Philip Irwin – The Deer Industry

Joyce Barry: Welcome everyone, thank you again for turning out. We’ve had Philip sitting among this audience for over a year and we didn’t realise, and yet he’s this little mine of information about the deer industry. I don’t know anything about deer other than I remember it being a very sexy industry at one stage, but I knew it was still ticking over, so hearing about it tonight, Philip, will be fantastic.

Philip is local, lives in Clive, and he was PGG Wrightson’s Deer Manager ‘til – what year, Philip?

Philip: 2006.

Joyce: Really, really looking forward to hearing about deer, Philip. Thank you. [Applause]

Philip: Thanks very much. Firstly, I’ll just … seeing nobody knows me too well in this part of the world, just a little bio of myself. I was born in Mataura … I’m a Southlander … and went to Brown School, and then the Fielding … and that’s another story, which [is how I] come [came] to be educated at Fielding High School, or Agricultural High School.

So we farmed in Southland until I was twenty year[s] old, and then we shifted to the North Island to a much bigger property at Alfredton in northern Wairarapa. And when the farm was sold in 1969 I joined Wright Stephenson as an agent, and had a year in Masterton, then eight years in Martinborough. And because of the wine, probably should’ve stayed there. [Chuckles] And then got transferred to Nelson in ‘78 as a livestock manager, and that’s where I got into the deer job in 1980; then was transferred up here in Hawke’s Bay in 1984 to look after the deer procurement in the East Coast as an agent – mostly as venison procurement, ‘cause Wrightson’s had a venison division at that stage. And then in 1988 with the Dalgety merger, I became the velvet manager until 2006, when at the PGG [Pyne Gould Guinness] merger, I finished. And then, since 2006 to ’11 I worked for a company called Deer Improvement who do AI [artificial insemination] in deer, and I’ll touch on that a little bit later.

So, deer in New Zealand. What I’m going to do, I’m going to go right back to the start – ‘cause it is a historical thing – of what happened, how they got here and where they are throughout New Zealand. So that’s what I’m doing.

The first release was in Nelson in … originally, all the deer came here for recreational hunting. The first were always red deer, and they’re about ninety percent of the present population of deer. The first release was in Nelson in 1854. Um, the next release was in the Rakaia Headquarters in 1887. The first North Island release was at Carterton in 1863. Hawke’s Bay had eight releases from 1885 through to 1923, and they were nearly all on the Mahia Peninsula and in the Wairoa area. [Shows slides]

And this is just showing you where all the releases – and this is up until about 1910 – where all those releases were. There was [were] only two hundred and fifty animals really bought in, and they were just bought in and put out in small areas. That’s the North Island … in the North Island they were a bit later. Most of the North Island deer were farmed at Paraparam [Paraparaumu], and then distributed from there. So they must have really found them with big fences in those days as well. This is the varieties that were released:

  • The Wapiti, which is the big animal, were in Fiordland in 1870
  • The Fallow were in Nelson in 1864
  • Sika in Taupo in 1905 and there’s still fairly strong Sika in that area
  • Rusa – there’s still a few at Galatea
  • The Sambar at Bulls – and there they’re protected, the Sambar. They’re protected on one farm at Bulls, which they originally went to, and a farm at a Rotorua.
  • The Whitetail of course, are at Stewart Island – they’re the only deer on Stewart Island
  • And Chamois and Tahr, which … I don’t know when [they] were released, but they were imported as well … which are in the high-country and the mountains in the South Island
  • And the moose, in the Dusky Sound in 1909, and they’re still trying to re-find them, ‘cause they believe they’re there; [chuckles] there’s a few guys still hear them

Most of the early reds were introduced from Scottish and English parks. They were nearly all young deer that come [came] out. And they must’ve been one hell of a resilient deer, because they had very few losses recorded on board ships, and that was a seventy-day trip. And they were mostly fed carrots, I understand. So they were very re[silient] – it’s no wonder they’ve done so well in New Zealand when they got here, because food was abundant. And as I say, the three main herds in the South Island are in Nelson, Rakaia, and in the Otago.

