Media Release: National's Commitment to Hunting and Fishing a Big Step Forward

National's commitment to hunting and fishing a big step forward

Media Release

24 July 2023

 National's commitment to hunting and fishing a big step forward

The National Party’s Plan for Hunting and Fishing, which was announced at the New Zealand Deerstalker’s Association Conference over the weekend, is a major step forward for the rights of hunters and the management of game animals in New Zealand, says NZDA Chief Executive Gwyn Thurlow.

 “Hunting and fishing are not merely pastimes,” Gwyn says. “They represent integral components of our nation's cultural heritage.”

 “Hundreds-of-thousands of Kiwis have grown up cherishing their right to hunt and fish, and through responsible participation, they not only forge a lifelong bond with the environment, but also actively contribute to the conservation of our native species.”

 “National's proposal to establish a dedicated Minister for Hunting and Fishing demonstrates the party’s understanding of the profound impact that these activities have on our society. This dedicated role will serve as a strong representative for hunters and fishers and ensure the sector’s voice will be heard at the Cabinet table.”

NZDA is pleased to see National's commitment to formally classifying deer tahr, chamois and wild pigs as game animals.

“The Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020 has determined these are valued introduced species alongside others such as trout and salmon. Unfortunately, there is a high degree of inconsistency across legislation and planning documents, which not only disregards the value of these animals to New Zealanders, but hinders their management,” Gwyn says. 

“National’s approach rightly recognises that hunters are the key to the future management of these animals and sets the stage for a more harmonious coexistence between conservation, commercial, mahinga kai and recreational activities.”

The NZDA welcomes proposals to strengthen the Game Animal Council and provide for the designation of 'herds of special interest' (HOSI).

“Strengthening the GAC and designating HOSI aligns closely with NZDA's mission to promote sustainable hunting opportunities,” Gwyn says.

“Empowering hunters to actively participate in hunter-led management is a key component of modern, progressive game animal management, and where it is already happening, is making a tangible difference in preserving biodiversity.”

“The efforts put in by hunters in managing game animal numbers and eradicating pest species, such as goats, rats and stoats, are critical to improving environmental outcomes and ensuring our native flora and fauna thrive.”

"Hunters are true conservation volunteers, with hunting organisations dedicating thousands of hours to conservation programmes on top of the role they play in game animal management through recreational hunting.”

Guaranteeing free and enduring access to public lands for hunting and fishing is of paramount importance to NZDA.

“Such unrestricted access is what Kiwis have enjoyed for generations and it fosters a strong sense of connection with the outdoors and enables responsible recreation,” Gwyn says. “National's commitment to preserving these opportunities will undoubtedly reinforce the bond between Kiwis and their natural environment.”

Establishing Huts of Recreational Importance is another important commitment.

“Our backcountry huts serve as more than mere shelters for hunter, fishers and trampers - they embody our outdoor heritage and make access to our backcountry possible for many hundreds-of-thousands of New Zealanders,” Gwyn says.

NZDA is one of the founders of the Backcountry Trust and many projects are carried out by NZDA branches and volunteers.

“National's vision to collaborate with volunteer groups and DOC demonstrates their dedication to fostering a sense of community and supporting that community to preserve its precious backcountry assets.”

NZDA also commends National's steadfast support for Fish & Game New Zealand.

“Fish & Game is an essential organisation dedicated to protecting trout and salmon fishing for future generations. Many NZDA members are also fishers, and value these introduced species. Preserving the health of our aquatic ecosystems is a responsibility we all share and National's commitment in this regard reflects their understanding of the delicate balance between recreational fishing and conservation.”

“National’s policy, if implemented, can go a long way to preserving our hunting and fishing heritage, while helping to manage game animal numbers and safeguard the future of our native species,” says Gwyn. “This would leave a lasting legacy for generations to come.”


For media enquiries and further information, please contact:

Gwyn Thurlow

Chief Executive Officer, New Zealand Deerstalkers Association



About New Zealand Deerstalkers Association Inc (NZDA):

The New Zealand Deerstalkers Association is the national body representing recreational hunters, aiming to protect, advance, and advocate for the rights of hunters and shooting enthusiasts in New Zealand. We are committed to promoting safe and ethical hunting practices, educating hunters, promoting native flora and fauna, and ensuring access to outdoor recreational opportunities for all New Zealanders.

To learn more about NZDA, please visit

About Game Animals: 

Game animals are deer, tahr, chamois and wild pigs as defined in the Game Animal Council Act. These have also been classified as valued introduced species in Te Mana o te Taiao – Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020, which states that, reaching a balance to ensure that valued introduced species continue to provide the benefits they are valued for, while also ensuring that indigenous biodiversity thrives, is a key challenge for Aotearoa New Zealand.

View National's Plan for Hunting and Fishing and View Hon Todd McClay's Media Statement

National's plan for Hunting & Fishing:

National Party Statement - Hon Todd McClay: