Department of Conservation,
P. O. Box 191, Masterton.
Issue 2, March 2003.
update: autumn 2003
Welcome to the second Wairarapa Hunting Update: autumn
2003. The purpose of this newsletter is to provide information
for recreational hunters in the Tararua, Rimutaka and Aorangi
Why the Helicopter hunting in the Tararua Forest Park came to a sudden stop in late
November 2002 and it remains unclear as to when it is likely to resume.
choppers All aerial hunting on land managed by DOC is controlled as a commercial activity
aren’t flying with private operators applying for concessions to hunt within specified areas
and times. Helicopter operators sell wild venison to game buyers who provide
game meats to national and international markets.
So why aren’t the choppers flying? Quite simply, market reduction and concerns
regarding the processing of game meat in New Zealand mean the game buyers
The European BSE (mad cow) epidemic that effectively limited
domestic production and consumption of beef in those countries
and improved the price of New Zealand wild venison from
approximately $3.50 to $6.00 per kilo on the hook appears to be
over. The resurgence of European product coupled with existing
stockpiles of NZ game meat overseas means that our largest game
market has fallen away and demand and prices are down.
Closer to home, the much publicised sale of venison illegally taken
from an area recently treated with 1080 in Te Urewera National
Park stopped the sale and export of all venison. Gaps and risks in
the processes that regulate the commercial recovery and processing
of game animals in New Zealand were identified as a result. While
no 1080 residue was found in the carcasses, the potential threat to
both the domestic and wild venison industry has lead to a review
of compliance and quality processes and standards by MAF.
With venison prices down and the potential for higher compliance
costs for operators and buyers in a restructured wild game recovery
If you want more information about any of the matters discussed in this industry, uncertainty abounds. Game buyer Steve Edwards of the
newsletter, please contact: Pohangina based Egmont Venison says “the short to medium future
Department of Conservation, is not looking flash and I can’t see much change until mid Winter
Masterton Area Office at the earliest.” Meanwhile, with the cost of flying helicopters
P.O. Box 191 sitting at around $800 per hour, it is clear that the market will
Masterton ultimately decide when the choppers should return.
Ph: 06-377 0700
So, what does this mean for private hunters? DOC who? Changes at Wairarapa Area Office include the appointment of new Biodiversity
Programme Manager Phil Brady. Phil takes over from Aalbert Rebergen who
In the short term, there are deer out there that are not being shot by commercial
has joined the Otago Regional Council as an ecologist. Phil is a Masterton local
operators. The other obvious point is that animals on open tops and slips will be
who has been working with DOC in Wellington for the past 14 years.
less disturbed by helicopter activity.
New Community Relations Programme Manager Sally Thomas has taken over
Concessions to hunt commercially on land managed by DOC are applied for on a
from Mike Grace. Sally comes from a human resources/marketing background.
North Island/South Island split that authorises some 30 operators to shoot in
Programme Manager Recreation, Mark Townsend is transferring to DOC
designated areas in the Tararua Forest Park. In practice, there are only five active
Motueka as their Programme Manager, Recreation this April. Mark has worked for
operators who account for approximately 400 deer annually. Operators say that
DOC for a total of 8 years with 3 years in the Catlins and has been responsible
they take half of the deer from slips, clearings and riverbeds and the remainder
for hut upgrades and construction including overseeing the construction of the
from the leatherwood and tussock of the open tops.
new Powell and Totara Flats huts.
Amalgamated Helicopter pilot, Jason Diedrichs, says that hunting on the Tararua
Programme Manager Captive Breeding, Karen Barlow, based at Mount Bruce for
tops is often under valued by private shooters. “There are big areas we
the past 5 years, has decided to pursue a career in teaching. Karen was integral
(commercial operators) don’t hunt, particularly along the front range where there
to the success of the species recovery programme at Mount Bruce and her work
are good numbers of deer out in the open. Early morning and that last hour
with shore plover and Campbell Island teal, in particular, was internationally
before dark, they just stand up in the tussock. Even in the areas we are allowed
to hunt, on the main range, it is amazing how many deer we fly past or just don’t
Phil Janssen of Te Onepu Helicopters agrees. “The Ruahine and Tararua tops can The way it
offer great Summer shooting. The constant wind has always restricted helicopter
hunting on the tops and private hunters can do very well up there”.
