Many deerstalkers hunting on Stewart Island during this autumn’s roar received an unexpected visit from government officials, including police, as well as iwi.
For a second successive year a joint compliance operation saw one police officer, three Department of Conservation (DOC), two Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and representatives from the Rakiura Māori Land Trust (RMLT) visit huts to inspect firearm licences and general compliance.
A police spokesperson said officials used the 22m DOC vessel Southern Winds to visit several huts on the island to ensure compliance with RMLT and DOC fishing and hunting block regulations.
“The operation was planned as Stewart Island is a very popular hunting area,” the spokesperson said.
“There are nine RMLT hunting blocks and 35 DOC-administered restricted hunting blocks.
“A large portion of Stewart Island is an open permit hunting area.”
Police conducted firearm and firearm licence compliance checks while RMLT representatives inspected huts on its land.
DOC conducted compliance checks of its huts and hunting blocks and MPI checked fishing vessels and those staying in hunting huts.
The police spokesperson said the operation was conducted on Stewart Island from Halfmoon Bay southeast to Port Pegasus and no decision has been made on whether it will be repeated next year.
The operation was successful.
“Firearms compliance was very good this year, with all hunters being licensed and firearms and ammunition secured properly.”
Charter operators taking hunting groups to the blocks advised clients there could be visits from officials.
“We believe this will have an effect on compliance of all regulations and hopefully an increase in safety.”
DOC Rakiura operations manager Jennifer Ross said because of the remoteness of some of the sites, using the vessel was the best way to conduct the checks.
“For DOC that means checking people are complaint with their hunting permits, the right names and number of people, and making sure they’re treating the huts and environment with care.”
Ross said the operation was a success and everyone spoken to engaged positively.