MP Todd McClay – Kiwi Hunting and Fishing Public Need a Voice



Earlier this year, the National Party announced if elected government in the election later this year, it would set up a Minister of Hunting and Fishing. Shadow minister is Rotorua M.P. Todd McClay who Tony Orman spoke to recently in Blenheim and put some questions to him.

Editors note:- It should be noted the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ) is ‘apolitical’ relative to political parties. It has no affiliations with any political party. However CORANZ believes in”politics is simply cause and effect” and leading up to the election will publish any outdoor related matters relating to any political party’s policy

Todd, how did the concept of a Hunting and Fishing Minister evolve?

The hunting and fishing minister concept had its birth at last October’s Sika Show in Taupo where I spoke to the Safari Club International Dinner and proposed the idea which was enthusiastically received. Leader of the National Party Chris Luxon also attended the Sika Show and engaged with the many hunters and was impressed with the need.

There are one million recreational fishers – trout, salmon in freshwater and saltwater anglers – in New Zealand and then there’s 250,000 people who actively hunt or engage in firearm sports like clay bird shooting, rifle range shooting and many of them feel they’ve never been listened to. National’s come to their rescue.

It’s specific – it’s around Kiwis who hunt and fish.

How would it work within government? Surely there’’l be conflict with other ministries such as Fisheries or DoC?

Around the Cabinet table the new Hunting and Fishing Minister would be on an equal footing with other relevant ministers such as on firearms with the Police Minister, or on big game animal matters with the Conservation Minister of recreational sea fishing with the Minister of Fisheries. So for example, the Department of Conservation would answer to two ministers on wild animal management, access to public lands and so on.

We’re still working through on details.

How about the matter of the prejudice against so-called introduced species?

Look the anti-introduced prejudice is not realistic. How long for example, do trout have to be here before they are recognised as a valued sport fish, here to stay and part of the 21st century ecosystem? The same with big game animals. Trout and deer have been here for over 170 years.

Let’s get on with managing them, not despising them with “hate campaigns” futilely trying to exterminate them. 

Frankly I don’t like the word “pest”. We should talk of resource and management.

You can’t just leave deer and pigs to roam freely, but this doesn’t mean you need to do what it sometimes feels DOC and others suggest which is to exterminate them completely. However, they need to be a managed species. 

Besides extermination policies in terms of fish and game are pointless, a waste of money and futile.

Big game animals, e.g. deer, tahr, wapiti, etc., is an interesting one?

Well same thing. We should talk of herd management and in “herds of special interest”. There are none at the moment but soon will be when National is in government. I envisage management of game animals would come under the new Hunting and Fishing portfolio.

I’m not in favour of setting up a new bureaucratic ministry that is costly and doesn’t achieve much. But it’s at the cabinet table where it will all happen for the new Minister of Hunting and Fishing.

Ah firearms! There’s a lot of debate around police proposals to raise licence fees way up? How do you view that?

Well with this new, first-time, Minister of Hunting and Fishing would be on the same footing as the Minister of Police, simple as that. 

At the moment there’s the vexed question of government – and police – wanting to raise the firearm licence fees to some exorbitant, extraordinary height. There’s some 250,000 licensed firearm owners and they obey the law.

Is government going to continue to target them discouraging lawful firearm ownership and driving them underground while ignoring the often unlawful unlicensed firearm owners in gangs and criminals? 

The question is how did police arrive at the extraordinarily high proposed licence costs?

A firearm register? I’m not a fan for it. I’m open minded though but I’m very aware other countries have given up on the idea of a firearm register as it’s hugely expensive and achieves nothing in lowering crime rates.

What’s your background in hunting and fishing?

I developed an early interest in trout fishing when the family lived at Paeroa and Taumarunui. Then as a 14 year old, I discovered the Waitahanui River at Taupo. Dad (Roger McClay M.P.) would drop me off at the Slab Pool upriver and I with a mate for two, would fish down to the state highway bridge near the lake where we’d be picked up.

I was always into duck shooting, accompanying my friends and when I was at Wellington studying at the polytechnic I purchased an old .303 and took to the hills of the Wairarapa at every opportunity.

We saw some deer, but never got one. We were too green as hunters. (laughs)

I returned to the central North Island and eventually bagged my first deer, a sika hind.

After working overseas, when I came home, my firearms licence had expired because the system had changed. I sat it again about the time I was standing for Parliament got back into hunting and really enjoyed it.

