Governments Need To Value Outdoor Recreation
Author of hunting and fishing books Tony Orman of Marlborough has hit out at governments for their lack of respect for
the outdoors and the environment.
“We should be encouraging young New Zealanders into the outdoors. But sadly government priorities and policies don’t
give incentive but even spawn disincentives by way of exploitation policies,” said Tony Orman, a former president of the
NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers and former chairman of the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations.
One impediment to access to the outdoors was increasing foreign ownership of New Zealand farms resulting in locked
gates in contrast to formerly when most Kiwi farming families willingly granted access.
Rivers that youngsters once swam and fished in, have had flows depleted by irrigation for corporate dairying. In turn,
nitrates and other pollution have fouled water quality.
“Alarmingly 61 percent of NZ’s lowland rivers are rated unfit for swimming.”
Young New Zealanders are losing their connection with the outdoors while youth obesity, mental health and suicide rates
are unacceptably high for a country of just 4.6 million people.
Sadly today some youths often just in their early teens, were committing heinous crimes or indulged in senseless
vandalism and irresponsible behaviour. Because of a mixture of boredom, bewilderment and a feeling of helplessness,
youngsters were lashing out. Their confidence for the future was often uncertain and self-esteem frequently low.
“Young people have energies to burn which if not channelled down the right path, have the potential to go awry,” said
For youngsters the outdoors was an indispensable class-room. The sweet success of catching a trout or perhaps a kahawai,
shooting a rabbit, climbing a mountain or canoeing a river were personal achievments which importantly built self-esteem
“Besides tramping, fishing and hunting encourage observation, analytical reasoning and a respect for Nature”.
In New Zealand’s egalitarian society, anyone can fish or hunt. It was a legacy the first European settlers instilled
into the new colony in order to escape the feudal system of Britain where for example, the best trout fishing,
deerstalking or pheasant shooting is the preserve of the wealthy minority.
“In effect, in New Zealand the kid down the street may go trout fishing on equal terms and rights as the city’s top
solicitor, doctor, baker and the candlestick maker or even the Governor General or Prime Minister. Indeed at least two
former Prime Ministers have been keen fishermen. The late Jack Marshall a National government PM, was a very keen trout
fisherman. The much respected Labour government PM Norman Kirk was a pig hunter in his younger days and an ardent
Tony Orman contended New Zealand could do with a few more practical keen fishing hunting persons - male and female - in
A Horizon survey of sporting participation rates in 2012 showed fishing had more than five times more people
participating than rugby. Twenty-six percent enjoyed fishing while just five percent played rugby.
When it came to “getting off the couch”, 25.5 percent of adult men and 18 percent of women fished while with youth,
about 35 percent went fishing.
Much needed was government recognition and protection of the value of outdoors and outdoor recreation to society.