Chapter Four — The sport of gentlemen
The sport of gentlemen
Was this Country settled by an Industrious People they would very soon be supply 'd not only with the necessarys but many of the luxuries of life.
—Captain James Cook
During the mid 19th century the keeping of deer in parks was a recognised occupation of the wealthy leisure English gentlemen: having animals so one could go out and have fun killing them was very much an upper-class hobby of the time. The New Zealand pioneer landowner was very keen to emulate the practice that was so envied and respected back home — only the New Zealander thought on a much grander scale, making his plans in terms of deer forests rather than mere parks.
The first introductions of deer were red deer which were gifts of English and Scottish park owners to kinsmen and friends in the new country. Lord Petre of Thorndon Hall, Essex, sent the first, a stag and a hind, to Nelson. The stag arrived in 1851, but the hind failed to survive the long journey.
In 1853 His Royal Highness the Prince Consort sent, through Lord John Russell, the Royal Ranger, a stag and a hind from the Royal Park at Richmond. These two deer were shipped on the Eagle. The ship arrived in Nelson on 30th March 1854, but unfortunately the hind had died four days prior to this. The lonely stag was housed in some racing stables, on the property of Edward Stafford of Nelson, and then, in the spring, he was released in the Waimea valley.
In 1860, hearing of the failure of one of his pair to arrive. Lord Petre sent three extra deer. They were shipped on the Donna Anita, which sailed from London in September. The three deer lasted the four-and-a-half month voyage well, arriving in good health. With the difficulties in cartage at the time they were not transported far, but were released in the hills behind the settlement. Consequently the herd did not at first multiply as hoped. The animals were too tame and hung around close to town, so that they were peppered by all and sundry. The story goes that one Nelson resident page 66 shot so many stags over the years that his house was decorated with antlers from front to back, with a particularly fine set over the door of his hen-house. However the deer herd managed to survive these depredations, and by 1899 had spread over much of the Nelson Province and 100 shooting licences were being issued each year.
The Petre Head
In 1874 a stag skeleton was found by a boy, Harry Hodgson, near the Dun Mountains, Nelson, while he was out hunting wild goats. It is generally believed that this was the stag received from Thorndon Hall, Essex, in 1851. Mr E.N. Jones, of Nelson, obtained the antler and skull from Hodgson and gave them to his brother-in-law, Mr William Brown, of Wellington, who mounted the head on the skin of another stag.
In 1861, immediately prior to his death, Prince Albert the Prince Consort sent out six more deer from the Windsor Deer Park. Three of them travelled on the Triton, a very small sailing ship, and the other three were shipped on a larger vessel, the Harwood. Only three deer survived, a stag and a hind on the Triton, and one hind on the Harwood. Carrying animals on the sailing ships of the time was extremely hazardous: the voyage was very slow, and deer require a large amount of fodder and are very fussy about their drinking water.
The Triton took its cargo to Wellington, and on arrival the animals were put in a stable known locally as 'Noah's Ark'. The other hind, the deer from the Harwood, arrived in Lyttelton and from there was sent north to join the rest in Wellington. For quite a while the people of Wellington didn't know what to do with them, and an atmosphere of controversy arose; eventually Mr C. R. Carter, the Member of Parliament representing the Wairarapa, offered to have the deer taken to his farm near Carterton.
The journey was quite an undertaking. This was before the establishment of the railway, and all cartage had to be forwarded by horse or bullock-drawn wagons which crossed the Rimutaka Ranges at an elevation of 550 metres. The deer were placed in the crates in which they had arrived, and were taken by horse wagon. Mr Carter put them in charge of his brother-in-law, Mr James Robieson, who found that they were in very poor condition. He fed them tenderly on hay and hand-cut grass and they thrived. They were retained in a sheep pen, and it must have been due to either their weakness or their tameness that they made no attempt to jump the rails and escape. When they had improved in condition neighbours were invited to a party to see the liberation. The deer were no doubt alarmed at all the unaccustomed noise, as during the morning one of the hinds escaped. However, finding herself alone she soon returned and anxiously waited round.
This display of tameness inspired Mr Robieson to show off (his fiancee was among the bystanders) and he tried to lassoo the stag around the antlers. The stag resented this indignity and retaliated immediately by driving Mr Robieson out of the shed. Eventually the animal was calmed down, and the rope was removed, the doors were opened and the two deer scampered out, to be joined by the hind waiting outside.
Mr Robieson made out a long and humorous report in 1923 for T.E. Donne, who related it in his fine work The Game Animals of New Zealand. According to Mr Robieson, the deer after release leaped lightly over a high thorn hedge, and from then on amused themselves by chasing curious gentlemen around the fields. It turned out that they were not being aggressive, but wanted the sugar lumps that they were used to human beings offering them. The gentlemen did not stay to find this out, being anxious to put the nearest fence between themselves and the animals.
Later on the three deer settled down with some cattle on the property of a man named Jury. Mr Jury took a great interest in the deer, and protected them possessively. After the first rutting the stag tried to return to Robieson's sheep pens, and had to be chased away. The first breeding took place on Jury's run and then the deer spread into the Maungaraki range. Donne asserts that this must be one of the most successful instances of acclimatisation on record, as from these three deer have sprung scores of thousands.
