National President

1 20231209 122357 v2

Craig Benbow National President
Malvern Branch

Elected 2020.


Conference 2024 is nearly here and every period in the lead up to conference is hectic for the organisers, NZDA staff and the board. I often marvel at just what it takes to complete all the tasks for conference and while that is beyond significant there is all the business as usual stuff, reporting and advocacy work to complete as well. I know I am extremely grateful every year for the above and beyond efforts that go into preparing for conference and this year with a massive raffle and a hunting expo going off as well you can only describe it as epic! A huge thanks to all for the efforts and I hope there are not too many sleepless nights in pulling this one off. I am looking forward to being with you all and getting to see what has all been put in place. 


As mentioned, advocacy continues and I just want to remind everyone, and perhaps prepare you all, for the rapid increase in written contributions needed from you. The long overdue review of the Arms Act. is going to kick off and review of the Firearms registry as well, be ready to share your thoughts! Some of you have just presented submissions to Justice with regard to Part 6 of the Arms Act. Thank you for investing in that opportunity. Most of us had serious concerns about the ongoing stresses Part 6 placed on small clubs and NZDA branches and hopefully now those concerns will be addressed quickly. There may be some question as to why this wasn’t a widely publicised consultation but it was a targeted consultation to gather a representative sample rather than a comprehensive process. 

Review of the Arms Act. is imminent and I want to spend my words here, strongly, and I mean strongly, encouraging each and every NZDA member to not only fully inform yourself but to actively participate in this process and reach out to the others in our firearm using community. Do whatever you can to get them to also engage and provide the level of response that is needed to guide this review appropriately from a licensed firearms owners perspective and to also gather in the views of all who want access to firearms for sport, work or purely leisure into the future. The ease of that use and the safety of you, your family and the community hinges on how this law is constructed at the end of this process. The Act is comprehensive and will take quite a bit of work to review. It may take quite some time to get it through the process but I have confidence in the government to get this work done as promised and we will hold them to those promises. 

As law abiding citizens that have the right to participate in activities that are of no harm to others you must be heard and given the opportunity to guide how firearm use in this country is controlled and allowed for. 

I already have a load of gear and trophies to take north, it won’t be long. 

See you at Hutt Valley on the 12th. 

Vice President

19 20231209 122905

Callum Sheridan Vice President
Auckland Branch

Elected 2022. Previously North Island rep 2020-2022. 

The year seems to be flying by as we near the mid point of 2024, the NZDA has a heap of positive initiatives in the works.  

Douglas Score 

My work streams include Chairing the Douglas score subcommittee and advancement of the DS system within the NZDA, this is all ticking along nicely and progress is evident at each meeting we have. The second ever National goat comp is being planned to kick off in the beginning of August again, being the NZDA rep for the inaugural comp last year showed me the potential the competition has for the NZDA as well as sector collaboration, this year I have brought a number of board members along for the ride who are all assisting in various parts of the organisation and relationship building leading up to this years competition, which is shaping up to be another success. 

Spiker Tracking Project 

I am pleased to learn the first NZDA Sika spiker “3 bags full Deer’ has been caught for the Sika foundations collaring research program, the first update after being caught in the open is he has hunkered down in thick scrub for a week, I don’t blame him! I am glad to have initially joined the dots between the sika foundation and NZDA at the 2023 sika show to allow the NZDA to contribute to this initiative from our research fund, and a big thankyou to Richard wells for driving this forward on behalf of the NZDA. 

War on Wapiti 

With the war on Wapiti simmering down we must stay vigilant, most would have seen the recent media release from NZDA regarding the advertising standards complaint made against forest and bird, as New Zealand’s leading hunting and conservation lobby group I believe it is our job to hold the sector accountable and call out falsity, Positive progress in our sector will only come from upfront sensible collaboration. The ball is in forest and birds court to act accordingly on this one. 

Woodhill Fallow Management 

Last weekend saw the signs go out for the hunting blocks in Woodhill forest, a huge effort by the WFMC to get hundreds of signs in the ground to mark block and no hunting boundaries. The first hunting will take place on kings birthday weekend with Iwi (land owner allocated blocks) and hunter training allocated blocks from local NZDA branches. The WFMC is in a strong place with a strengthened committee of passionate individuals as well as fostering a great relationship between the committee and Iwi. The WFMC has altered the permit to allow all hunters to take a doe and the primary permit holder a choice of a Buck or a Doe on the day, supplementary Buck or Doe permits can be issued on application. Modern game animal management principles pointed towards this being a positive move along with new buck criteria which can be found in the hunter information issued with successful hunters permits, If you were lucky enough to draw a block this season please do not hesitate to reach out for a couple of tips on your specific block. 

Conference 2024 

Lastly but not least we are heading into an NZDA conference on the 12th 13th and 14th of July, Hosted by Hutt Valley Branch. Hosting a conference is not an easy task, hats off to the Hutt Valley team and our national office staff for pulling it all together. I’m excited to see the trade show and the lucky winner of the brand-new Hilux which is up for grabs by way of raffle. To delegates and branch committees be sure to check out the handbook and get your head around the conference operating procedures, NoM’s, Remits and officer nominations. The NZDA is at a crucial turning point. Do we want to be the 1 Million dollar hunting club plodding away or do we want to be a multimillion dollar hard hitting hunting and conservation advocacy group?. To protect our sport recreation and enhance Nz’s Biodiversity I believe the latter is the best option. 

I wish you all safe and happy hunting and look forward to seeing you at conference 2024. 

South Island Rep

7 20231209 122610

Richard Wells South Island Rep
Nelson Branch

Elected 2022.

My theme for June is science – citizen and formal research 

Report Concerns  

Recently I have received calls from people expressing concern about things they have seen, or indeed have not seen! 

A common example is after a 1080 programme with subsequent lack of deer sightings in the area but no bodies. Some recent concerns raised had little background information (as passed on second hand as these things often are) such as date, exact place (important as this particular case was where repellent had been used for part of the drop), and how many people witnessed what was, or was not seen. 

Another classic is reports of gut bags in areas there shouldn’t be, and while described, no photo and position make it impossible to verify. Most of us hunt now with a GPS and camera, often combined in a phone – use it!  

If you see something out of whack, such dead animals – game or other - or offal etc always take pictures and plot the location, preferably with a geotag on the image.

That way we have a thing/time/place piece of evidence to start a conversation with relevant persons. Note a lack of animals over a short time frame is hard to describe as evidence…it’s more a concern. 

Game Animal Management & Sika Foundation at Conference 

At conference this year two of our biggest projects are on show with Pete Caldwell presenting his final report on Game Animal Management in the Rakaia catchment and the Sika folks will be down and have information on the very early stages of their tracking study with “our three” young stags being on screen (suitably managed to avoid providing exact current location as we want these spikers to last!). 

Research Fund 

We still have a significant research fund balance so please get in touch or talk to me at Conference about any idea for game animal management research that has taken your fancy. I can support you in putting together a proposal. 

Pete Caldwell and best friend in the upper Rangitata. We are lucky to have an environmental scientist who is an avid hunter, member, and conservationist at heart, doing research for us.