Wairarapa Come spring/autumn, Wairarapa NZDA members continue to hunt extensively
throughout New Zealand. Following on from a successful branch trip to Stewart
Deerstalkers Island where a fine buck was taken by Wayne Finlayson on the Pegasus Block,
Update two members travelled South for a thar hunt (before they are all removed). Both
by Steve Ticehurst NZDA guys took bulls over the 12 inch mark. Other trips for Sika and Fallow have also
Some members are enjoying good numbers of pigs
about, all in good order. With better access, I am sure
more guys would chase pigs. A combined trip with the
Bush NZDA found a group of juniors out on a goat hunt.
They all received an excellent foundation for the
outdoor environment; all making kills and some tidy
heads taken. It was a pity we needed to travel well
outside the Wairarapa, perhaps DOC can assist here.
Local association member Murray Clarke has taken a fine
red stag in the Aorangi Forest Park. Although shot in the
velvet, stripping proved it to be hard to the tips.
Most members are enjoying the normal spring/summer
Where it all begins: NZDA juniors, movement of deer with some easy animals out there for those who look. It’s good
Brent Roper, Matt Johnson and to see the NZDA boys participating in search and rescue with such enthusiasm.
Photo:Wairarapa NZDA. Their bush skills are what’s required for successful work.
The branch continues with maintenance on Sayers Hut and Ngapotiki Lodge. The
clubrooms at Parkvale, Carterton also continue to improve as work develops into
further stages. We are still seeking Wairarapa stag heads for display. We hope to
have an open day before winter. Clockwise from above:Toby Smith, Pararaki, 1924(photo: Bill Busch coll.);
With the Roar not far off, some guys are already checking their hotspots. Athol Geddes in the old Washpool tent camp,Aorangi Forest Park, 1961;
Derrick Field, Mangatoetoe, 1966; D. Ramsay, Pinnacles, 1982;A.J.A.
Should you have any queries regarding the Wairarapa NZDA call Steve Ticehurst, White’s trophy, Bull Hill, 1945. Centre: Ricky Spooner, Home (Whawanui)
ph (06) 379 7249. River, 1980 (photos: Joe Hansen coll.).
2 Wairarapa hunting update: autumn 2003 Wairarapa hunting update: autumn 2003 7
Pesticides The following DOC-controlled areas have received an application of 1080 cereal February– Despite the positive spin being placed on tops shooting (see page 2), the long
bait for the control of possums. Signs are in place at Park entrances and in cold spring and sporadic summer heat seems to have slowed the movement of
summary huts and around boundaries advising of specific areas of application and
April hunting deer onto the tops this year. However, with summer drawing to a close and the
warning Park users not to take dogs or allow children to be unsupervised likelihood of more settled weather through February and March, there are good
within the application area until the necessary caution period has hunting opportunities throughout the Tararua and Aorangi forest parks.
expired. For a copy of the Pesticide Summary and other information contact Stags are in hard antler and feeding up for the Roar in April. Deer are to be found
DOC Wairarapa Area Office on (06) 377 0700. throughout the forest, particularly on north-facing areas. Looking for these feed
faces and cool gullies in hot weather is a good strategy for daytime bush stalking.
Northern Aorangi Forest Park Tops and slips can be very productive during the first and last hours of daylight.
Greater Wellington – The Regional Council is currently completing a 1080
operation in this area for the purpose of possum control as part of their Bovine In the hills…. Hut maintenance
TB programme. The operation was carried out on 10 February 2003 and a caution
period will remain in place until 1 September 2003.
Mid Waiohine, Upper Tauherenikau, Tararua Forest Park
1080 cereal bait was applied by the Department of Conservation in August 2002
for the purpose of possum control. A caution period will remain in place for this
area until 1 March 2003.