Acclimatisation Societies were formed real early on. The Wellington one was very strong. And these groups imported most of the deer, and they were supported by the Government Tourist [Tourism] Department. And there were a lot of liberations from the, from the stock in Wellington. So the Acclimatisation Societies operated under the broad control of Internal Affairs and the Marine Department, and in 1990, which is not that long ago, these were displaced by regional Fish and Game Councils.

The people who introduced the deer changed their views about every decade or so as to whether they were a benefit or a problem. In 1990 there was a distinct split of groups – those that wanted them for trophies, and those that wanted them for hunting and to shoot mainly for food supply.

In the remote parts of Fiordland in the early 1900s it was reported that you could walk up to within of ten metres – or ten yards – of a deer … [?] deer … in those remote places, because the hunters didn’t venture into that area, and they were extremely quiet.

The first hunting licences were issued in 1882; as happened in England, you had to get a licence to hunt in 1882, and they cost £1 [a pound]. And they cost £5 [pound] if they wanted to sell the venison. And as late as 1917 the open season for hunting was only for one month. And it was interesting, in some areas you could hunt anywhere and anytime, as long as it was with hounds, and that was right up until just after First World War.

The 1920s were regarded as the golden years of hunting in New Zealand. In 1924 there was a hundred and twenty top heads taken to London for the Wembley Exhibition – you’ve probably seen those. By the end of the 1920s it was realised that the fauna throughout New Zealand was getting seriously damaged. And interestingly, those heads that went to Wembley, they were measured each side for length, and in today’s measurements – and there’s been some of those old heads in New Zealand measured – they would only score about 140 and I’ll show you some of them later, whereas our top trophy heads now score well over 700, it just shows you the advancement there’s been.

In 1930 they realised that the fauna was being so seriously damaged they had to do something about it. So in 1930 there was a Deer Menace Conference held in Christchurch – as you can imagine, that was a reasonably good name for it. And that year, from that conference the Government introduced its deer control programme, and the cullers started work. Prior to this there’d been some major culls by farmers to protect their grazing land. In 1925 the Otago Acclimatisation Society culled sixteen hundred and twenty-two deer in the Hunter and Makaroa Valleys in the central Otago. This brought their total kill for that year to seven thousand three hundred and sixty-nine, which they thought would satisfy farmers close to those areas, and protect. And this was controlling expansion, but it never did – there was just so much feed.

The Acclimatisation Society kept encouraging farmers and shooters to take up the offer of a bounty. In 1920s they estimated that in Otago alone they shot forty-seven thousand deer. And I put the South Island, but it was actually mainly in Otago. And the bounty I believe at that stage, was two shillings [2/-] a tail. So they were getting paid for it. Now two shillings a tail in those days was pretty good money.

So as I say, the Government cullers started work in West Otago in [the] 1930s, and they were paid three pound ten shillings [£3/10/-] a week … seven bucks in today’s money … and they had to find their own food and clothing. They were issued with pre-war Lee Enfield .303s, and they were allowed three rounds per skin for skins retrieved. No skin, no money. And they were getting sixpence [6d] a skin, so fifteen cents each. And in 1945 this was dropped, and the tails were then taken as a token. And that’s what the cullers got. There were some terrible accidents I understand from cullers with those old rifles, they were really old.

As I say, they had to recover all the skins, and the West Coast – the deer were so thick they ate out all the vegetation. I have seen some photos and actually couldn’t find one, of where under the vegetation … underneath the bush … on the West Coast, was just bare. All you had was trees. That was the mess the deer made in those days.