In early Wellington one of the most curious structures on the waterfront was that known as 'Noah's Ark'. The ship Inconstant, entering the harbour on 3rd October 1849 missed her stays and drifted onto rocks at what is now known as Inconstant Point. The surveying steamer Acheron was in Wellington at the time and managed to tow the stranded ship into the harbour. However the damage was severe and the cost of repair was not worthwhile, so her owners sold her — as is, where is — on the mud flats at Te Aro.
Her first purchaser was a local shipwright. He failed to make anything of her, so he in turn sold her to a Mr John Plimmer, who beached her, had her shored up, and built a store shed on her deck. This shed was used as a stable for animals as they arrived in Wellington from far-off lands, and the odd structure naturally came to be locally famous as 'Noah's Ark'. Eventually the old Bank of New Zealand was built on her site, and a part of her hull apparently lies under the basement.
In 1847 Colonel William Wakefield had written: 'It would be a most advantageous and attractive thing if some 'Scotch' proprietors would send some red deer to be turned out here. In the course of a few years there is no doubt they would increase largely. The sport of hunting them would be highly attractive and would conduce to the breed of horses, and afford a manly amusement to the young colonists, fitting them for the more serious life of stock-keeping and wool-growing.' page 69 When the Otago Acclimatisation Society members turned their minds to the idea of importing deer, they also automatically thought of 'Scotch' deer, because Scotland was the country that most of them regarded as home. Towards the end of 1868 J. A. Ewen, a prominent Dunedin businessman, during a trip to his home town of Brechin, wrote saying that he had interviewed the Earl of Dalhousie about the possiblity of obtaining deer.
This news warmed the Scots hearts of the council members. To make the deal even more attractive, they learned that the Earl had kindly offered to give the animals free of charge to the Society. Accordingly Ewen arranged for twenty calves. (For this initiative and enterprise he was given a life membership of the Society.)
Capturing the animals was very different from taking English deer from the semi-tame herds of deer parks, as the Scottish deer were truly wild. Mr Campbell, the Forester for the Earl of Dalhousie in Invermark Forest, was put in charge of the operation. He and another stalker, Donald Cameron, captured sixty calves during the early summer of 1870. Feeding the little animals was a time-consuming business, with the men having to provide milk as well as fodder. At the end of weaning only 17 calves survived. The animals were very timid and shy at first, but with the hand-rearing they became so tame that they followed Campbell and Cameron around like dogs.
The young deer left Scotland in two shipments. The first lot, a group of eight, travelled on the City of Dunedin, a three-masted square-rigged sailing vessel, in October 1870; the others, a shipment of nine, left in November on the Warrior Queen. The shipping line, Shaw Savill Company, made no charge for their freight.
The first group of calves arrived at Port Chalmers in January 1871. Only six had survived the journey. The second shipment, on the Warrior Queen, arrived in February with all nine animals in good condition. They had been in the care of Charles Bills, who afterwards became a bird dealer in George Street, Dunedin. The first group was carried to the Morvern Hills district, being shipped along the coast to Oamaru and then carted by bullock wagon to the Morvern Hills Station where they were released. The other nine deer were sent to Oamaru by the Wallace. This was a small iron paddle-steamer owned by the Harbour Board Company of Dunedin, a company formed by the ex-whaler Johnny Jones, and which later became the Union Steamship Company. From Oamaru this group was taken to Palmerston, where they were carried to the Bushey Park estate and released. The Bushey Park deer did very well. They moved west, in the end mingling with the Morvern Hills group.
The Scottish deer acclimatised very easily, perhaps because of the isolation of the area; their lot was very different from what the Nelson deer had had to put up with. In 1895, the Otago Acclimatisation Society was given two four-year-old stags from the Melbourne Hunt Club in Victoria, Australia. The Melbourne deer sprang from stock donated to the Hunt Club by Prince Albert, and were from the Windsor Park strain. These deer did not do so well, perhaps because they were so very tame. Hector McLean, a runholder at Hawea, wrote to the Otago Acclimatisation Society in 1895, saying that'... snow has driven the deer down to the flats and they are quite tame ... One of the stags brought from Melbourne took shelter in my woolshed, where he was page 70 fed for a week.' Later, in 1901, one of these stags was found dead. Officially if had been shot by mistake, but the rumour was that it had been so tame that it had been a nuisance, following the settlers around and begging for food.
The original Scottish deer were very much admired, so much so that they were coveted by a certain Mr Shrimpton. William Shrimpton was the son-in-law of Gordon Rich, the man who owned Bushey Park at the time of the release of the nine calves there. Gordon Rich had been very interested in the liberation, to the extent of having'... a large enclosure, with a nice native bush of fair extent in it; the young deer assembled there and, as they had plenty of privacy, they did well and increased rapidly.' Shrimpton, who wrote this, was owner of Matapiro Station, Hawkes Bay. He wanted some of the animals for himself.
