National President

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Craig Benbow National President
Malvern Branch

Elected 2020.

A good run of frost's has been a feature of this month but the hunting activities going on seems to be red hot and unabated. What a wonderful situation we find ourselves in with opportunities for anyone willing to put in the time and energy. I was hoping to do a bit more myself but hasn't happened yet!

Conference and Expo 2024

Preparation for our annual conference is well underway and my thanks to all that are working hard to make this a truly outstanding event, expanding into an Expo to draw in the public and other hunters to let them interact with both NZDA and all of the core organisations and their people working alongside one another as part of the hunting, shooting and conservation ecosystem across New Zealand.

Hunting Access

On Thursday myself, Richard and Gwyn met with Hunting and Fishing Minister Todd McClay. While focused primarily on access issues we were able to freely converse on other matters of concern and will continue to work with both the Ministers office and DOC to both seek solutions and provide them where able. We are very grateful for the additional time Todd was able to give us and appreciated the open and free dialog.

Herenga A Nuku

Following up on an invitation from earlier in the year I addressed Herenga A Nuku ( Outdoor Access Commission) Regional Field Advisors at their meeting in Wellington last Thursday. I also introduced Richard Wells to them as the National Access Lead. The presentation was to inform and deepen the relationships we have with all of the Herenga A Nuku staff and it was a very good exchange of situations and both Richard and I came away with a lot more contacts and ideas.

Federated Farmers

Squeezed in between both meetings I spent some time with Richard McIntyre of Federated Farmers and I am sure we will speak more as time goes on. They have a lot on their plate like us and our common goals and concerns were good topics of discussion. It was a busy day for Richard also and I appreciated his time.

NZDA Heritage Trust

A quick shout out to the Heritage Trust volunteers and everyone contributing toward the completion of the National Museum. The cabinets and displays are going to be outstanding once completed but they do need more financial contributions so if you or your branch can assist please get in touch. It really will be a national treasure when completed.

Vice President

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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

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Richard Wells South Island Rep
Nelson Branch

Elected 2022.

I’m on something of a streak in terms of hunting opportunities and results – good weather, companions, and wins in various ballots so early May saw us return to Molesworth for a meat hunt, which turned into a trophy hunt.


Full of cultural and historic heritage, landscapes, habitats and opportunities. This is a “gem in the crown” for backcountry recreational activities in the South Island with hunting a key attribute; but many other leisure activities occur there too. And its big….I mean really big - 1,800 square kilometres, 440,000 acres, i.e. slightly larger than Rakiura/Stewart Island!

Molesworth is a Recreation Reserve….. and so, what is a Recreation Reserve? Here is the opening statement in the Reserves Act (of course it’s more complicated than that in detail but…..) with my emphasis:

17 Recreation reserves

(1) It is hereby declared that the appropriate provisions of this Act shall have effect, in relation to reserves classified as recreation reserves, for the purpose of providing areas for the recreation and sporting activities and the physical welfare and enjoyment of the public, and for the protection of the natural environment and beauty of the countryside, with emphasis on the retention of open spaces and on outdoor recreational activities, including recreational tracks in the countryside.

Over the past few years, lead-up information gathering surveys and hui have been held to inform the Molesworth Management Plan drafting. The now looming draft Plan will be the key opportunity to have our say and codify the future of the area. We will need to be there “with bells on” at submission time to ensure the principles and intent of clause 17 are upheld for all!

Molesworth – land of plenty, for all to enjoy, and we certainly did in May this year.

Nelson Lakes National Park

This month Nelson and Marlborough branches collaborated with regional DOC to organise a management hunt in Nelson Lakes National Park. This meant a focus on red hinds, and any goats and pigs sighted with helicopter access allowed to achieve this. Early feedback is very positive (while the data collected is yet to be collated and reported) with everybody returning safe and sound, plenty of animals harvested, hundreds of kilos of meat flown out and happy hunters. There will be more news on this event, hopefully a feature story in Hunting and Wildlife – at first glimpse it deserves it.

Nelson Lakes National Park Management Hunt – flying into the designated management area.