[Shows photo] There’s some of the cullers … and there’s some more cullers in the early 1950s – that was actually in the Ruahines that that photo was taken. As I say – the West Coast, they ate out the vegetation. Also in the Southern Lakes area, goats had become a problem, and in 1946 cullers were paid to cull them. And in 1946 alone they shot sixteen thousand goats in the Central Otago area. And it’s quite interesting down there now. At Glenorchy, on the eastern side as you go up on the eastern side of Glenorchy, is predominantly a lot of wild goats. On the western side there’s virtually none. There’s a lot of Fallow deer, and the Red and Wapiti, but in the wild there’s virtually no goats on that side. But there’s a lot of goats, so goats are still a problem on the eastern side of Glenorchy.

In 1956 the Internal Affairs who deer cullers worked for – they killed fifty-six thousand, and the Forest Service, thirty-five thousand. So there was ninety-one thousand deer shot by cullers in 1956, and that was an amazing thirty thousand more than the year before. It was absolutely … that just showed you the numbers that were there.

I went shooting in the Glenorchy areas – we had an uncle who had a farm there in 1955, and the first night we went out on a swede crop and just shined a spotlight on, and it was just … a huge mob of deer sitting there. We went up to help some cullers who we knew who were driving the goats out. They were getting two bob [two shillings] a tail for goats. And we … in the five days there, six of us shot five hundred goats. That just showed you the numbers that were there, and it was no wonder that the flora and fauna was getting absolutely hammered. [Shows photo] That’s a culler with a big Wapiti stag somewhere. I’ve covered that area, and … yeah.

In 1956 the Forest Service took over control; and in 1956 the Noxious Animals Act gave the Forest Service much greater powers. In 1958 there was a major conference of all interested parties, and this became known as the ‘1080 Conference, and you wonder why. You’ll know why, and that’s where 1080 was introduced into New Zealand – really not to kill the deer at that stage, but it was being looked to as an option. In 1957 when there were sixty-two and a half thousand deer killed – by 1976, this number had dropped to seven thousand. And the main reason was there’d become a shortage of cullers, and helicopters had started to shoot in the easier country.

In 1958 we saw the first use of helicopters for getting building materials into the high country. And there’s … Tim Wallis [shows photo] is with one of the early helicopters that he had and used. There they are – there’s a whole lot of carcasses there on the hill. But before that … just to show you the use of the helicopter … from ’58 through ‘til 1972, which was fourteen-odd years, on state land they built … I think I’ve got the numbers here somewhere … yeah. Six hundred and forty-four huts; thirty-six shelters; twenty-six vehicle bridges; [a] hundred and forty-two foot bridges; twenty-four cableways; vehicle fords; roads; four wheel drive tracks and walking tracks, and the main way that they were able to was the use of the helicopter.

The expansion of commercial deer recovery from the helicopter guys came with a demand for venison and velvet – but especially for velvet, because at that stage of it velvet was very attractive to the Asians. To some extent there was also demand for deer by-products like tails, pizzles, sinews and eye-teeth.

In the late 1950s we saw the start of fixed-wing planes flying into the big, broad expanses on the river beds in the South Island, and the shooters were bringing the animals down and they were flying them out, mainly to Christchurch, for the venison to be processed. [Shows photo] That was one guy coming down, but the jet boats had come in by then and they were starting to bring them down the river in jet boats, and this was a really attractive way to get them, as I say.

The late fifties the first fixed-wing planes … [they] were using them down there. In 1968 a Hawke’s Bay man, Goodwin McNutt from Waipuk [Waipukurau], went into the head of the Ngaruroro [River] and brought out seventy-five live animals by fixed-wing plane. He also brought out a lot of carcasses. And he was also reputed to be the first man to [do] what was called bull-dogging – jumping out of a helicopter to catch a deer. He was regarded as the first man to do it. For quite some time that was a method with the helicopters of catching venison, so the bull-dogging was a method.

The first use of a helicopter for actually catching live deer was in 1963 when Wally Cameron said to Wallis and Robert Wilson, who was the major owner of Wilson Neill … they started off realising that ‘if we keep shooting all these animals, we’re going to have none left, and so we’re going to have start farming them specially for velvet’, because velvet was getting pretty high in money.