Rich and his son-in-law must have got along very well, for, during a visit nine or ten years after the liberation, Rich said jokingly that Shrimpton could have some of the animals if he could catch them. Shrimpton spent many hours devising ways and means, and eventually designed a trap which he set up in a turnip field. To Rich's surprise his son-in-law managed to catch three, a yearling stag and two hinds.
The three deer were put into crates and carted to Port Chalmers. There they were put on a coastal vessel to Napier, and then were carried to Matapiro Station, arriving there in good condition. Shrimpton had an enclosure ready for them, with a 2.5 metre fence. The following year he caught two or more hinds at Bushey Park, and carted them to Matapiro and the enclosure in the same fashion. When the small herd reached eleven deer he released them, but by then they were so tame that they remained in the area for quite some time.
Eventually they wandered along the gorge of the Ngaruroro River past Kaiwaka, and in the following years rapidly colonised the northern Ruahines, the eastern hills of the Kaimanawa Range, the Kaweka Range and northern Hawkes Bay up to the Urewera forest. It was observed that whenever the herd reached a fair size, some of the young stags would depart with a few hinds and set up small new herds, often a considerable distance away from the old herd. This probably accounts for the speed and distance they spread. They are very numerous now and extend as far north as Taupo.
During the 1890s and the first two decades of this century more well-organised liberations took place in the South Island. Markedly successful was the Rakaia herd, introduced by the Canterbury Acclimatisation Society.
The Canterbury body was one of the earliest acclimatisation societies, due perhaps, to the fact that the father of the colonisation of Canterbury, John Robert Godley, found that the plains gave him an irresistable urge to be on a horse and chasing things. He thought that the introduction of deer and hares for sport would be ideal, although after some deliberation he decided against importing foxes.
Godley promoted the idea of acclimatisation so strongly that the colonists who arrived in the William Hyde in 1852 brought some Muscovy ducks, some geese, a hen pheasant, a goat, and a fawn for Godley. The fawn having survived the perilous and uncomfortable journey, promptly died of fright while being ferried from ship to shore.
The Warrior Queen .
In 1870 seventeen young red deer were shipped to New Zealand from Scotland on consignment to the Otago Acclimatisation Society. The first lot, a shipment of eight, left on the City of Dunedin . Only six of these survived the voyage. The other nine left in November on the Warrior Queen , and arrived at Port Chalmers in February 1871, with all the animals in good condition. They had been in the care of Mr Charles Bills, who had travelled the journey with his father, Richard Bills. Richard had in his care a large cargo of small English birds, also for the Otago Society, and he created a sensation when he arrived in Dunedin with well over a thousand of these birds all alive and thriving.
This was not the first journey the Bills family had made in the Warrior Queen. Charles and Richard had arrived in Dunedin by this ship in 1866, when Charles was only fourteen years of age, and from then on both these men, together and individually, despite Charles' youth, made constant journeys back and forth between New Zealand and England, caring for birds on their own behalf and also on consignment for various acclimatisation societies.
The Warrior Queen was a fine frigate-built ship of 988 tons. She traded to Dunedin from 1865 to 1874, always making good time and never sustaining any serious damage.
In May 1864 the Provincial Government allowed the Society to use 1.6 hectares of land in the Domain, between the River Avon and the Public Hospital. The first curator was Mr A.M. Johnson, who was permitted the use of a cottage, and some enclosures for the new animal arrivals. In 1866 the Government granted four more hectares to the Society, with a 1.7 metre fence, intended for the holding of the newly arrived deer. The first deer to be placed in these grounds was a stag from Tasmania. After two days it demonstrated the leaping ability of the species by sailing over the fence and disappearing into the Riccarton bush. Following this the Society cared for a number of fallow deer brought over from Tasmania by Mr Caverhill, runholder of Cheviot.
After five years of caring for these beasts the Society was presented with a problem. The ownership of the grounds was always vague, and in 1874 the Society was asked to surrender part of the land. The area in question was that used for pasturing of the deer, which had to be removed before the enclosures could be handed over. R.C. Lamb, in his informative and very readable history of the Cantebury Society (later the North Canterbury Acclimatisation Society), Birds, Beasts and Fishes, gives an account of the rounding up of the animals, which had become quite wild and timid in the comparative freedom of their enclosure. At that time there was in Christchurch a kind of visiting entertainer, a South American named Antonio who was an expert in the use of the lassoo. 'Antonio sat on a fence in a corner of the enclosure,' Mr Lamb relates, 'where the deer had been herded together, and as they were driven past him he tried to lassoo them, but after an hour's fruitless effort he gave up.' He was probably much embarrassed by the loss of face, as a large crowd had gathered to enjoy the spectacle. 'The fifty or so people present, including boys from Christ's College and gardeners employed by the Domain Board, set about chasing the creatures and ran them down, managing to kill three of them in the process and to injure badly another two. Only three of the captive deer came through the frightening ordeal unscathed; but the Society had at least complied with the wishes of the Domain Board.'
