Press Releases




New Zealand, Tuesday 24 March 2020

Hunters should do the right thing, stay at home

New Zealand Deerstalkers Association and The Game Animal Council (GAC) are urging all hunters to do the right thing and stay at home while New Zealand is at COVID-19 Alert Level Four. 

NZDA President Trevor Chappell says that while he is incredibly disappointed, staying home is the right thing to do. 

“It is heart-breaking as a hunter to be stuck at home during the roar, but as hunters we also have our part to play to beat COVID-19,” Chappell says. “The better we all comply with the restrictions the sooner we will get this virus under control and we can go hunting again.” 

“It is also really important that we help each other out during this difficult time. So much about hunting is doing it with your family and your mates, so make sure you keep in touch with each other and perhaps spend the time planning that next epic trip you will do together.” 

NZDA and The Game Animal Council will communicate to the sector any changes to this situation. 

“Being at Level Four means that unfortunately hunters should not be heading away to go into the hills,” says Game Animal Council General Manager Tim Gale. 

“The guidance we have is that at Alert Level 4 it is strongly recommended that hunters do not head into the backcountry or undertake activities that expose them and others to higher levels of risk. We are also advised that DOC huts and campsites are closed and not available for use as they do not meet minimum separation requirements.” 

“Normal search and rescue operations will also not be running and it is important we reduce all unnecessary strain on our emergency services at this critical time.

Please keep up-to-date with all the most recent guidance around COVID-19 at Further information from DOC around huts and campsites is available at 


NZDA National Executive





New Zealand, Tuesday 20 November 2019  - The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association is demanding answers over the scheduling of 1080 poisoning operations during the current breeding season, saying newborn fawns are threatened with starvation if the poison drops go ahead.

The NZDA, which is the country’s leading hunting organisation, says it has become aware of a number of applications from both OSPRI and the Department of Conservation to start poisoning large areas during the run-up to Christmas.

A 1080 drop is scheduled to begin tomorrow in the Kahurangi area in the north west South Island, while it is understood another operation is due to begin soon in the Landsborough area on the West Coast.

The NZDA is condemning the planned poisoning.

The NZDA’s national president Trevor Chappell says the timing is unacceptable. “These drops coincide with late spring when deer are giving birth to their fawns and that means not only are the mothers at risk of dying a painful death if they eat the 1080, the orphaned fawns will be left to starve to death,” says Mr Chappell.

“This is just not on.  This is a major animal welfare issue for deer and if these government organisations want to be seen as humane, they should not be conducting mass poisoning campaigns at this time of year.”

The Deerstalkers Association is asking DoC and OSPRI to explain their thinking.

“In previous years, mass poisoning operations have finished by this time.  Even the tahr cull was halted from November to prevent orphaned kids starving to death in the mountains,” Trevor Chappell says.

“We hoped these organisations had learned their lesson from the public backlash over the 2017 mass poisoning of deer in Molesworth but it appears that despite their promises to prevent such indiscriminate killing happening again, they are continuing their unacceptable policies.”



Hannah Delaney | | +64 27 636 0010

Rachel Prendergast | | +64 29 775 1105

 23 October 2019

Arms Legislation Submission

Today the NZDA made an oral presentation at the select committee hearing on the second arms amendment bill.

19 September 2018                                     

Himalayan tahr culls an overreaction

DOC’s proposal to kill 17,500 Himalayan tahr over the next 10 months is rushed, based on slender evidence, and could spell the demise of a unique and valuable trophy herd, says NZ Deerstalkers’ Association spokesman Bill O’Leary.

“The numbers they want to start killing within the next fortnight have been set without a proper assessment of the situation, and there is no attempt to leave the most valuable animals – the bull tahr that can take 8 years to reach their trophy potential. More time needs to be spent setting terms and conditions for the cull rather than just rushing in and killing everything on sight without considering the consequences.”

DOC’s population estimate of 35,600 animals was largely based on controversial methods of assessing the numbers by pellet counts, he said. “There is no general agreement among game animal scientists as to the accuracy of this method, and DOC itself admits that its estimate has a margin of error of up to 9,000,” he said. “We acknowledge that tahr numbers are above the level set in the 1993 Thar Plan, and some carefully planned, highly selective culling needs to be done – but better data and more detailed planning are needed rather than killing so many tahr with undue haste.”