So in 1964 … ’65, Tim Wallis invested everything he had in a Bell 47 helicopter. And he had a company called Alpine Helicopters, and Luggate Game Packers. In ’67, Alpine … [shows photo] – this just shows you the number of deer that were around – Helicopters in a ten-day period took out a thousand deer from the Shotover, and in one day one helicopter took two hundred and forty-five from the Branches Station at Queenstown. So it was just absolutely huge numbers.

But the worst to come from this by 1986 was there were two hundred and one recorded crashes, a hundred serious incidents, and there were seventeen pilots and twenty-five crew lost their lives up until 1986. So it had a cost. As I said, they realised that they had to start farming them to be able to get a continuing business.

[Shows photo] That’s one of Alpine Helicopters’ big Bell Jet Rangers, where you know, the bigger the planes they got … the bigger the choppers they got … the more they could lift. And that’s a 500, and if you just see on the front of that, it was one of the meat guns sitting on the front of it – I’ll just cover that a bit later.

And so live capture, then – Rex Giles of Consolidated Traders took up the challenge with the Forest Service to get approval to farm deer. And after the deer farming regulations were passed in 1969, Rex was given the first licence, No 1, in New Zealand. And the New Zealand Deer Farmers’ Conference three years ago celebrated that – Mrs Giles went to Wanaka and there was a major presentation – he had No 1. And Murray Heays at Tutira had No 7 – I think it was No 7 – it was either 7 or 9. And so Murray Heays at Tutira was one of the really earlier farming [farmers] who were licensed to farm deer. So from that day on, live capture became the new method for helicopters, initially as I said, bull-dogging, then tranquilising. The tranquilising, which is the shooting of the dart, was very slow and unreliable. And then Tim Wallis started the net shooting, and there [shows photo] at a conference he showed off some of the early – spent hundreds, probably thousands of dollars – and that one down the bottom, the net was put in there, and then they shot them out by gun. They initially tried shooting off the skids of the helicopter, but they then developed shooting them from guns, and those nets went out, and that’s how they live captured the deer.

Live capture reached a peak in ’79-’80 when Alpine Helicopters alone caught seven thousand live deer. Deer were taken to a dark shed, then left there for a night … maybe two nights. They were drenched, ear-tagged, and then let out, and that’s when the fun started, trying to get them back in again.

I sold my first deer at Nelson in 1980 – forty yearling hinds straight off the helicopter at three thousand dollars each. They went to a man in the Waikato – and what a job it was getting them up there in those days! Tim had been using a DC-3 from the South Island up to the North, but we decided ‘no’. And there was a guy at Fielding developed a trucking business with special crates for the deer, and so those forty went to Hamilton. And when I came up in ’84, one of the first guys I went and saw was the guy who bought those deer, and it was four years later and he’d only lost one. And he said they were the quietest deer he ever had. They weren’t the biggest, but they were very quiet. So that’s where I started into the deer job, and by that stage, in 1980 the deer – I did six years in Nelson – I did thousands of kilometres chasing good deer, hinds, stags. And the first auction of live animals was at Criffel Park, which is Tim Wallis’s at Wanaka in 1977. There was about a thousand people there that day – you couldn’t move! [Shows photo] That was the prices there – it’s 500 [dollars] for hinds, ‘cause they were wanting females more than stags. It’s a bit of the opposite today. From this point, as I say, live sales took off. Hinds got to five thousand [dollars] before Roger Douglas changed the write-down rules in ‘85, and then everything stopped – Alpine Helicopters went from fourteen helicopters to two, and the deer industry had to stand on its own two feet. That all happened within about three or four months.

Venison. [Shows photo] That’s just a photo of the live sale – those heads in those days – they would’ve been regarded as very, very good heads. But I’ll show you one at the finish which is … like, today. And as you’ll know, there’s still large areas of deer fence round the country, a lot of it because of land-use change. There’s not many deer in them now, but there is still quite large numbers of deer right throughout New Zealand.