By 1896, the desire within the Society to introduce some deer on its own account had reached fever heat. Rakaia Gorge was chosen as the venue, the idea being that the herd, after multiplying, would be able to spread out and blend with the Nelson and Otago herds. A member of the Society council, Mr Izard, was commissioned to purchase ten red deer on behalf of the Society during a projected visit to England, and was given a sum of £250 to spend on these and on partridges and pheasants.
The ten animals were bought at Stoke Park, an historic deer park near Windsor Castle. From there they were taken to Roxett Grange, Harrow, and prepared for shipment to New Zealand. The crates that were made for their journey were luxurious indeed, padded and upholstered. Nevertheless one of the hinds died while still on the wharf. The nine survivors were loaded onto the s.s. Waikato, and sailed on the 23rd February 1897.
The deer were quartered on the deck, under the forecastle head, with plenty of shelter, in secure pens. The voyage was a rough one, with great seas breaking over the forecastle at times, but the deer were comfortable and secure. The ship's carpenter spent a lot of time and trouble making sure that their quarters were satisfactory, and page 74 it is a good indication of the cooperative attitude of the shipping of that time that the owners, Shaw Savill and Albion Company, carried the deer freight-free.
The Waikato reached Port Chalmers in April, and stayed a few days to unload some cargo. While there, one of the hinds died, but in the meantime she had produced a healthy calf. When the ship arrived in Lyttelton Harbour, the deer were transferred to quarantine on Quail Island by tug, and the ferrying went without incident. There they stayed until October.
When they left the island they were ferried by tug again, and their crates were put on railway wagons and taken first to Christchurch and then to Wilberforce 120 kilometres further on. Bruce Banwell relates in Red Stags of the Rakaia that one of the men involved with the cartage was a contractor named Holland, the father of Sidney Holland who became Prime Minister of New Zealand almost 60 years later. He also retells an anecdote about the man who was told to water the deer and who returned
Deer parks were set up in England in medieval times to protect the hunting interests of the nobility. As farming lands increased in area, parts of the forest were enclosed so that the peasantry could not get at the deer. For many years one had to have the King's Permission before one could build oneself a park to keep his Royal Animal, but after the Restoration this was not necessary.
The parks were originally places to hunt deer, but they evolved into sanctuaries where deer were kept for herd improvement by controlled breeding, and as decorative adjuncts to castles and manor houses.
The park in the photograph is Home Park, at Hampton Court Palace.
from his task saying that the deer wouldn't drink. Although experienced with stock he was for some reason terrified of the deer, and instead of going into the crates with a pail of water, poked it through the slats in a greasy frying pan.
The crates were transferred at the railway yards onto a big wool wagon drawn by a team of eight horses and transported out to the Rakaia gorge where they were opened on a shingle bank. The deer did not make a timid entry onto the land—they leaped high in the air and bounded around. Being by this time very tame, some of them followed the wagon until it crossed the river. They did not leave the general area for some years, but by 1905 had spread well up the valley. In the 1906 Society report it was observed that 'the red deer turned out in the Rakaia gorge are doing well and increasing rapidly. On one occasion forty were seen in one mob.' The Society settled down with satisfaction to the prospect of issuing hunting licences.
After 1900 the Government became very involved in the liberation of deer in all parts of New Zealand, through the Department of Tourist and Health Resorts. Small game parks were set up in various areas to hold captured animals until it was time to release them. One-such was established at Waikanae in 1898: the Paraparaumu Game Park. It was administered by the Wellington Acclimatisation Society, and when the Government became interested in taking deer from one part of New Zealand and putting them in another, it entered into a business arrangement with the Society by which the Society captured calves in the Wairarapa, raised them at the Game Farm, and then passed on half of them to the Tourist Department. Business was so brisk that in 1907 the Game Farm was 6 hectares, enlarged to 10 hectares in 1909, and then to 24 hectares in 1910.
As can be deduced from some of the previous accounts, catching and transporting adult deer is a hazardous business—not many stalkers had the resource and motivation of William Shrimpton. It was found that it was easier to take very young calves and rear them by hand. Stags that are hand-reared become very tame, but are notoriously unreliable and likely to turn aggressive. One famous hand-reared calf was Billy, who became quite a public character because of his mischievous personality. He had the habit of chasing people as the whim took him, and in the end became such a nuisance that he was driven with some cattle to Wairongomai Station near the Tararuas, in the hope that he would take to the mountains. Instead he loitered round the homestead, pursuing dairymaids and terrorising pedestrians. One day he took after a cyclist, who pedalled frantically for a while and then abandoned his machine, making a mad dash for a tree. The unfortunate man perched up in the branches for quite some time, watching Billy reduce his bicycle to scrap.
Such was the commotion that the Wellington Acclimatisation Society was forced to do something about the situation. Billy was run into a cattle yard, subjected to the indignity of having his antlers sawn off, and sent by train to the Tongariro National Park where he was released. He then took upon himself the job of patrolling the coach route between Waiouru and Tokaanu, becoming so famous that a Mr Malcolm Ross tried to photograph him. Billy promptly charged the poor man, who dropped everything and ran for his life.
