Half a tonne of venison from the controversial North Canterbury Hunting Competition has been processed by volunteers and the Hope Community Trust and distributed it to those in need.
The competition made headlines all over the world in the lead-up to the event when it encouraged contestants to shoot feral cats, a serious threat to several native species in New Zealand.
The event, which took place on Saturday in Rotherham, drew attention from all over NZ as well, including a visit from television personality and reporter Patrick Gower.
On the day, the controversy briefly flared up again as animal rights protesters and competitors confronted one another.
One of the event’s organisers, local farmer Mat Bailey, said the charity initiative “puts a great light on the whole competition”, which was, he said, “a great day for the community”.
“It’s just so bloody awesome to have it happen,” he said.
The idea to process the meat and distribute it throughout the community was prompted by the Hope Community Trust and other volunteers.
“They all approached us about it all – Steve Hill from the Hope Community Trust and a few others – and we said yeah that would be great.
“Then from there, Steve and everyone involved took them [the deer carcases] away and processed them ready to be distributed throughout the community.”
He said the competition serves many different purposes, including getting the community together, getting people into the outdoors and encouraging locals to do their part for conservation.
It is also a pretty handy fundraiser for the Rotherham school and community pool.
“In the end it ended up bringing in something like $60,000. We don’t have the exact figure but tickets came in at $58,000, plus food sales, but we also had some bills and things.
“But the school and the pool are probably looking at around 25 grand each, so that’s pretty awesome.”
Bailey said invasive pest numbers are very high in the district, and he has noticed a significant drop in birdlife, which he attributes to that.
“We were hearing a tonne of reports throughout the day about people having real issues with feral cats, “ he said.
“The effects these feral cats end up having on birdlife and biodiversity is just heart wrenching, to be honest.”
Final tallies for the main categories were 243 feral cats, 145 possums, 231 pigs, 142 deer, 128 hares and 69 rabbits.