Hunters with Department of Conservation-issued permits have been kicked out of the Urewera Ranges as Tuhoe flexes its muscles after regaining control of the national park.
Hunting in Te Urewera has been suspended indefinitely and all DOC permits to hunt or run pig dogs in the area are now void.
The dramatic changes come on the heels of Te Urewera Act in which Te Urewera's status as a national park was rescinded and management ceded to the new Te Urewera Board, a joint Crown-Tuhoe partnership.
DOC communications and engagement adviser Robyn Orchard said permits to hunt in Te Urewera were no longer available. "We're not issuing permits. DOC hunting permits are not being recognised by the board. That's all I can say."
The changes were confirmed by Tuhoe spokesperson Herehere Titoko. "Permits previously issued by DOC are no longer valid."
Waikato Deerstalkers Association president Pete Evans said he was unaware DOC permits were no longer valid until contacted by the Waikato Times.
"There will be hunters going down there thinking they're going to be OK. Considering it's four hours' drive away that's a big deal. "I'd like this to be resolved immediately." Evans said 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the association's membership hunt in Te Urewera during the year.
The changes also have implications for helicopter operators who airlift hunters into the remote bush. None of the pilots spoken to by the Times was aware of the new rules.
Titoko said that while there would be no restriction to access into Te Urewera - meaning tramping and fishing activities would continue unchanged - the board was deciding how to best implement a hunting permit system.
"As part of its governance responsibilities the board is considering the whole environment of permitting for hunting. Conditions will be applied to protect the user, other visitors and Te Urewera, however the permit will not be simply a reproduction of the former DOC version."
Potential differences between the permits are unclear at this stage. "How to do that is what is being currently considered and being given time to resolve," Titoko said. "We are unsure when that process will be completed."
Te Urewera is home to a wide variety of game, including large populations of rare and elusive rusa deer. Spring is a favourable time to stalk deer, as they leave the dense forest to feed on new grass and shrub growth.
To read the original Waikato Times article, click here.