Soon after this Billy encountered a Maori boy on horseback and made his playful dash at him. The boy galloped back to his village at Tokaanu, shrieking that he had met the devil. His people turned out to see this legendary creature and tried to catch page 76 him, getting knocked down for their pains. The next day Billy gored a Maori woman of the village. This was the last straw. The Maoris shot Billy and burned his carcass, after cutting off his head and sticking it on a pole. The pole was put on the side of the road at Tokaanu, as a warning to other stags to behave themselves.
The term for a young red deer is, technically, a calf. The word 'fawn' is used for a baby fallow deer. A male fallow deer is not a stag but a buck. The first fallow deer in New Zealand came from Richmond Park, Surrey, in 1864. They were released in Nelson, and, despite being pestered as much as their unfortunate red relatives in the same area, they acclimatised satisfactorily. In 1867 the Otago Acclimatisation Society obtained four fallow deer from Australia, and, in 1869, twelve more from England. These were released near Tapanui, and were the ancestors of the present herd there.
In 1876 thirty fallow deer were shipped by Mr Falconer Larkworthy from London on the Thurland Castle, most of them from Carshalton Park, Surrey. Twenty-eight of the deer survived the journey and were landed in Auckland. They were released in the Waikato and Wanganui districts. They acclimatised quickly, and thrived well.
In 1875 Mr Larkworthy imported two sambur deer from Ceylon and released them on his estate in the Rangatikei district. The male was very tame and hung around the homestead. The local press sent a reporter round to see him, but it was a sunny afternoon and the stag was enjoying a snooze. The reporter, filled with confidence after hearing all the stories of the animal's docility, gave him a hearty kick to make him get up and show himself. The stag rose with a roar, and the last sight of the reporter was of a frantic figure diving over a fence and into a gorse bush. However, the pair of deer bred, and were the ancestors of the fair-sized herd that is found in the Manawatu district today.
Adaptation of deer to new conditions
It has definitely been proved, according to Donne, that red deer transferred from England to New Zealand take two years to adapt themselves to the change of season. This shows up in erratic rut and calving, and in aberrant shedding of antlers and time of new growth. In Britain, red deer start to rut about the 20th of September, while in New Zealand the season begins about the 20th of March. The rutting season, of course, determines antler shedding and calving time.
In 1907-08 Donne observed this process of adaptation in two stags and four hinds, all four years old, which were shipped to New Zealand from Warnham Court Park. Two of the hinds died on the journey, and the rest were placed in the Paraparaumu Game Farm.
In April the stags came out of the bush with clean antlers and began roaring on the 2nd of May. These antlers were not fully developed and were smaller than their previous antlers; little wonder, considering that they had grown two sets of antlers in one year.
The two hinds calved in April, the progeny of the September rut in England. In 1909 they calved again, in February, two months early for British conditions, and two months late for New Zealand conditions. By 1910 they had adapted, and calved at the normal New Zealand time.
The first fallow deer introduced into New Zealand came from Richmond Park, Surrey, in 1864. They were released in the Aniseed Valley, near Nelson, and acclimatised well, being hunted with some persistence but managing to avoid extermination. In 1867 the Otago Acclimatisation Society obtained four fallow deer from Australia and in the 1870s a few fallow deer were imported from Tasmania into Southland.
In 1876 Mr Larkworthy presented another pair of sambur deer to the Auckland Acclimatisation Society. The female died, and the male moped around the society grounds, occasionally chasing people to vent his frustrations. He once attacked a gardener, who promptly overturned his big wheelbarrow and crawled to safety underneath it. Mr Larkworthy sent to Colombo for a mate for this stag, and the pair were released in the Waikato, where they multiplied. Early this century the Tourist Department obtained more sambur, some from New Caledonia, and some from the original herd in the Manawatu. These were all released in the Rotorua area.
The axis, or spotted deer, is a native of India and Ceylon. J. A. Ewen, the man who in 1870 organised the importation of red deer from Invermark to Otago, in 1867 took seven axis deer from Melbourne to Otago. These deer had originally come from Calcutta; Gordon Rich released them on his station at Bushey Park. Ten years later the herd had grown to about fifty head, and was being such a nuisance eating out crops that the settlers shot them all. At the same time there were other small populations in parts of the country: a pair running around at the end of Tinakori Road in Wellington (the buck was shot as he developed the habit of butting pedestrians), two at Signal Hill, Bluff, two on Kapiti island (liberated on the Game and Bird Sanctuary by the Wellington Acclimatisation Society) and three in Otago. In 1906 two males and three females were liberated on behalf of the Government in the Tongariro National Park. And in 1907 six more were released at Dusky Sound, Fiordland National Park.
The male of a moose is called a bull, and the female, a cow. This is probably because of their relatively large size: a well-grown bull moose reaches over two metres at the shoulder. The animal is a north American native, so when, in 1898, Sir James Carroll decided to import moose into New Zealand, he opened up correspondence with the Premier of Canada. In the following year the Hudson Company advised the New Zealand Government that they had fourteen moose ready for shipment. They were loaded in January 1900, on the s.s. Aorangi. The ship encountered very heavy weather. The quarters forward in the ship, where the moose were travelling, were repeatedly flooded. Ten of the moose died and their carcasses were thrown overboard. The four surviving calves, providentially two of each sex, arrived safely in Wellington in February. The only reason they had come through the ordeal was that their caretaker, a Mr McDonald, had taken desperate measures.
