Draconian Fish and Game Restructure Proposals Shelved

(special report)
Proposals to radically restructure Fish and Game, which administer and manage trout and salmon fishing and duck and game bird shooting, have been shelved according to a letter from Conservation Minister Kiri Allan sent to the New Zealand Outdoor Party.
Outdoor Party co-leader Alan Simmons said the minister has confirmed there is no time scheduled for legislative changes in the near future and the matter will not be pursued any further.
The proposals to restructure Fish and Game arose from a review set up by previous Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage who said the intention was to look at governance only. A two person review panel however went beyond this and concluded government appointees and iwi representatives with voting rights would sit on both national and regional fish and game councils while regions would be reduced by amalgamations.
The proposals drew angry reaction from licence holders and organisations such as the NZ Federation of Freshwater Anglers and Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ and most fish and game regions themselves.
Simmons said an alarming aspect was the lack of consultation with the 150,000 fish and game licence holders whose license money funded fish and game with no input from government.
“It has been financially independent of government with no taxpayer money funding it – unlike the Department of Conservation which is totally taxpayer funded,” he said. “It was DOC that was administering the Fish and Game review. Ironically in the opinion of many outdoors Kiwis, it’s DOC that needs a strong, searching review.”
Minister Allan said in her letter that there is widespread agreement within Fish and Game circles for regional amalgamation but that required considerable further consultation.
“That’s debatable,” said Simmons. “But she did consider Fish and Game to should push on to internally restructure and strengthen governance practices, which I think many feel is justifiable.”
He said he was heartened by the Minister’s assurance that any legislative processes would be done under “normal public engagement and consultation.”
Simmons said he was very concerned of the inadequate consultation that was carried out involving current Fish and Game NZ chairman Ray Grubb talking only to regional councillors.
“That’s just under 150 people, i.e. licence holders whereas there’s probably over 150,000 licence holders in total,” he said.
Tony Orman, of the Council of Outdoor Recreation Councils, a Fish and Game regional councillor for some 30 years, said governments had attempted numerous state takeovers of fish and game and its predecessor acclimatisation societies. The 1968 Hunn Report admitted there had been 10 previous attempts by the State he said with a number since then.
‘Any organisation can develop faults and wrong cultures,” said Orman. “Look at the culture controversies currently raging over well paid government-funded sports and many would argue local government and parliament needs a shakeup.”
The underlying principle is that Fish and Game is totally funded by fish and game licence holders.
“ Any suggestion of State puppets with voting rights sitting around council tables is anathema to be loathed and resisted,’ said Orman.
He commended Alan Simmons for challenging “the potential State takeover of the public’s fish and game organisation”.

, Draconian Fish and Game Restructure Proposals Shelved

Alan  Simmons – “DOC – not Fish and Game – needs a review”
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34 Responses to Draconian Fish and Game Restructure Proposals Shelved

  1. "Chinook" says:

    The government has long coveted the license money of the fish and game public and what was dressed up as a review of Fish and Game’s governance was turned by a two person DOC – appointed panel, into a thinly disguised attempt to seize control of fish and game sports and dispossess the fish and game organisation of its money, relative independence and political voice.

  2. Neil Wilson says:

    right on fish and game belongs to the stake holders ie the license holders, govt stuff it up with DOC and there 1080, get out and stay out of it nz govt cheers

  3. Jim Hilton says:

    This is a great win for fisherman and game hunters but there is no room for complacency. The fact that the changes were suggested in the first place tell us that the power hungry in Wellington are completely out of touch with the people they are supposed to represent. The world wide Covid hysteria underlines that it is not just fishers and hunters who are being disenfranchised. Multinational Pharma companies have underhandedly marketed a fake pandemic to Governments worldwide by infiltrating organisations like the UN and European Union. They bully and bribe officials into signing secret agreements from which they will make huge profits. People everywhere are being stripped of their fundamental rights by global businesses and corporatised Governments.
    The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

  4. John Mulgan says:

    Why do DOC and the national office of New Zealand Fish and Game have such a problem with the first principal of good governance: public consultation?