A herd of 10,000 tahr left after unselective culling would not be able to provide a sustainable harvest of trophies, he said. “At that level there would be about 5,000 male tahr left, of which only a fraction would be mature animals. To put that in perspective, at present hunting guides alone take about 1,500 trophy bulls per year and private shooters take at least as many again, while more are killed by helicopter hunters too. This adds up to over 3,000 a year – well over half of the available males including young as well as mature animals. At that rate the trophy value of the herd would vanish within a couple of years.

“There is nothing in the DOC proposal to enthuse me,” said Mr O’Leary



For further information and interviews contact Bill O’Leary, 027 430 5008 

26 July 2018


All New Zealanders should have free access to  publicly owned land,  says a spokesman for the New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association, Bill O’Leary.

Owing to a missed opportunity during the OIO process, public access to conservation land in the Hunter Valley remains as only by grace and favour of the managers of the Hunter Station. This should never have happened and needs to be set right.

The proposal to retrospectively provide an easement across nearly 40 kilometres of pastoral lease would be supported by many recreationalists including trampers, climbers, hunters and fishers.

“However, NZDA  recognises that the vehicle track would requires some upgrading and ongoing maintenance and believe this should not be a charge on the station owner. The fact that he is a foreigner is irrelevant to this case, it’s just a matter of setting the matter of free access that was intended at the start but somehow overlooked. So public money should pay for improved access, including any realignment of the track to preserve the manager’s privacy,” said Mr O’Leary.

He added that one proposal to manage an increase in vehicle traffic on the track was for the Department of Conservation to operate a booking system. “This is common on other tracks around the country and recreationalists would put up with the minor inconvenience.”

 For further information contact Bill O’Leary 027 430 5008


Police gearing up for new firearms safety training for first time licence applicants

From 1 July firearms safety training is changing.

Police has been working with the firearms community to improve safety outcomes by delivering an enhanced firearms safety training programme for first-time firearms licence applicants.

“Much like the process for obtaining a driver licence, first-time applicants will need to pass a theory test and undergo practical training to obtain a firearms licence,” says Acting Superintendent Mike McIlraith.

“For many years the current theory-only programme has provided new firearms users with a solid start. But over recent years Police and the firearms community identified the opportunity to build on this and provide first-time applicants with a practical hands-on component to complement the theoretical.”

The theory test is a computer-based multi-choice test which will be delivered by Police using the same system used for computerised driver licence theory tests. Firearm licence applicants will be able to sit the firearms theory test at all Automobile Association (AA) driver licensing outlets; including all AA Centres, AA Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agents and the AA’s Rural Mobile Units, as well as all Vehicle Testing New Zealand branches that offer driver licensing throughout the country.

Applicants must pass the theory test before they can attend the firearms practical training course.

The practical course and training on safe-handling of firearms will be delivered by firearms instructors from the Mountain Safety Council across the country.

Police is also working with Fire and Emergency New Zealand around the potential use of volunteer fire stations in some locations. In addition, the Whakatupato course will continue to provide firearms safety training in remote and isolated communities. 

The firearms theory test and practical training require applicants to show that they have a strong understanding of the Arms Code and how to stay safe with firearms.

“As pleased as Police is to deliver the new firearms safety programme, new firearms users will still need to gain experience using firearms safely in a variety of settings.

“Tapping into clubs with experienced firearms users who can pass on that valuable knowledge and experience is a vital part of being a responsible firearms user.

“We want the firearms community to continue to support new firearms users. Police is seeking help from firearms clubs, and the volunteer instructors from the programme ending 30 June, to provide community-based mentoring and to partner with new firearms users.

“Imagine a person getting their firearms licence because they want to go hunting but they don’t know any hunters. Clubs play a vital role in bringing new firearms users together with experienced users.

“Having a new practical component and a community of people keen to coach and mentor new firearms users will contribute significantly to improved safety outcomes. And that is what Police wants.”




Mike McIlraith

Officer in Charge
Arms Act Service Delivery Group


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Firearms Safety Programme


The Roar 2018

Hunters should stick to the basics and “be safe”

                                                                 Wapiti Closure Details 

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