DOC investigating Norwegian kereru killers

Reuben Williams —  09/04/2010

Many of you will have been saddened to hear about the kereru hunting incident at the hands of tourist hunters in the South Island, which was subsequently posted on YouTube.

NZ woodpigeon or Kereru. Photo: Sam O'Leary

NZ woodpigeon or kereru. Photo: Sam O'Leary

Lots of understandably angry people have been calling and emailing DOC and the Minister about the incident and everyone should be assured that the authorities are following it up.

The Department of Conservation’s compliance team has launched a full investigation into the incident and we have identified the alleged offenders.

The hunters claim that they did not know kereru were protected, but I’m afraid ignorance is no defence under the Wildlife Act. The NZ Police have confirmed that the firearms used by the shooters were legally imported to New Zealand through the correct process and then taken by the hunters back to Norway.

DOC is currently putting together a detailed investigation report. Pending which a decision will be made on what course of action will be taken here in New Zealand.

The penalty for hunting or killing Absolutely Protected Species like kereru is a $100,000 fine and/or 1 year in prison.  For a gamebird offence like hunting paradise shell duck the penalty is $5000 fine and $100 per head of game.

All information has been available to the Norwegian authorities who are also investigating the alleged offence, in line with their legislation.

Youtube footage of the shooters

Story from TVNZ

About kereru on the DOC website

4 responses to DOC investigating Norwegian kereru killers

    Anna Thompson 15/08/2010 at 1:47 am

    Kia ora koutou, I’ve spent quite a bit of time perusing websites and information on hunting in NZ and can understand visitors to New Zealand being confused. There are mixed messages about New Zealand’s outdoor culture and environmental values….and hunting culture-regulations. DoC and Tourism New Zealand need to provide more specific information about hunting and fishing regulations for visitors prior to arrival and upon being issued permits. Seeking specific information is difficult even on arrival, esp. if English is not a first language. My impressions are that these young men acted unintentionally. Norway has a culture of ‘friluftsliv’ which encourages respect for nature and living with nature on nature’s terms … including seeking sustenance from nature (as do many NZ hunters and fisherpeople).This cultural background combined with their experiences in New Zealand trying to live in the outdoors has resulted in tragic circumstances. Undoubtedly they regret their actions …looking to the future more information on regulations and compliance for NZ recreationists, and especially international visitors, is needed from DoC and those in the tourism sector that assist access to hunting areas (ie charter flight operators)! Perhaps their story can be used positively…for informing future visitors .


    Watching the TVNZ video, there was an interview with someone saying the lads just need some education. I feel any responsible hunter should educate themselves about where they are going to hunt, especially if it’s in a foreign country and across the globe. So I don’t think they should get a pass for being ignorant. They made a choice to go to another country without doing the necessary research and then post a video of their exploits.

    Of course, many people are not responsible enough to do this research, so maybe there should be a required test or something like this to educate foreigners before they hunt in NZ. Then if they do something like this, we can say, we told them not to do it, they knew it was wrong, they pay the price.

    Reuben Williams 12/04/2010 at 10:47 am

    Thanks for your comments Mike. Your support is much appreciated! I can tell you that the investigation report is nearing completion, which will then go to the Norwegian authorities. We will let the public know that outcome as soon as possible.




    Thanks for the update. I just hope they’ll be treated fairly when compared with New Zealanders who commit similar crimes, rather than be judged by the media frenzy that seems to have resulted from nightly news having had “shocking” pictures they could show of immature foreigners having fun playing with guns and shooting New Zealand stuff, even though much shown in that video was legal albeit distressing or insulting for many people. I’m sure it’ll be treated fairly in the end, but the $100,000 figure with 12 months jail has been thrown around a lot, and I have an impression that some people assume they’ll now have to get something comparable, if they can even be brought in front of a justice system. But surely there would have to be far worse things for a maximum penalty than to shoot 2 Kereru, and then a gamebird out of season and with the wrong kind of firearm, wouldn’t there? Otherwise what happens to a person who does something worse?

    I don’t know if this is the perfect place to bring this up, but I wonder if DOC and other interested agencies could attempt to provide more information for people about their obligations at the point of arrival when they enter New Zealand?

    There’s this case, where the guys are at least claiming they didn’t realise what they did was illegal (maybe, maybe not). I guess I’m also thinking of recent high profile things like people trying to smuggle out geckos. A tourist who vandalised a gate protecting an historic site had her blog post nailed by the media, gleefully attracting hundreds of out-of-control angry comments on her blog — the weight of everyone mad at all inconsiderate tourists — for something that was probably just a dumb thing she’d done without realising the significance. Numerous visitors go tramping ill equipped and require rescues (not to imply that locals don’t), or use back-country huts without paying fees because they decided before they started that it was all free or was so cheap and un-checked they couldn’t be bothered paying, and so on.

    I’ve flown into Auckland a few times in the last year. There’s heaps of information in-flight and in the airport about biological threats and what not to bring in, as I suppose that’s the immediate problem that customs and immigration officials encounter at the airport. On the other hand there’s virtually no obvious preventative information about how to act or what to expect after stepping onto New Zealand soil outside the airport.

    I suppose many people don’t research much about things like safety and penalties and how to respect local culture before they arrive, and I wonder if arrivals sections of airports could display some pamphlets, or equivalent, to catch the eye of people visiting for certain reasons. eg. With titles like “Essential information for tramping or hunting in New Zealand”, “Essential things to know about committing crimes and sentences in New Zealand”, and so on… Just to remind people to be respectful to places they visit, to point out how seriously certain crimes like animal and plant smuggling are treated, to tell people what, how and when they’re allowed to hunt certain things, and so on.

    Obviously it won’t stop everything. Some people will just ignore such information and warnings regardless, especially going by some of the awfully disrespectful behaviour I’ve seen of some tourists in other countries. On the other hand, it may also trigger a few others to think much more carefully about what they’re intending to do before they do it.

    Anyway, just some thoughts. I’m rambling. Cheers. 🙂