Do you get out hunting now?

Not as much as I’d like to. With parliamentary commitments I’d love more time for the outdoors.

I’m aware I’m not getting time to do enough – much less now than I used to. It’s now something that I like to do with family – with my growing children.


Tell me about your family and hunting?

So, while I don’t have as much time as I might like to go hunting, I do get out at least a few times a year. Each of my four children have had a chance to come with me if they wanted to and shoot a deer. My middle son, Sam, got to shoot his first deer when he was 13 or 14 years old on the TV programme “Hunting Aotearoa”.

For me and the kids, it’s not so much about shooting the animals. Although we’re all very chuffed when we bring one back.

We’ve gone out and seen quite a few animals and decided not to shoot them for various reasons such as a hind with a young fawn at foot or hidden away. When I first started taking the kids out, we often wouldn’t take a firearm, only binoculars, and I’d get them to watch and learn about the habits of deer and so on. Other times with a rifle, we’d bring deer back, but don’t feel that we have to.

I’ve also taught them how to butcher a deer. As a family we enjoy eating venison. 

For me, it’s a sort of escaping the cell phone and other distractions, you’ve got a couple of your children with you and it’s top quality time.

What’s this I hear about a National Party Parliamentary Hunt?

First let me say on management, I think a Game Animal Council is a really good way to manage the herds, but what’s really important is that hunters would have representation and a say, because they haven’t up until then

The Parliamentary hunt. One of the things A few of us in National decided thought a parliamentary hunt, to raise awareness and appreciation of what hunting is all about, was a good idea. It’s worked off and on over a period of time, interrupted by Covid. 

I decided to get quite involved – After all I could go hunting and call it work! We went on the southern side of Lake Taupō and invited our MPs – some of them had never been in the bush before. We’ve even had female MPs who brought their daughters along, went out hunting and shot their first deer, such as a yearling sika and took the meat home to eat as a family. A great experience for them!

Firearm safety?

When my son and I were on the TV programme [Hunting Aotearoa], I insisted I bring the kids and emphasise firearm safety. That’s always been very important to me – to teach firearm safety early from quite a young age. Teach them to respect firearms.

And I can still picture the joy on my son’s face when he downed his first deer 

We talked about meat for the freezer. Do you know I’ve only ever shot two stags in my life. As a family we hunt for meat, so we choose the animal we think will give the best venison.

How About Fiordland’s wapiti herd?

The wapiti in Fiordland is a fine example of cooperation between government and the hunting public. I’ve talked hunters who’ve gone into Fiordland and left  young potentially good trophy heads alone, as they can see it’s going to be superb trophy in a few years time. 

At the same time it will continue to grow, mate and inject quality into the bloodline. That’s a great unselfish, positive attitude by hunters.

A Hunting Licence?

I’m not really a fan of the Fish and Game model for funding i.e. a licence although if that happened, I might voice my opinion without jumping up and down about it. I don’t think you should have to have a licence to go onto public land and shoot a deer. If we do that, I think we’ve lost something the freedom to head for the bush on public lands and take an animal.  There needs better funding for the Game Animal Council with no government interference.

There are probably over one million New Zealanders who enjoy fishing and hunting often or every now and again. Extend that to families getting involved outdoors – it’s a massive number of Kiwis. Surely a Minister for Recreational Hunting and Fishing is logically a great idea?  It really boils down to over a million New Zealander and their hunting and fishing, lack a voice at the cabinet table. 

Now you could have a minister representing them at the cabinet table – surely a much needed thing.


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16 Responses to MP Todd McClay – Kiwi Hunting and Fishing Public Need a Voice

  1. Frank Henry says:

    This is unique, i.e. the concept of a Hunting and Fishing Minister. Depending on the election result in October, the formation of a coalition government with National involved, could see a much needed voice.
    It is somewhat ironic that in the political history of NZ, many of the environment battles have been with National governments. I think in terms of “Save Manapouri”, trout farming and sale of Crown Lands battles but more recently in 2009 the sacking by National PM John Key and Nick Smith of the democratically elected council Environment Canterbury (ECan) to speed up the expansion of corporate dairying in Canterbury, South Canterbury and other S.I. regions.
    What of sea fisheries and the corporate-monoplised quota system with resultant over-fishing and bottom trawling?
    But if National has an enlightened attitude, well that has to be a positive outlook.
    Todd McClay’s responses were very encouraging.

