One of the big projects of the year was the Nitz Valley upgrade. Something cool has been happening in this valley. We have noticed the bird life is increasing and we like to think that’s due to the trap line we have had in the valley for several years now.
So this year because of our partnership with With Wild who take the venison from the Wapiti area and onsell to businesses like Burger Fuel, we were able to increase the trap numbers by running another line on the opposite side of the valley.
Burger Fuel funded the $30k upgrade, which included possum control. We have just received another $30K from Burger Fuel and that will go a long way to managing the Nitz Valley for another year.
We also have a major trap upgrade happening in the Lower Glaisnock, where we are replacing the old single traps with double DoC 200s. This is a major task not only financially but also access-wise. It’s a big job in thick bush where the only access is by leg power.
Again we have been lucky with a very generous partner, a global non-profit group called Blood Origins that has come on board with Bergara International and Dikar S Coop donating 38k. Without these guys the Lower Glaisnock upgrade would have taken years to achieve due to the financial burden.
Blood Origins, Bergara and Dikar S Coop have recognised the value in the Wapiti Foundation’s conservation projects – we are hunters doing our bit for the country we care about. Helping conservation, pure and simple.
The Wapiti Foundation is looked upon with suspicion sometimes – labelled a group of hunters who only do conservation projects to justify our hunting. We challenge this label with the tangible outcomes we bring to conservation. Blood Origins, Bergara and Dikar S Coop didn’t even question who we are – they simply saw the important benefits that our hunting group is bringing to conservation in NZ and they gave us the money to do the job even better than we were already doing it.
This is a 501c3 public charity based in the United States that has a simple mission to convey the truth about hunting and hunters on a global stage. Through the use of engaging, educational content geared to the non-hunting majority around the world, Blood Origins highlights the true heart of hunters and shows, often for the first time, the benefits, impacts and consequences of hunting to people, wildlife, and communities all around the world.
This season we had to invest in the Lugar Burn trap line. The traps were getting some attention from kea so it was time to upgrade them with new technology and techniques. When I look at our partners over the years, Apparelmaster Ltd really stands out.
This business donates money to us and never asks what we’ll use it for or questions its use. Over the years most of the support we’ve received from Apparelmaster Ltd has gone into work in the Lugar Burn.
Unless you’re at the coal face it’s hard to understand the effort, time and energy needed to manage trap lines and other projects in Fiordland. It’s a tough and dangerous environment – and also the coolest place on earth. It takes a hell of a lot of planning to get all the required work done. Alan, the team really appreciates your support.
How does With Wild fit into the picture? When we are doing deer management, we prefer to recover the venison for human use. With Wild pays for the animals to be recovered and then markets and sells the venison. It’s a simple cost-neutral transaction – we are good at managing deer and the With Wild team is good at what they do. The Wapiti Foundation and With Wild marriage is bound together by financial returns to conservation from the venison sales. Fancy having conservation benefiting from venison sales! It’s a devil of a story for some but it works for us and conservation.
The Wapiti Foundation has had a long relationship with Back Country Cuisine; they’ve fed the majority of Wapiti hunters for a very long time.
This year Back Country trialled a scheme where during the three-month roar period a percentage of online sales went to the Wapiti Foundation.
We really applaud BCC for this initiative. Over the years, groups like FWF, the Sika Foundation and NZDA have dragged hunting in NZ into a new era and a lot of businesses have done well out of that.
Thank you Back Country – your support means a lot to us.
Branded clothing is a great way to promote your brand because people like being associated with successful teams and organisations.
Before Covid the Wapiti Foundation had a relationship with Stoney Creek, however for various reasons we agreed to part ways. Stoney Creek has been a little slow removing our brand from some of their lines so any Stoney Creek products on the market now do not benefit the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation in any manner – and that includes the new Nitz Valley range.
The Wapiti Foundation now has a new clothing partner and that is Points South, who will be branding a range of First Lite gear with the Wapiti Foundation logo. First Lite is one of the leading brands in the USA and many people will have seen Steven Rinella from the ‘Meat Eater’ show using it.
The team is excited to partner up with Cam at Points South.
Hunters in New Zealand seem to have an enduring habit of festering in a world of guilt. Our only game plan is defence – question or criticize us and we will fight you. We need to change this habit – and I do see some change – let’s be proud of what we do and let’s tell the world about it. We are making a difference, with our work creating tangible outcomes for conservation.
The Wapiti Foundation invests a lot of energy in this space, and it helps to have something positive to promote. It’s been a busy year for us in this field. Along with our partner With Wild, we were privileged to do a show with the Country Calendar team. CC is the second longest-running show in the world behind most hunters’ favourite Coronation Street (!).
650,000 people watched the show
There is another important reason why we need to promote ourselves and that is the Wapiti Foundation receives no funding from the government or DoC. We need partnerships to survive and the best way for people to believe that we are worth their support is by seeing what we do, and TV is the best media for promotion.
The Wapiti Weekend was a typical FWF project. We get bored quickly, we come up with new ideas, process them, focus on the benefits and run at it with eyes shut. Just get shit done.
The WWW did actually have a bit more planning around it than that. The business plan was king, just as it should have been. Our main objective was branding, and we believe we more than achieved our goals.
There were a number of key components to the weekend that made it successful. Friday night was Camo Carpet night with the release of the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation documentary, two years in the making. The night was a real hit. On the Saturday, we held a trade show which was well supported by the retail industry, along with a cooking show and several seminars.
We finished on the Saturday night with guest speaker Ken Tustin talking about moose.
Without some good partners, the Wapiti Weekend would not have been so successful. Hunting & Fishing NZ sponsored some competitions, Willie and the team from NZ Hunter gave their precious time, as always.
Thanks to Brittany Davies from Studio Waru for the last-minute graphics.
Thanks also to local businesses like the Wapiti Café, Northern Southland Transport, Top 10 Holiday Park, Event Te Anau, Lake View Motel & Apartments, and those great people who gave up their time and homes for the weekend.
A big thanks to everyone from the FWF team.
The big question we keep getting asked is whether we’ll do it again next year. We were poking a stick at Mother Nature when we named the show the Winter Wapiti Weekend and she certainly bared her teeth at us, with snow closing roads right across the lower South.
However, we chose July to bring people to Te Anau in the winter and that certainly worked, hopefully helping the local economy. The weekend made some valuable coin for the Foundation, and we learnt a hell of a lot.
Would we do it again? Yes, but we will look at a different format and choose a different time of the year. One option we’re talking about is winding the clock back and having the Wapiti ballot drawn live during an evening dinner and building the Wapiti Weekend around that.
The ballot is generally drawn in November. This idea is starting to grow legs so hopefully we will firm something up soon.
The Fiordland Wapiti Foundation Doco will be showing at the Sika Show. The documentary took two years to make and show cases the work the Foundation does in the park, along with a snapshot of the herds history. Plus a couple of monster bulls that still grace the mountains of fiordland.