    The New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers has conducted a more thorough outreach to key stakeholders on these proposals. Far more license holders responded to the federation’s recent poll than have been consulted by Mr Grubb’s office, or by DOC, whose budget approaches three-quarters of a billion dollars.

    What is wrong with asking license holders about these issues in a thorough national poll, publishing the details, and developing policy around the results? Refusing to do so makes the whole process of Fish and Game’s “reform” illegitimate.

    Another simple question remains unanswered: if DOC obtains the right to fire at will the chair or CEO of Fish and Game, what will happen the next time someone like Nick Smith is running the DOC?

    Fish and Game has a few problems, particularly with councils like those in Canterbury, or with rational allocation of license sales. But its greatest strength over the years has been its financial and political independence. Anglers and hunters understand the issues far better than urban consultants or bureaucrats with family financial interests in industrial agriculture.

    Nothing Mr Grubb has said has addressed these two simple questions.

    Despite putting on hold some of the worst proposals in the illegitimate governance review, the lingering impulse to muzzle Fish and Game’s fight against Dirty Dairy remains a threat.

    If Labour goes through with the anti-democratic aspects of the review, what remains of Fish and Game will have all the credibility of a Vichy government. And Labour will pay a price.

    See https://www.britannica.com/event/Vichy-France

    NZFFA - New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers

  5. Alan+Rennie says:

    To have a thriving prosperous fresh water fish and game unit in NZ first off we need fresh clean water, and in sayig that the only outfit testing and doing something to meet those ends is the NZFFA maybe its time to change F@G into something better led by NZFFA and aligned concerned parties ?

  6. Albert Frampton says:

    It was common knowledge that the previous Conservation Minister hated all things introduced, ie trout, salmon, and 4-legged recreational game animals. The best thing this present government did was to not invite her into their team. Why should we put up with government puppets who do nothing, say little, and get paid? Keep up the good work Fish and Game.

  7. Greg Kemp says:

    Whilst at face value this appears to be promising, I am not prepared to believe for one second that this is over.

    A leopard doesn’t change its spots, nor can this out of control looney left-wing amalgamation of socialist and green trough-swilling politicians do likewise.

    We might see a lull in proceedings, but eternal vigilance will be required – Ray Grubb is happy to get into bed with DOC to the detriment of F&G licence holders, and he won’t go quietly into this good night.

    Stay alert everyone

    You have been warned

    NZFFA - New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers

    • Keith Hawkins says:

      Mr Kemp your hatred of the left seems to cloud your logic.
      This process was started by Eugene Sage and then picked up by the new minister of conservation. (20/11/2020).
      It would appear at face value minister Allan has put a halt to this review or at the very least paused this lunacy.

      • Greg Kemp says:

        Not a hatred of the left at all. Any trying to circumvent the true democratic process are my enemies – left or right!
        Whilst I agree Sage started it at the behest of whomsoever, all Minister Allan has stated is that basically, they have other “fish to fry” [pun] at present. There is still the ever-present veiled threat of it being resurrected. (refer F&G Chairman Ray Grubb’s comment at 23/08/2021 at 2:24 pm below)
        As for the left? Well, I do recollect the imposition of ECan by the Key government when they were equally out of control as this mob are.

        NZFFA - New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers

  8. PT says:

    Well done to Alan Simmons and Minister Kiri Allan.
    With cool heads and adequate time let’s hope F&G can emerge in better shape.
    A good effort in the face of a few who tried to rush through change with inadequate consultation or consideration of what is best for F&G (as opposed to the ambitions of a muddled Ministry).

