community training providers.

DairyNZ and Landcare trust have co-developed resources to find out what funding is available nationally and regionally. Head to Lancare Trust: NZ Landcare Trusts Funding Resources by Region, and see their Tips and Tricks for Funding Applications.

Understanding your catchment's current situation

What’s the environmental ‘health’ like in your catchment? How do you find out and what information do you need?

Understanding your catchment and where it sits environmentally is an important part of the process of deciding what you would like to achieve as a group. Baseline data and information for your catchment give you a good foundation from which to measure improvements and understand where the major issues are in your catchment.

To get a broad understanding of the environmental health near you, search Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA) for local information on river, lake and groundwater water quality, recreational water quality, water quantity, land cover and estuary health.

Waterways - water quality and biodiversity

There are many variables to consider when looking at water quality. These include physical and chemical characteristics. See NZ Landcare Trust’s Water Quality Terms for descriptions of variables such as clarity; conductivity; dissolved oxygen; habitat, nitrogen – and more.

Conducting an eDNA test can be a great way to understand what biodiversity you have in your catchment's waterways and get an understanding of overall waterway health. An eDNA assessment will also provide you with a taxon-independent community index (TICI) score, which will give your waterway a score from very poor to pristine.

To get started with eDNA to collect your baseline data, see:

TICI score

Practical steps you can take as a group

Improving the overall health of your catchment involves reducing the impacts of contaminants. This means both contaminant reduction at the source and implementing proactive mitigation solutions such as riparian planting.

The following resources give useful tips for reducing contaminants and their impacts:

Groundwater flow infographic

Positive actions on-farm

There are a number of positive actions you can take as a group to improve the catchment. For example:

  • Fencing waterways and critical source areas
  • Riparian strip planting of waterways
  • Buffer planting
  • Fish ladders
  • Wetland management

Catchment group action on-farm - riparian planting

See the following to find out more:

Keeping up group momentum

Initial success and progress are important however, for long-term success and improvement, you need to ensure your group has longevity. There are many aspects to ensuring long-term success, supporting your coordinators, and ensuring that you have a range of people with different skill sets involved, alongside achievable goals and good links to funding sources.

For additional technical support for your group, a good option is to register with the A2E who provide technical support for all aspect of catchment group management.

Read the following to find out more:

Regional information

Northland - Te Tai Tokerau

Auckland- Tāmaki-makau-rau


Bay of Plenty- Te Moana-a-Toi

Gisborne- Te Tairāwhiti

Hawke’s Bay- Te Matau-a-Māui



Wellington- Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara- Waiarapa

Tasman- Te Tai-o-Aorere

Marlborough- Te Tauihu-o-te-waka

West Coast- Te Tai Poutini

Canterbury - Waitaha

Otago - Ōtākou

Southland - Murihiku

Groups doing great things

Last updated: Dec 2023

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