Wapiti Winter Weekend - Fri 30th Jun Sun 2nd Jul 2023
Fiordland Wapiti Foundation 2022 - 23

Presidents Report

The 2022/23 year has been another substantial one for the Foundation. The ballot was once again oversubscribed by a factor of 5:1 showing the desire hunters have for chasing a big bull Wapiti in the dramatic backdrop of Fiordland National Park. The animals are increasing in quality, and it seems it is only a matter of time before we see another monster bull taken by a lucky ballot holder. They are out there.

Sadly, a disappointing number of young bulls were shot during the ballot this year. We need to give these youngsters time to grow if we want to optimise the chance for a balloted hunter to take a big bull in the future.

It is important to reiterate that we are primarily a conservation group. Our first responsibility is the ecological health of the Wapiti Ballot Block area. We are committed to the maintenance of low numbers of deer with a view to having healthy flora…with the obvious benefit of good antler growth for the hunters who fund everything the Foundation achieves. Thanks to all those who contribute through their ballot application and success fees.

In December the Foundation took the plunge and employed Roy Sloan as its general manager. Roy has been working for the FWF for about fifteen years – it is only now that he is being paid for it. He has been a tireless servant to the Foundation, and it would be a pale shadow of itself without his dedication and smarts. Many thanks Roy for your efforts – and please stay healthy.

The Winter Wapiti Weekend was a new initiative for the FWF this year. We have never held anything like a trade show before and it was a big undertaking. Having a paid employee giving this project his full attention made this achievable, along with a solid committee effort. Despite the bad weather, it was a successful weekend with many hunters and non-hunters visiting the stalls and attending the seminars as well as the Saturday night dinner and auction. A highlight of the weekend was the release of a film about Wapiti and the history of the Foundation, produced and narrated by the good people at NZ Hunter.

Many others support the FWF so there are a lot of people to thank. These include the volunteers who check the stoat traps, those who work on the huts programme and other projects, sponsors, the Department of Conservation staff who interface with us, particularly the Te Anau team, and the many others who believe in the Foundation’s work. I also want to thank the committee who have collectively put in a big volunteer effort. This year we see the retirement of a long-serving committee member, Chris Cameron. During the last twenty years, Chris has seen the Foundation grow from a passionate but disparate group to a united, scientifically-driven organisation. He has walked a lot of miles on stoat trap lines and guided that programme over the last few years. Thanks for all your efforts, Chris.

A highlight of the weekend was the release of a film about Wapiti and the history of the foundation.

There are interesting days ahead for the Foundation. The upcoming election will be a fascinating watch with the hunting fraternity being a large voting block. It is good to see this being recognised with ideas such as the proposed Ministry of Hunting and Fishing. There are some who would like to see any introduced animals eradicated from New Zealand so do your own research and get out and vote!

Finally, the Wapiti ballot opens again next month. Remember to put your application in and have a chance to win one of the finest hunting experiences in the world.

Best of luck!

Adam Fairmaid