Then and now—a Tararua Classic:
Puketoi Stewardship Area Mid Waiohine Hut in 1962 (left)
and in 2003 after general
1080 cereal bait was applied in August 2002 by Horizons.MW as part of their maintenance and a new paint job.
Bovine TB programme. A caution period will remain in place until 1 March Photos: left, N. Fraser; right, Mark
Alpha, Mid Waiohine and Herepai have all had deferred maintenance completed
DOC hunting Waingawa goats got and a general tidy up including paint, rotten timber replaced, new toilet holes,
Co-operation between Kaituna landowners, private shooters and DOC has made benches, vents, piles and fireplaces as required. At Mid Waiohine, DOC sought
a big dent in a feral goat population in the Blake Stream–Mount Dagg area. to retain the character of the classic 6 bunk NZFS hut. Mid Waiohine is an
Originally brought in during the goat farming boom of the early 1980s, the goats increasingly popular spot for wilderness fishing trips.
have bred and are extending their range into the Mikimiki headwaters, Waingawa Kime, Field, Te Matawai and Waitewaewae huts will all have an exterior paint
Gorge/Mount Blake area. This is of particular concern as goats are believed to job between January and March.
have been eradicated from the Waingawa catchment in the 1970s. Masterton Tramping Club have painted Atiawhakatu hut inside and out and DOC
Carterton District Council has developed a policy to prohibit goat farming on plans to work with Wellington NZDA on Cattle Ridge hut when weather permits.
lands adjoining conservation land. Masterton and South Wairarapa District Next year Dundas, Carkeek and others are scheduled for maintenance.
Councils are currently investigating similar restrictions.
A combination of supporting landowners and hunting pressure from private and Tarn fridge no more...
DOC hunters has seen some 300 goats shot over the spring and summer in the Tarn Ridge hut is scheduled for work over February and March. The ceiling is to
Kaituna area. be lowered to solve the condensation problem, the insulation will be improved
and a new fireplace, toilet, benches and seating will be installed.
Mount Bruce/Pukaha update
The pest/predator control programme at Mount Bruce has to date accounted for: Totara Flats Hut underway
The new Totara Flats hut began construction in February. Contractor, B&L
Construction of Martinborough are expected to complete the new 26 bunk hut
NORWAY SHIP POSSUM STOAT STOAT STOAT STOAT MOUSE HEDGEHOG CAT WEASEL FERRET
RAT RAT MALE FEMALE UNSEXED TOTAL by the end of March. The new hut will be sited at the northern end of Totara
flats opposite the mouth of Totara Creek. It will replace the existing hut, which
19 857 542 15 12 14 41 110 193 43 9 27 is located on a site exposed to slips and flooding from Aeroplane Creek. Upon
completion of the new building, the current hut will be dismantled and
components offered to NZDA for their use at the historic Sayers hut.
It is hoped that monitoring will show when pests are reduced sufficiently to
allow the reintroduction of kokako and kiwi to the forest in the next few years.
6 Wairarapa hunting update: autumn 2003 Wairarapa hunting update: autumn 2003 3
Bridges back by April “Bert was a good neighbour and a great bush cook. If he ever caught me coming
past from mustering late he would drag me in and feed me one of his stews with
The Tauherenikau swing bridge and Cow Creek cableway destroyed in a big flood
camp oven bread. I often wondered what he made of me, a non-hunter from
last Winter are both to be replaced with suspension bridges by the end of April.
Wellington—he could be pretty tough on “townies” as he called them.
Palmerston North firm, Forest Hill Construction, has the contract and Masterton
One morning in April 1986, I was coming in from town with some groceries for
engineering firm, Loader Construction, are building the suspension towers which
Bert when I noticed a strange looking cow crossing the creek near the home
will be erected on the same sites as the previous bridges.
paddock. It was a young stag, a spiker, looking a bit lost. He wandered across
the track and disappeared around the corner. We didn’t see many deer around
Ruamahunga catchment track upgrade
there but as I’m no hunter and had never shot a deer, I didn’t think any more
The Ruamahunga catchment is the focus for track upgrades this year with the about it and went on up to Bert’s hut with the grub.
