The importance of Catchment Groups - Edwin Mabonga

The importance of Catchment Groups - Edwin Mabonga

The importance of catchment groups


“Catchment groups are like churches in a community – not everyone goes to it, but people want to have one there,” says Edwin Mabonga, former chair of the Mid Upper Aparima catchment group in Southland.
The farmer, and passionate catchment group member and advocate, says that while catchment groups can sometimes be a challenge to start as often farmers are already so busy, the positive change they can bring about in a community is worth the work in the long run.
“When we first went to start, we had five people show up to the first meeting. Over time, sometimes our meetings would only have three people but people were still interested in how the meeting had gone. We just kept going, even if the numbers were low, and now the numbers have built up and we are doing more,” he says.
“It is not without its challenges, but it’s very much worth it. For some, people don’t like to hear they have a problem, whereas others are acknowledging it and wanting to know what can be done.”
“Three years on, we have a great team, everyone is focussed on the bigger picture, and we are making good changes in our catchment, and doing it with the support of the NZ Landcare Trust.”
“The Trust is a vital organisation in this space. They are teaching us new ways to farm when it comes to the environment. It is farming for the future, and they are leading the way with education and spreading the knowledge.”
“It makes you change the way you think about aspects of farming – in a good way! It is changing the way of thinking about how farming is meant to be.”

The importance of Catchment Groups - Edwin Mabonga

The Mid-Aparima catchment group also works with five other catchment groups in the area, ensuring the whole of the Aparima River catchment is covered. This collective means positive changes in each part of the catchment can combine to make a bigger difference overall.
“It is imperative that we all work together – we are all working towards the same goal. It is no use the upper catchments doing their part, if the lower are not and vice versa. This way, we really can make a positive change.”
More than 17 years ago, Edwin and his family relocated to New Zealand from Zimbabwe, bringing with him his skills as a farmer. The lush countryside in Southland helped him to choose his new home, and that love of the land is still strong.
Throughout the past few years, Edwin has undertaken action on his own farm, doing what he can, when he can – with it all adding up to a substantial effort.
“I have completed more than three kilometres of riparian planting and creating shelter belts on my farm. Any time I can do a little more, I do – it all adds up.”

The importance of Catchment Groups - Edwin Mabonga

“As a farmer, this environmental work is just part of what we should want to do. I want to be part of the change that I want to see. I love farming and I love the environment and I want to be doing something to make a difference. For me, that is my work with the catchment group and the work I am doing on my own farm. Every bit makes a difference.”

Photography credit: Edwin Mabonga

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