19 January 2024

Words By: Sam Ashby

Photographs By: Michael Ng and Jess Halliday

2023 was the year I was fortunate enough to draw my first ever ballot in Fiordland, the Lower Glaisnock of all blocks! After meeting a couple of Fiordland Wapiti Foundation members at one of our club nights last year, then spending 10 days in Fiordland this year I was impressed at how much the volunteer work had done for the place. We had native birds around us the whole time, including Whio and Miromiro along the track edges and Kiwi coming up to our tents at night.

Once back home I called Roy Sloan and said I would love to be able to contribute to the foundation, but being all the way up in Auckland the only thing I could offer was a monetary donation. His reply was “you’re a builder, why don’t you build us some trap boxes?” From there I had a chat with Ben Frame who had recently been appointed Conservation Convenor about doing the boxes as a club run event. He told me to chat to our club president Cam about freight options and getting the completed boxes down to Te Anau. He agreed to ship as many boxes as we could make.


I took this as a challenge to fill as much of the truck as Cam had offered, and we figured we could get approximately 100 boxes sorted. From there, I took it to my local timber merchant ITM Albany to ask for some form of sponsorship. As it turned out, the General Manager is into hiking and had just walked the Milford Track and seen the predator trap boxes spread out along the track. He agreed initially to sponsor half of the timber required for the project, but with a little extra persuasion said he would cover the whole lot.

My construction company covered nails, screws, paint and some extra timber required and my team at work picked up the slack while I organised the project and ran around picking up materials. A few phone calls later in the engineering world and Ben had stencils sorted to cover the boxes in our sponsors and the club’s name.

We ran the event as a workshop and had some eager volunteers turn up to my place. The weather threw us an absolute mixed bag, but we set up an awning and worked in my shed. I was seriously impressed at the level of construction skills shown by the team, especially given there were only two of us who were actually builders. We had a lunch consisting of venison sausages and I had saved a Wapiti backstrap for the devoted team. A few liquid refreshments were had to celebrate the end of a long but highly successful workshop.

A special thanks to the volunteers who turned up on the day: Craig, Jimmy, Satish, Mike M, Mike Ng, Jess, Rodney, and Natalia. Also a huge thanks to Cam for freighting the boxes free of charge on behalf of the club and Callum for supplying the trailer and pop-up gazebo. And a huge shout out to Ben for not only turning up and smashing out the event but also helping to run a lot of the background organising and ringing in favours, no matter how many times he had to ask!

I look forward to many more projects of this caliber in the future!

Join NZDA To Help Us Advocate on Your Behalf