Putara–Herepai–Roaring Stag–Cattle Ridge track being re-cut. Additional funding We were sitting there having one of Bert’s “ever ready” brews when he looks
has been obtained which will enable the Dundas–Cattle Ridge track and also the out the window and says “there’s a bloody deer in my paddock!” I started to
Cow Creek track that follows the Ruamahunga River and Cleft Creek from State explain how I had seen it down the track but he immediately staggered to his
Highway 2 to be upgraded. feet and lurched off to his bunk room. There was a lot of crashing and banging
and Bert eventually emerged loading his old .303; the very same one with which
Tararua hut warden opportunity he had shot thousands of deer. “Go on and shoot it” he growled slamming the
Wairarapa Area office is promoting the Hut Warden programme in the Tararua magazine into the rifle. I started to say something about never having shot a deer
Forest Park. Hut Wardens keep busy huts free of rubbish and provide advice to before but he grabbed me by the shoulder, thrust the battered rifle into my hands
park users. Remuneration (apart from the satisfaction of keeping it all humming) and pushed me out the door.
is accommodation in the wardens’ quarters (where available), some food and an The spiker had continued his wanderings and was now out of sight. I got into
annual hut pass for those who commit to the programme. For further inquiries the Falcon station wagon, laid Bert’s rifle across the bench seat and somewhat
contact DOC Wairarapa Area Office on (06) 377 0700. uncertainly began my first deer hunt. As it happened, he hadn’t gone far and I
managed to knock him over with one shot.
Five minutes later I was back at Bert’s with the whole animal in the back. “You
Bert’s last Bert Barra (1899–1993), renowned deer culler and animal control expert, is a missed the bastard eh?” was Bert’s first query. He’d only heard the one shot and
significant figure in both Wairarapa and New Zealand 20th century hunting assumed I’d missed it. “No, I got it. It’s in the back of the car” I replied, beginning
deer history. During the 1930s and ’40s, Bert shot for Internal Affairs, exceeding to feel a little proud of myself. “Where did you hit it?” he asked. When I
24,000 animals over his career and often had the responded in all innocence “In the head. Where else do you aim?” Bert laughed
top seasonal tally for Government shooters. He and laughed. I think he liked me a bit better after that.
came to Wairarapa in 1935 as a Field Officer for Bert went and got his knife. He looked at the spiker and decided he wasn’t up to
Deer Control in the Tararuas, where he was skinning a deer anymore. “He can still take one apart though,” I thought as I
responsible for the hunting programme. Retiring watched his bent figure astride the carcass grunting and muttering as he did the
from the New Zealand Forest Service in the early business.
1970s, Bert lived out his days in a simple hut We chucked the lumps of deer into sacks for delivery to some of Bert’s mates in
with no power at Kaituna in the Upper town. Bert gave me a list of names and asked if I would do the honours. “Who
Waingawa, on the main route to Mount Mitre. are you?” asked one old culling mate as he peered into the back of the Falcon.
This is named the Barra Track in his honour. “I’m Chris,” I said thrusting a bloody sack into his arms. “This is for you. From
Hunters who passed Bert’s hut in his later years Bert”. He smiled. “Good one” he said. “Good old Bert”.
would often drop him a back steak. Bert was In 1999, Deer Cullers Incorporated met near Bert’s hut and planted a totara in
always most appreciative, proclaiming each his memory. The plaque reads “In memory of Bert Barra. Deer Culler. Died 1993
offering as “the best bit of vension I ever had!” aged 93.”
He was certainly well qualified to know.
It is hoped that this story of what is thought to
be Bert’s last deer will be of interest to those
who knew him. He didn’t shoot it, in fact at
nearly 90 years old with poor health he may not
have been able to, but it certainly wouldn’t have
happened without him. Kaituna farmer Chris Tait
who owns the land on which Bert’s hut stands
tells the story.
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