  2. Tim Neville says:

    One swallow does not a summer make. I like what I hear from McLay but I would like to hear more from other National M.P.s. It would also be useful to hear where his party stands on current moves to remove the special legislation that protects the status of trout and salmon.

  3. Bud jones JonesQSM says:

    Well the first Q. out of the box to Todd, for those of us engaged in hunting & fishing,especially, must be what is he doing about the DOC OPTIONS Working GROUP, charged with preparing all the paperwork to hand over the entire Conservation Estate to Tribal ownership, which would effectively end free public access by simple lock out, without clipping a fee ticket.The process is well under way elsewhere, like all water has been Iwi demanded & will shortly be given ownership using the ludicrous claim that “moedis have rights & interests in water”.A claim deemed to be sufficient to hand over ownership of the public asset which will be then sold back to the public being an essntial need, thus creating a permanent revenue stream, [pun intended], to moedis.

    • Dave Rhodes says:

      Didn’t I just read that Bee Keepers are now locked out of DOC administered public lands in the whole South Island (It’s NOT DOC Estate – It’s Ours!)
      Apparently, if true, only iwi are able to now operate hives on our public lands….

  4. Jack Tūhawaiki, says:

    Good question Bud Jones.
    It should be noted, the John Key National government and former Ngai Tahu employee Chris Finlayson as Treaty minister, handed over the people’s Urerewa National Park to the Tuhoe.
    The reality is we are one people. Both Maori and Europeans were migrants.
    There is no justification for racial division of New Zealanders. Besides today there are no full blooded “Maori” in New Zealand.
    The outdoors are for all New Zealanders.
    The idea of a Minister for Hunting and Fishing is a good constructive one, long overdue.

  5. Grizzled says:

    I have lived through five National Governments in my lifetime. None of them were a friend to recreational anglers or hunters. If you think another one would be any different (despite Mr McClay’s assurances) you just aren’t reading the room right. Some of us haven’t forgotten Mark Burton’s Bill, and what happened to it as soon as National were elected.

    • Lew says:

      All politicians have the gift of the gab but when it comes to honouring those words it comes to nought, look at Winston Peters on the 1080 issue he’s got the gift but they are only weasel words.

  6. Phil Cregeen says:

    I like the idea of a Minister for Hunting and Fishing, after all we have one for Racing and other recreational activities such as Sport and Art.
    I also like the idea put forward by National of including firearm owners (COLFO) in the firearm policy decision making process. Although they will need to watch that they don’t lose their freedom to lobby on behalf of licensed firearm owners.
    For those who felt betrayed by Nationals inaction in regards to opposing recent Arms Act changes, we need to remember that we need National in power with Act if there is to be any change to the current status quo.

  7. Dr. Charlie Baycroft says:

    I appreciate Mr McLay’s support for the members of our Outdoors Community. Where has it been hiding for so many years as National Party people refused to speak on our behalf or even with us.
    Why have national MPs not been standing up and saying these things in our parliament for the past 10 or 20 years or more?

    Maybe they have realized that we are a huge community whose members vote and that those votes are extrmely valuable.

    As usual, a politician will suggest another government buraucracy that is supposed to provide benefit for a group of people but really provides little value for the public money that it spends.

    We do not have the money for any more expensive and non productive bureaucracies because the working people of New Zealand are already very seriously burdened by personal and public debt.

    A Ministry of Hunting and Fishing, How lovely, more civll servants to pay, get permission from and comply with so we can be allowed to do what we have a right to do.

    No thanks Todd. What we want is proper RESPECT for our community and its culture heritage and traditions and the freedoms that have been denied us to be given back.

    Some other people might be critical of who we are and what we do but the people in our governments need to avoid incorprating this criticism into prejudicial decisions and legislation that
    Disadvantages us,
    Discriminated against us and
    Criminalizes us
    When there is no objective evidence that we have, are or will cause any harm to other people or their property.

    Government funding of Colfo sounds tempting but is it not just a way to get govenment control over an organization that belongs to and represents LFOs.
    People in our governments have been ignoring Colfo for decades and now they want to own it. I smell a rat.

    My advice to other members of our huge Outdoors community is BE PROUD, STAND TALL, and refuse to accept any guilt, shame or need to explain or justify who we are and what we do to anyone else.

    We are preserving the culture, hertitage and traditions of our respected ancestors and passing it on to future generations.