Venison. The first venison shipments left 1961 to New York … Tim Wallis & Consolidated Traders … and that went on. [Shows photo] That’s a typical of a deer carcass hanging up, because they could see they were fat-free. The Americans decided that that was going to be for them. And the main venison market for new venison trade has been into America, mainly into New York – down into Boston now – it’s very strong. The German market is still strong – I mean probably when we first started here, sixty percent of New Zealand’s venison went to Germany. It’s only about … it’d be lucky if it’s forty percent now, because there’s still strong venison sales into Europe.

Fifteen years ago it was, Cervena was introduced, which was the apellation strategy for venison. But that Cervena brand is now only used in New York – although they are talking about using it into Europe as a strategy. In 2007, five hundred and ninety-four thousand deer – thirty-two thousand tons – went for export. This year the kill was about four hundred and twelve [thousand] deer and twenty-three thousand tons. And now, most of our deer is sold as New Zealand farm-raised venison. That’s a marketing ploy, not only in New Zealand but throughout the world, as New Zealand farm-raised venison.

Velvet. When the big money started to happen and the deer were being caught, it was worth about two pound [£2] a pound [weight], but quickly jumped to about £40, and that’s was when Tim Wallis and co [company] could see that there was gonna be a lot of money made, and there was. In the early 1980s, Wrightson built a drying plant. They already had one in Invercargill. They built an ultra-modern one in Christchurch, and it started in 1983. And that’s when they started commercially drying velvet in New Zealand. Before that it all went mostly to Hong Kong, frozen, and was dried in Hong Kong. In the late seventies it got up to $150 a kilo. In 1990 we got here, $324 for the top grade. And this last year the velvet has grown in volume, and we know at five hundred ton in New Zealand, we have a price barrier. There’s too much for the world market, and it drops in price. So if we keep the volume at around four thirty [four hundred and thirty] … between there and four fifty [four hundred and fifty] ton, it’s marketable.

The Asian market changes quite a bit, and we used to … when I was here in charge of velvet, nearly ninety percent of our velvet was dried in New Zealand and then went direct into Korea. Now, in the last few years it’s dropped the other way round – only about ten percent. There was eleven drying plants in Christchurch; there’s now only four, and last year only two worked. So it’s completely changed. There’s a lot of frozen velvet going back now into China. And the Koreans are very cunning – they’re using the Chinese as a bank. So they let the Chinese buy it, and then they buy it off them, or trade off them. So [shows photo] that’s velvet being dried in China – we were taken into a plant. [Shows photos] That’s – we were very proud of that – that was her one of her parent’s very top heads. That’s Maylin velvet, which is traditional to the Chinese.

And of course it’s a fallacy that velvet’s only used as an aphrodisiac. It’s been used as a base for herbal medicine for [a] couple of thousand years. There’s one university [that] trains herbal medicine doctors, and they train around a hundred year – it’s a seven-year course. Last year there were seventy graduated, and not one of them didn’t get a job in the herbal medicine market in China or Korea.

And now, with quite a bit of work, velvet is also being used as a food. Last year at the Deer Conference in Wanaka – sorry, two years ago in Wanaka – there was a night for venison meals, and there was quite a few dishes done with velvet in them. It’s interesting what’s happening, because velvet is eighty percent blood, and there’s some really intriguing methods being used.

[Shows photo] There, that’s Chinese … there, that’s the spotted deer in China, and that’s Russian velvet, actually. Russia has still got, in the Altai area, large quantities of felled animals, and the deer – they have … the trouble is that the world’s turned against them, as they’ve got no method. Their method of cutting velvet off is just that – you cut it off. Not like we do here with drugs, and very humanely done.

The other thing that is still big money and is very strong in the Asian countries, is tails, pizzles, sinews, eye-teeth and skins.