'While the storm was raging,' he reported to the New Zealand Government, T appealed to the Captain, asking him if no arrangements could be made to save those still living and offering to pay for any extra accommodation. After consulting with the Chief Officer, the four moose were removed to a mail room, and a cabin between the saloon passengers' cabins and officers' cabins. Had this not been done I question if any could have been saved, as little could be done owing to the severity of the storm.'
The four survivors were housed in stables opposite the Old Parliamentary Buildings. They were very tame and affectionate. Meekness however did not have its just reward, as they had to face another rough journey, by coastal steamer to Greymouth. Then they went to Hokitika by train and were housed in more stables.
Some days later they were carried 32 kilometres into the country by dray, the last 10 kilometres being very bumpy: they were probably unable to believe their luck when they were finally released.
The two bulls and one cow went into the Hokitika Gorge, but the other cow, a very friendly animal, remained around the town of Koiterangi. Over a period of fourteen years she became quite a local identity. She was fond of sugar and followed people about, hoping for tidbits. Donne relates a story about a stranger in town, a gold-digger strung about with all his implements who, walking in the twilight, suddenly found himself being followed by an incredible animal. He broke into a run, but the cow kept up easily, so he started throwing off his gear, billy clattering in one direction, gold-pan in another, in the hope of lightening his load and running faster. In the end he scaled a tree. The moose, bewildered, hung around the bottom, so the poor fellow had to stay up there all night. When he got down next morning, much aggrieved, the locals laughed at his story, so he wrote an angry letter to Donne (who was General Manager of the Tourist Department, and responsible for all government liberations) complaining bitterly about 'your moose'.
In 1907 Donne recommended that more moose should be obtained. These, a group of ten sent from Canada in 1909, arrived in Wellington in good condition. The Government steam-yacht Hinemoa, used extensively for animal liberations at that time, took them to Dusky Sound where they were liberated.
The largest member of the deer family is the wapiti. Like the moose it is a native of north America. The person who organised the exchange of wapiti for some native birds and tuatara was no less than the American President, Theodore Roosevelt. Because of previous dealings with the President, in 1909 Donne was able to negotiate for twenty wapiti, nineteen Virginia deer and five mule deer, together with birds such as Canada geese, snow geese, and various ducks. This large assortment of livestock was assembled at the National Zoo at Washington. Crates were made for them all and they were loaded into two steam-heated train wagons, together with all their provisions. The journey to San Francisco went smoothly but then difficulties arose: the ship ordered was not waiting for them and they were shipped instead on the open deck of another vessel. Three of the Virginia deer died of gastroenteritis; two of the wapiti died of broken backs sustained in rough weather.
On reaching New Zealand the wapiti were carried by the Hinemoa to Fiordland National Park, where they were released. The Virginia deer were liberated on Stewart Island and at Lake Wakatipu, while one buck was sent to Nelson to supplement two couples imported in 1901. The mule deer were released in Hawkes Bay.
The dainty little Sika deer is a relatively recent arrival, although the Otago Acclimatisation Society attempted to acclimatise some in 1885. This first herd was apparently shot out. In 1904 the Duke of Bedford presented six of these small deer, bred at Woburn Abbey, to the people of New Zealand. The species is a little bigger than the Japanese sika deer, and is known as the Manchurian deer—the Duke imported the parents of his herd from Manchuria in 1898. The six deer, three bucks and three does, were shipped in five crates from London in the s.s. Kaikoura. Two
A steam yacht at one's disposal
On the first of August 1877 Mr G. S. Cooper, the Under Secretary of the Marine Department, was asked to supply a Return to an Order of the House of Representatives, which requested details of the cost of the Government Steam Yacht Hinemoa . The contract price for this yacht was £23 500, declared Mr Cooper, and the price for extras, ordered at the British shipyard, was £1 828.18.2d, so that, with cartage fees, the total cost of the ship, landed in New Zealand, was twenty-nine thousand, five hundred and eighty seven pounds, fifteen shillings and one penny. 'She is not insured,' he added.
There must have been some fluttering in the benches over the cost of this yacht, plus her sister ship, the Tutanekai , as another Order was issued in the same month. This was answered by the captain, Mr John Fairchild, who wrote, crisply, that the Hinemoa was 'always carrying mails, lifting buoys, surveying and taking soundings and assisting vessels in distress. The charges that I have made for what the Hinemoa has done,' he added, 'are less than one half of what the Government would have had to pay if they had chartered steamers to do any of the work that the Hinemoa has done.'
If a Government has a couple of steam yachts at its disposal, then no doubt there will always be questions about whether Members are taking over these yachts for frivolous purposes—Sir George Grey, the Premier, certainly did use the Hinemoa to cart various dignitaries and important visitors to view his menagerie at his island of Kawau. Later, Donne also used the Hinemoa freely during his time of influence in Parliament (through his great friend Sir Joseph Ward) and in 1905 the yacht carried 18 wapiti to George Sound, Fiordland; in 1909 it was used again by Donne to ferry ten moose from Wellington to Dusky Sound.