  9. Larry Burke says:

    none of this addresses the biggest problem within F&G and that is the allocation of funds. Why should some regions be subsidising other regions that don’t sell enough licences to even pay their staff ? I and a lot of licence holders from the 3 main regions that provide around 40% of the F&G funding resent 50% of our licence fee going to this, especially when it means that part of what is needed in these regions to fix problems. That historically have had little cost to F&G and brought finance in to run the organisation. I am talking salmon . North Canterbury has since 2007 lost around $500,000 a season in licence sales as anglers who mainly fish for sea run salmon no longer do so. Yet F&G budgeting keeps taking an increasing amount of NCF&G licence holder fees to subsidise other regions who can not sell enough licences to support themselves. We have the most polluted nitrate rivers in our area thanks to the former national government undemocratically sacking an elected council and putting their puppets in there with one of the ministers telling them ”Canterbury is being sacrificed for the good of the country” Meanwhile F&G national compounds the problem by taking half of all fishing and hunting fees to subsidise unfinancial regions some of which have squirreled away large reserves. This is the main problem that needs to be addressed and that those voting on the budget should not come from regions that are being subsidised as there is a conflict of interest there.

    • Keith Hawkins says:

      Mr Burke I wish to point out that on a per head of population basis some of these smaller regions actually sell more licences than the larger regions.
      These smaller populated areas cover large areas and need just as much money to properly administer these regions effectively.
      Would you prefer to have these regions decimated through illegal fishing.

      • Larry Burke says:

        this is why those smaller regions need to be amalgamated. Meanwhile as licence fees are syphoned off to support them the regions the funding comes from become neglected as they do not have the funds to perform what is needed to be done to keep generating the funds the smaller regions want. An example North Canterbury has since 2007 lost $500,000 a year in licence fees as the main fishery that sustained the region salmon angling (80% of licence fees)has deteriorated to the point where only 2 fish a season can be taken and once an angler does that it is the end of their season. that in its self has implications to other areas of economic activity that occurs around fresh water angling as the average salmon angler spends around $3-5,000 a year on their sport. what was 14,000 salmon anglers is in 13 years according to F&G is now down to 4,000. If that keeps up then the regions that take 50% of the licence fees from North Canterbury will need to look else where for their subsidy.

        • Keith Hawkins says:

          Mr Burke you are correct to say that that is the reason that the regions need to amalgamate. In fact it is only one reason why amalgamations should occur.
          You seem fixated on the funds each region raises should be spent in the region. This however dosent help the regions who need extra funding.
          I believe that all regions need to be funded according to need and a formula needs to be introduced to carry out this evenly.
          I also believe that the appointment of the new acting CEO who has a background in fundraising could be a real asset to the organisation as all fish and games funding shouldn’t be limited to just licence sales

  10. Herb Spannagl says:

    Congratulations Allan, for having this takeover “shelved”. As I have said elsewhere DOC with its intrinsic hate of all introduced fish and wildlife has too much conflict of interest to act as an honest broker between F&G and the government. Durig my long career in DOC I have never seen this department advocating for anglers and hunters. Unlike other well provided for outdoor recreations anglers and hunters have been merely tollerated for political expediency.
    I also served as a F&G councillor and National councillor. My experience has not been a very happy one. I found the organisation mired in personality conflicts, hidden agendas, back stabing perenial old boys clicks and little meningful action in the field; at least in my Taranaki region. Many of these issues have also been identified in the review, albeit in more diplomatic terms.
    It is true that F&G has been the principle advocate for high quality water and rivers and lakes that contain it and for that I shall express my sincere thank you.
    However, hunting and fishing is facing a slowly diminishing participation which will become more serious as veterans die off and young entrants become fewer. With fewer numbers comes less political clout when facing the many issues that are confronting our sports now and undoubtedly in the future. We need more innovative participation drivesnot only among our traditional user catchments but also to explore how to grow the sport among new prospects. As it has recently transpired F&G has been infiltrated via the legitimate election process by elements with a stated agenda to undermine and weaken some of the core principle and goals of our organisation. Their influence has already been seen in some of the decisions made by our national council about water issues . This new organised “enemy within” phenominum calls for a much higher scruteny of candidate background identificaton prior to an election and a much higher willingness of licenseholders to stand for office.
    I believe much of the poor governence issues identified in the review and in my own personal experiece can be avoided if councillors are limited two consecutive terms. Nobody is irreplaceable and a regular infusiong of new blood with new ideas is vital to keep F&G as a sharp and courageous guardian of our sports.