Tails – [shows photo] – that’s a guy sitting in the Qingping market in Guangzhou, and I don’t know how it happen[s] but tails go very black. They’re sold here by weight … in ounces … in two ounces increments, they’re sold, and they’re bought mainly by … the tail industry is controlled by about four buyers in Hong Kong. It’s never got of their hands – I tried one year – but never got it out. We tried to [?bribe?] them, but no – it still wouldn’t work. And of course you can imagine, with so few people they adjust the tail price. They can get up to $100 a tail. But it just depends. And this guy and his daughter – they sit there in the Qingping market and sell tails by the hundreds. They’re used in soups. When they leave here frozen, they go to the drying.

[Shows photo] That’s pizzles, [penises] and that’s also in the Qingping market. And they’re graded by size. And … pity we couldn’t get … but the longer they are, the bigger the price. [Chuckles] Yeah.

And sinews are sold by weight – that’s the sinew down the leg there … sold by weight, and they’re used in soups in Hong Kong – mainly in Hong Kong, surprisingly. They do have some elsewhere; it’s growing in China I understand – the market is growing for sinews. If you know what a pig trotter’s like, and the sinew in a pig trotter, it’s very similar in taste. Sold by weight.

Skins … big demand again. The New Zealand deer skin is really valued, ‘specially in Korea. A lot of them … or the majority of them … go to Timaru for treating and then they go to – they’ve got one very big advantage, deer skin – it’s very, very strong for its size, for its thinness. Beef skins – they cut them or they split them, where deer skin they don’t. And deer skin’s very, very strong, and it’s very fashionable. Today’s deer farmers in New Zealand – about ninety percent farm for venison and ten percent … the balance … for velvet, but a lot of it’s mixed now.

There’s been a reasonable trophy market. But the trophy market really depends on the world economy, especially the USA. There has been an increase in Asian and European hunters into New Zealand, but the strength of the trophy market is really with the Americans. And the American industry for hunting is mainly, surprisingly, based around the building industry. If the building industry’s good, we see a lot of hunters here. If the building industry in America’s no good, we see very few. There’s very been some big stories about huge prices for top heads, and that has happened. In 2006, a Saudi prince came here and paid $100,000 to shoot a head in the South Island, and he didn’t actually … the story’s going that it was let out in a small paddock and he shot it … that didn’t happen. But – he was a huge man; they helicoptered him up into the high country; he had a gun; a man looking after his gun; and oh, God! Anyway, $100,000 was a lot of money, and there’s been about five or six have been shot for that sort of money in the last … about four or five years, but there’s not that many.

So the deer industry’s in really good heart. Imported animals started coming here in the late eighties, and a lot of the large growth in the heritable factors of deer has come from imports. And we are now regarded as probably one of the leading deer farming countries – or no, we are the leading deer-farming country in the world. People are now coming here for our genetics. And we don’t import … virtually no deer any more, mainly because we’ve caught up or gone ahead. And if they do, there’d be no live animals coming anyway – the regulations are too tough, so they’d be coming by either semen or embryos.

The deer sale season here goes from late December until end of January. There’s still some pretty high prices paid for deer – last year two stags, one in the North and one in the South, made $60,000. One of the big studs at Reporoa averaged $36,000 for twenty-one animals last year., so there’s still pretty strong money around for the right breed and the right animals.

Just to finish off, I’ve been lucky enough to see a fair bit of the world, especially Asia, because of the deer industry. The highlights would be food – and I hope I’m not going to turn too many off your tea, but I’ve eaten lots of things which some of you won’t … like sparrows, snakes. In there, [shows photo] – that’s in Taiwan – if you have a look in that cabinet there, that’s full of snakes. And he’s selling them. And that there is snakes hanging up – dead. And they drain them for the blood and they drink the blood. And those snakes there were equivalent … and that was in ’94, I think –… and in those days they were about $100 each. And most of them come out of China. Some were coming out of America. But as I say, I’ve also eaten farm-raised dogs in China, and they’re very fat – they’re like a fat Labrador. But they were very tasty, but they’re very fat. And they farm them for twelve months and they’re helluva well-fed. And I had a photo of a truckload, and I couldn’t find it. So anyway I hope I didn’t put you off your tea. [Chuckles] But it’s helluva surprising what they eat in China, and a lot of the markets are just open stalls in the street.

