In May 1938 130 deerstalkers met in Invercargill for the official formation of the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association. Little could they have realised the crucial role this organisation was to play during the next 75 years in fighting for the very survival of New Zealand’s big game herds.
Ever since 1930 the big game animals of New Zealand have been classed as pests. Extermination was the bottom line of government policy. In turn deer culling, the use of aerial 1080 poison and commercial hunting, often from helicopters to ensure wholesale slaughter, were promoted by public authorities as ways of killing off these animals.
Cliff Marshall packs out his trophies from a successful hunt, 1956. (Norman Douglas)
The New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association has been involved in campaigns to save the wapiti herd of Fiordland, the rusa deer of the Ureweras, the sambar of the Manawatu, and the thar of South Canterbury. Only through arduous research in the field and intense political lobbying has the NZDA been able to achieve these campaigns.
The switch in recent years from an extermination policy to big-game management and the creation of recreational hunting areas, and the formation of the Game Animal Council are due in a large part to the work of NZDA members.
Wellington and South Canterbury branch members at Thar Lodge, Mt Cook, during a snowstorm, May 1959. (R.P. Baigent)
The NZDA has always promoted conservation of New Zealand’s native flora and fauna, and the conservation of New Zealand’s unique environment as central to our sport and to the New Zealand way of life. The NZDA has made important contributions to hunting at the personal as well as at the policy-making level. The NZDA has always been steadfast on the importance of ethics to hunting, raising the individual standards of hunters, fostering a a sense of true sportsmanship – comradeship, respect for the quarry and a love of the outdoors of New Zealand.