    We are protecting out culture, heritage and traditions from being vilified and taken from us by politically active Omnipotent Moral Busybodies.

    We are such a large community of voters that people with political ambitions will have to accept and represent us instead of ignoring and disadvantaging us because we are becoming more politically informed and active.

    The culture, heritage and traditions we value are all threatened by prejudicial and discriminatory government decisoins and legislation.
    We know that Mr. McClay and we are not going to take it anymore.

    If you want us to believe and trust you, Todd, get Mr. “No Commitment” Chris Luxon to publically pledge his support and that of the National Party to respect and protect THE RIGHTS of the people who hunt, fish and responsibly use firearms from ever being infringed or violated by any government decisions of legislation.

    A sincere apology for past injustices and insults might be appropriate as well?


  8. Paul Hedwig says:

    Todd has always been an advocate for our freedom to enjoy the hunting and fishing opportunities we as New Zealander have on offer , and he’s to be commended for that!
    My issue is that unless National and Act have sufficient numbers at election time that will have to join a coalition partner that could well withhold this National proposal, especially if it’s the Maori party ( unless there something in it for them)
    We need to dump Labour from a great height, then hold the incumbent party accountable for all these promises.
    National does not have a great record with outdoor grounds!
    Make sure your vote counts.

  9. Lew says:

    Nicole McKey, ACT.

  10. Chaz Forsyth says:

    Basically, Todd is advocating for the harvesting (wise use) of some introduced species. I like that. It’s been a long time coming though!

    In the meantime, many surprising controls have been placed upon licensed firearm owners, with onerous provision for the ‘control of clubs and shooting ranges’. Must give the NATs credit for fighting some of those measures, but they were outvoted!

    Anyway, now that firearm owners and shooting clubs are heavily regulated, far beyond what gambling and horse racing clubs are, we know that ‘do good’ pollies of the present central government have had their way with us.

    For how long do you think firearm registration will remain free? About as long as we had our ‘lifetime’ firearm and driving licences?

    Are you feeling safer? How would you like some snake oil?

  11. Stewart Hydes says:

    Congrats to the Nats, for cottoning on.
    This is the Election .. like no other in our country’s history .. when we must ACT.
    What National are really doing here reflecting what ACT recognised several years ago.
    The Firearms Community and the wider Outdoors Community represent a very large number of NZ’ers .. who have always taken our rightful place amongst New Zealand society for granted. We’ve never asserted it .. because we’ve never had to. We’ve always assumed we were respected, and acknowledged as a group of people who represent, have contributed, and continue to contribute, enormously to modern New Zealand’s social, cultural, democratic, environmental, conservation, mental, physical, spiritual and economic wellbeing.
    Well, that’s changed .. because we’ve been severely wronged.
    This government has poked the bear .. and now we are stirring, and must awaken from our slumber.
    In a country of pathological apathy .. that takes time.
    But we’re not going away anytime soon.
    Apart from there being around 1 million of us .. we have billions of dollars worth of recreational assets. We spend, and therefore contribute to our economy, into the hundreds of millions of dollars per annum.
    We harvest 150-200,000 big game animals per year .. as well as literally millions of smaller critters (rabbits, hares, possums, goats, wallabies, ducks, geese, feral cats, mustelids etc) .. all of which the taxpayer would otherwise have to pick up the tab for (we do it for free). And we participate in millions of hours of recreational activity .. each and every year.
    It’s about time the Firearms Community woke up, realised, and started to believe in our strength in the wider community.
    It’s all about assuming our rightful .. and righteous .. place.
    It’s good to know that National have recognised our voting strength .. we will be able to count on them to support us, when in government.
    And (providing we can get our act together) we’ll help to put them there.
    But’s it’s Nicole McKee’s new, draft Arms Act that we want. So National’s ascension to government should be as a coalition partner to ACT.
    We have only one choice, in the upcoming Election: party vote ACT .. for our future outdoors.

  12. Peter Storey says:

    I asked his PA – who contacted me about running an advert on this initiative – how he and National reconcile it with the destruction of trout habitat through intensive dairying, irrigation, etc. Yet to hear back . . . on either.

  13. Teddy Roosterveldt says:

    This is a step in the right direction and is somewhat encouraging. After the election I would hope to see Nicole McKee as Justice Minister – it would be pointless her being Police Minister because with the politicized muppets in charge at Police she would spend all her time fighting them and never get anything done – and this should be a definite condition of ACT forming a coalition with National.

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