WARO court challenge update

The 2015 WARO review (helicopter hunting of deer) occurred with no hunter input and saw significant changes. In the lower North Island DoC removed the 30 year plus Ruahine restricted zone, the 30 year plus closed areas of the Tararuas and opened most of the Rimutakas to WARO (never previously open).

Intense political lobbying resulted in a review of the Ruahines and in late Dec 2015 DoC decided to reverse that change – albeit with a few major fishhooks. They refused to re-consider the Tararua or Rimutakas. The lower North Island Red Deer Foundation Inc (LNIRDF) lodged a claim for judicial review with the High Court in June 2016.

In pursuing this issue we have gained a lot of information from within DoC (via OIR’s) and the following is clear to us: • That recreational hunters had a right to be involved yet we were given no opportunity to advocate for the restrictions that existed and denied the chance to advocate for improvements. • There was no evidential basis to the openings. In their defence DoC have provided no Rimutaka data at all, the only Tararua data was between 30 and 57 years old and its author concluded it should not be used for animal management decisions. They said they relied on the new Tier 1 monitoring data to justify the openings of the Ruahines. However their emails show they didn’t even have that data when they made the decision to open the Ruahines and even then it does not show an issue.

The case went to court 5th Dec and was adjourned with the Judge wanting the WARO operators to have the opportunity to be involved lest they have an appeal option if she removed the openings. Of the possible 6 North Island WARO operators only one (Tim Williams of Wairarapa Helicopters) chose to become involved as an interested party. Whilst frustrating and requiring more effort, it will result in a more robust decision.

Mr Williams submitted his affidavit to the court mid-March and DoC and we have responded. There are a few more steps yet to go, then we finally have our new day in court on the 2nd of May 2017 and then we wait for the outcome from the judge. What can hunters do to support us ?

Costs have been significant and shared between the LNIRDF clubs (12 NZDA and 3 unaffiliated), a contribution from NZDA National office along with a multitude of individual and club donations. Other donations are needed. This challenge is about standing up for recreational hunter’s right to be properly considered on public land.

Posted: Sun 20 Aug 2017