Our Mission

Ellesmere Sustainable Agriculture provides grassroots connection and representation, promotes innovation and environmental responsibility, maintains great relationships with regulators and stakeholders, informs and tests policy to create a momentum for change.

Member benefits

  • Understanding environmental regulations and how they might apply to your farm.
  • Setting up a stream-care group for your local waterway or small catchment and providing help to access funding and resources.
  • Designing and funding for riparian planting and wetland restoration projects.
  • Providing evidence you are meeting  FEP mahinga kai auditing requirements.
  • Providing Technical Experts who will run topic-specific workshops identified by you or small groups of farmers.
  • One-on-one help for farmers struggling to meet new environmental requirements.
  • Covering your back through advocacy, submissions and practical resource management advice.

Our People


Ellesmere farming has a rich history.

Farmers are often inter-generational and fiercely protective and proud of the land they work on.

A group of Ellesmere farmers joined forces in the 1990s in response to the increasing compliance and consenting regulations around farming.

In 1999, the Southbridge Water Users Group was established to advocate on behalf of Ellesmere farmers around irrigation issues.

As the number and type of farmer members grew, the organisation evolved and in 2014 was renamed Ellesmere Sustainable Agriculture to reflect the wide variety of issues farmers were facing, beyond irrigation challenges.

  • 1950s

    First irrigation systems introduced on family farming operations.

  • 1960-90

    Well-drilling via bore consents. Progression to self-propelled and travelling irrigators


  • 1998

    Renewal of groundwater consents proving minimal connection to lowland streams.

  • 1999

    Southbridge Water User Group (SWUG) established.


  • 2001

    First joint lowland stream restoration projects

  • 2009

    SWUG becomes Ellesmere Irrigation Society Inc


  • 2010

    EISI appeals consent decision with Environment Court.

  • 2014

    EISI becomes Ellesmere Sustainable Agriculture in recognition of interest beyond irrigation.


  • 2015-2019

    Focus on positive farming outcomes and restoration programmes

  • 2020

    ESAI receives 3 years of funding to start Project Tinaku


  • 2021

    ESAI receives additional funding to establish the Extension Project

  • 2022

    End of 2022. First 2 years of the Tinaku Project completed.

    42 restoration projects have been completed with a total of 40,000 native plants.

    17 workshops and events have been held and attended by over 400 people.


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