However, the Hinemoa certainly did do a great deal in the line of'assisting vessels in distress'. In 1878 she rescued passengers from the wreck of the City of Auckland and later carried them from Otaki, where the ship had foundered on the beach, and ferried them to Napier. In 1892 she returned to the same beach on a mission of reclamation— another ship, the Weatherfield, had foundered there four years previously, and the Hinemoa helped haul off the well-grounded ship and tow her away.
fawns were born on the voyage, but only one survived. They were released near Taupo, on the northern Kaimanawa Range. Their acclimatisation was particularly successful. Sika deer are now common on a 250 000 hectare area around the liberation point, and have been reported over an area estimated at 1.1 million hectares. They are more able than red deer to subsist in sparse forest, so thrive in areas where red deer become run down in condition. Their venison is reputedly delicious.
Chamois and thar (or tahr) are usually thought of as being types of deer, but the chamois are more accurately antelopes, and the thar are true goats, except that the females have four teats. The chamois is a mountain dweller found in the more mountainous parts of Europe, while the thar is a native of northern India.
The first enquiries regarding the importation of chamois was made by Sir Julius von Haast in 1888, but it was not until 1901, when the Department of Tourist and page 81 Health Resorts was established, that any real attempt to introduce the animals was made. Donne's motivation was that extending the variety of game animals would improve New Zealand's claim to being a sportsman's paradise, to 'induce the world traveller to include New Zealand in his itinerary'.
In 1905 the Austrian Panther visited Wellington, and Rear-Admiral Ludwig Ritter von Hohnel, in command, visited Donne and enquired whether it would be possible for him to obtain some live native birds for his country. Donne helped him greatly in this matter, and when Ritter von Hohnel asked whether there was any favour he could do in return, Donne mentioned his desire to import some chamois. In 1906 the New Zealand Government received a communication from Ritter von Hohnel, thanking them for the specimens for the menagerie at Schonbrun, and reporting that His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Austria was graciously pleased to send six chamois does and two bucks, taken from the Imperial Crown Lands at Neuberg, for page 82 the disposal of the New Zealand Government. Donne was told later that the catching of the animals had been a great to-do involving an army of gamekeepers, hunters and soldiers. They drove about three hundred chamois down from the mountains, killing over thirty in the process. Of these eight were selected, and were placed in special quarters where they were gradually conditioned for the voyage to New Zealand. Presumably the rest of the chamois were returned to the mountains.
In 1904 the Duke of Bedford selected six Himalayan thar from his herd and presented them to the New Zealand Government. The Duke imported the parents of these thar from India in 1897, and the animals he sent to New Zealand were bred by him at Woburn Abbey.
The thar were carried on the s.s. Corinthic, under the care of the ship's butcher. Five arrived well and thriving; there had been some excitement on board, as the sixth thar had got loose and had been chased around all over the decks until it rushed over the side of the ship. The five survivors were quarantined on Soames Island, and then liberated in the Mount Cook district. They took to the mountains and thrived.page 83
After this confinement the animals were put on board a train to Ostend. It was a hazardous journey, as the train was snowed up in Switzerland for several days, and caught fire some time after that. At Ostend the crates were transferred to the steamer Allouette, which collided with another steamer in fog at the Port of London and had its stern smashed in. In London yet another problem presented itself, as the British authorities would not allow the animals ashore for quarantine. In the end they were quarantined on a barge in the river.
In 1907 the eight chamois were transferred to the s.s. Turakina, together with a mountain of fodder which included two tons of hay, carrots, wurzels, bran, barley, and oats. The crates were placed on the foredeck, arranged in a square with netting over the top so the animals had a sort of exercise yard. In the tropics an awning was set up to shade them. They reached New Zealand in March, and were liberated at Mount Cook in splendid condition.
The thar arrived as yet another gift from the Duke of Bedford: in 1904 he selected eight from his herd at Woburn and presented them to the New Zealand Government. Two of the animals did not make the journey, escaping just before they were shipped. The six remaining were shipped in five crates on the s.s. Corinthic, in charge of the ship's butcher. One male got loose on board, and leaped over the side, but the others reached New Zealand in good condition, and were liberated, like the chamois later, in the Mount Cook district. In 1909, the Duke made another gift, of six male and two female thar, four axis deer, three llamas and six rheas. These animals were all shipped on the s.s. Wakanui, and the thar all arrived safely to be released at Mount Cook, to join the earlier group. One of the kids refused to become acclimatised, preferring the kitchen of the Hermitage Hotel as its habitat, but the rest spread freely.
Both chamois and thar thrived in their new conditions, soon increasing in both numbers and territory. Ten years after the first liberation twenty chamois were seen in one herd, and in the early twenties guides in the area estimated this herd to number at least a hundred.