And we do export … we have exported some animals to Korea, Taiwan, Russia, China, Australia, of course – we sold a lot to Australia.

And [I] just want to finish off – the deer is a very unusual animal, and there’s been a lot of trial work done. He has two distinct seasons – from the shortest day to the longest day, and the longest day to the shortest. The shortest day – they’ve named it the winter period, is the dormant season. The stags have their heads [antlers] on, and then when the velvet drops or when the new velvet starts to grow, their heads drop off and the hinds have their fawns in November. And that’s what the scientists call the dormant season. And from the longest day to the shortest is what they call the breeding season. And that’s when the stags re-grow … start the velvet; turns into hard antler, and the hinds – in the wild the hinds wean their own fawns and mate. And it’s a very distinct season, and there’s been a huge amount of research work done on why this should be. And it is as I say, one of the differences in the animal.

So anyway, that’s a big Wapiti stag from the North Island, or an elk stag. They sire – that is a $100,000 stag. That’s what he was paid for at auction three years ago.

So that’s me. Is there any questions? I mean, I just want to finish off.

Question: Phil, can I ask – the weight of velvet, is that dry, that $324 a kilo?

Philip: No, it was green. Frozen. There’s a little bit of a story about that … a Korean bid on quite a big parcel of the velvet in that sale. And it was on Christmas Eve, or two days before Christmas, and he bought $800,000 worth of velvet, and he reneged on the payment. He reneged on the payment, ‘cause what happened, there was an upset in Korea … the president had been shot. And everything stopped. And anyway, we told him that he can’t do that … can’t just pull out, and blah blah blah. And I never slept for ten days, because we had this – all our farmers were wanting paid for their velvet. And so what we did, we re-sold it. We didn’t sell it between Christmas and New Year because we couldn’t – we sold it immediately after Christmas. And we told him that any difference in payment he had to pay – he had to come up. The difference … I’ll never forget it … the difference was $164,602, and we had the cheque in the bank the next day. Saving face – they save face. It was quite amazing, really. So, yeah. Any other questions?

Question: Why is Bob Charles not putting his name to …

Philip: Well, they’ve got such a scare over this thing that they found in velvet, and it’s natural … it’s a natural product, and he just doesn’t want to be seen with it. That’s the only reason. It’s a natural product, it’s been there forever. But all of a sudden they found out that they think it has got some benefits. And that’s all it is. There’s a lot of research starting to work on it probably now. Well I know there is.

Question: In the context of the wider industry, where does Hawke’s Bay fit in?

Philip: Quite high. Nearly forty percent of the North Island deer business is here. Mostly in the foothills now.

Question: Okay – what about North Island vis-à-vis the South Island?

Philip: Two-thirds/one-third. We originally used to be two thirds in the North and one third in the South – it’s gone right around now. About a third in the North. It’s still quite strong here.

Question: When they cull did they use the meat?

Philip: No. Very few. No, just shot deer. I mean, you know, it’s just like shooting goats in that state and we lived off goat meat. There was a big amphitheatre and the cullers brought them down, and there was about eleven guns there in total. But they knew … the cullers knew all the country backwards.

Question: So they just rotted?

Philip: Yep – just rotted.

Joyce: I know I’m speaking for all of you – we know a lot more about deer now than we did half an hour ago, and it was a very, very comprehensive, balanced talk, and I really thank you for it. I got a shock at how many different species, and it was just such a huge industry. And we thank you terribly – you’ve had a whole life in it, really, it’s fantastic. So thank you, everyone for coming. I know you’ve enjoyed it tonight. Philip, I’m very grateful for the work you’ve put in, so thank you. [Applause]

Philip: Thank you.

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Landmarks Talk 17/8/2013


  • Philip Irwin

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