Donne published The Game Animals of New Zealand, the definitive book on the introduction and acclimatisation of this group of exotic intruders, in 1924. His work is characterised by enthusiasm and dedication, and he makes a plea for the protection of game animals in New Zealand. 'Nature neglected New Zealand in providing game animals,' he writes. 'Man has remedied the situation. Nature will do her part in supporting them; let man do his part in protecting them.'
Even then his sentiments were unfashionable. In 1922 a forester, Mr A. N. Perham, produced a report on the deer problem in New Zealand, which was tabled in the House of Representatives. After describing the habits of the animal, and pointing out that it consumed a very wide range of vegetable food, including anything that was eaten by domestic stock, and all palatable species of scrub and young forest trees. He went on to say, 'Deer are taking a part in the depletion of much of the indigenous flora of the mountains.' He continued in a similar serious vein, concluding that 'the time (will be) very shortly reached when irreparable damage is done and the mountains become denuded of their flora, allowing free access to the agencies which cause erosion.' page 85 Public concern was growing to the extent that in 1923 the Native Bird Protection Society was established by Captain Sanderson. The following year, in the Society's sixth Bulletin, an article was published by a foundation member, J. G. Myers. In it he said:
'Deer, introduced and fostered for the pleasure of an infinitesimal minority, have committed many thousands of pounds worth of damage to our indigenous forests, and so the process goes on . . . shall introductions continue until not a vestige of the real New Zealand exists outside the pages of history!'
The Government was becoming aware of public feeling. In 1923 the Tourist Department cancelled its agreement with the Wellington Acclimatisation Society. From that year on, not only was the Government stopping its own liberations: no calves at all could be released without the consent of the Minister of Internal Affairs. The Paraparaumu Game Reserve, the place where so many calves had been raised, had to close. Eighteen of the Game Park deer were shot in 1924, and twenty-three in 1925. In 926 all the remaining deer were yarded, and some were shot. The rest leapt the fences and escaped into the Paraparaumu Forest Reserve. In a foreshadowing of an industry of the future, the venison from the shot deer was processed and sent to the United States to be sold.
In 1927 the State Forest Service, disturbed by the depredations in forests by the deer, succeeded in having the protection of deer in State Forests removed; in 1929 they culled over ten thousand animals. In 1930 protection was completely removed.
Up until that time shooting licences, restricted to a few months of the year, were sold by the acclimatisation societies at a substantial profit. When the licence was bought, the hunter was given the appropriate number of metal tags to attach to trophy heads. While the need for culling was recognised, the acclimatisation societies were the ones responsible for administering it, so that when they were unable to reduce numbers significantly it led to a controversy between the Native Bird Protection Society and Mr Tripp, the president of the Acclimatisation Societies Association. An appeal was made to the Government to take some sort of stance on the issue.
The Hon. Mr P. A. de la Perrelle, then Minister of Internal Affairs, appeased members of the Native Bird Protection Society by stating that 'at the moment the Department of Internal Affairs was in communication with the acclimatisation societies in the hope of receiving suggestions as to the best method of dealing with the problem.' The Minister went on to add that 'it appeared to him that the time had come for permission to be given for deer to be shot at all times.'
The Department of Internal Affairs initiated a deer control programme. To head it they chose Major Frank Yerex, a man who, not inappropriately, was an expert in jungle warfare. Later he became head of the Wildlife Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs. In the years 1931-35 a hundred thousand deer were destroyed, with little effect on the deer population.
In 1935 the deer threat was debated in the Legislative Council. It was moved that '....the Government should take active and effective steps to exterminate the deer and wild goats which are doing irreparable damage to our native forests, many of which, if not more seriously protected, will inevitably be destroyed.' Later that year the page 86 Executive of the New Zealand Acclimatisation Societies, by now very aware of the controversy, joined a deputation of bodies involved in conservation, headed by Mr Leigh Hunt, which met with the Minister of Internal Affairs. As part of his address Mr Leigh Hunt said:
'From time immemorial, the forest growth in New Zealand has been free from browsing animals until about the latter part of the last century, when deer and other animals were introduced into New Zealand and turned into the national forests . . . 'The climate is ideal, and there is an entire absence of natural enemies. The increase of these animals has, therefore, been phenomenal, and, unless they are checked, our magnificent forests are doomed to extinction. . . . Unless the present menace is checked, the historian of the future will be compelled to write us down as a race of callous vandals, and those who come after us undoubtedly will curse us for our apathy. These are strong words, but they honestly express what we believe.'
Since then hundreds of thousands of deer have been captured or killed. But today the problem is still with us. Complete eradication of deer populations is obviously impossible, and indeed, undesirable. New Zealand still benefits from the tourist potential that a watershed of trophy stock, living in a uniquely scenic landscape, gives. It is most unlikely that the population explosion of the past will happen again; pressure of commercial hunting will make sure of that. If venison harvesters concentrate on the female deer for their carcasses, then stag numbers will be kept down by tourist and recreational hunters. The commercial value of the meat,skins and by-products is undeniable: in these times of economic hardship the export value of venison, hides, antlers and their velvet, and testicles and sinews, cannot be overlooked. The management of deer for profit is an established industry and one with an enormous potential for the future.