    • Steve Gerard says:

      Great comments Herb, F&G certain have some issues, and you highlight the same ones I see down this way. Let’s hope they can be sorted out, it’s not before time

  11. Ray Grubb says:

    Mr Simmons claim that the review has been shelved is entirely factually incorrect
    Ray Grubb, Chair, NZ Fish and Game Council

    • Greg Kemp says:

      As I warned above – the leopard cannot change its spots. Nor can Ray Grub surrender his new-found position as the Grim Reaper for F&G

      NZFFA - New Zealand Federation of Freshwater Anglers

  12. Alan says:

    Ray, the Minster has said in a letter to me that there is no legislative timetable available and that she is not proceeding down that path. So please explain …is the minister lying to me? or do you know something else…explain…

  13. Ray Grubb says:

    The letter did say that “at this stage there is no position available on the legislative timetable …”
    I have a copy it is a public document. The 2nd para is the relevant one. If you were to add the words “at this time” at the end of the second sentence in that para. then you have the correct context explained even more clearly.
    No-one is lying or knows anything else. All very straightforward

  14. Frank Murphy says:

    What I would like to know, is short and to the point, will the dumb bastards who voted Ray Grubb ( with out doing there homework ) as their rep on the NZF&G Council resign? Frank Murphy.

  15. Martin Taylor says:

    Ray is right about how to read the letter – the Review continues which is great, we need reform so license holders can get a better deal from their funds. Fewer regions, fewer managers, fewer new 4WDs will mean more money for promotion and protection of our waterways – and more money needs to flow through to the South Island as stated in the resource allocation review.

    • John Mulgan says:

      Mr Taylor, one of your biggest blunders when managing Fish and Game was to cancel the magazine with no public consultation. In doing so, you robbed stakeholders of their best forum for debate. Nothing has replaced it. By supporting Mr Grubb in this way, you demonstrate a pernicious problem at the national level: a tendency to think you always know better.

      You don’t. Nor does Mr Grubb. Neither of you have monopolies on the best ideas for serving the interests of license holders and the resource.

      Both of you also seem to display contempt for the stakeholders who fund this organisation and who care more about freshwater habitat in this country than any other group.

      Open debate and democracy do not weaken organisations. The opposite is true. Authentic public discussions, diversity of opinion and building consensus are the only things that produce legitimate and enduring reform. Everything else is simply a coup.

  16. Ray Grubb says:

    I note that comments on the NZFFA site are moderated. I have no comment on the personal attacks on me, which reflect more on the person concerned, but do ask if the moderator considers them appropriate to a proper discussion on issues. It is not possible for Fish and Game to interact with the NZFFA while this continues and that is to the detriment of the fishing community who will then be less well informed.

    • DaveC says:

      As one of the moderators Ray, I can say that NZFFA allows full and frank exchanges by its members. Naturally, offensive language and off-topic comments are deleted.
      However, if members have a genuine comment – they will be published as part of that full and frank policy.
      If you are concerned about personal attacks, it might be appropriate to wonder why members are feeling that way.

    • Greg Kemp says:

      Hi Ray
      On 2nd July you made a comment that included amongst other things you said Despite my repeated offers NZFFA has not been prepared to hear or engage with me. I am therefore not able to represent nor protect the interests of Fish and Game’s licence holders as is my job.
      Which it turns out to have been untrue.
      It strikes me you are seeking any excuse to avoid the real issues of polling all your OWN Members and liaising directly with NZFFA.

    • John Mulgan says:

      Mr Grubb:

      Please answer these simple questions.

      1. If you are so confident you have stakeholder support for this “reform,” why won’t you simply conduct a poll with all license holders asking their views on the proposals, then base policy on that?

      2. If you think packing the councils with political appointees, or giving the Minister of Conservation the right to fire the CEO, chair or any sitting member on the council is a good idea, how would you propose to stop the next Nick Smith?

      3. What credibility does the Department of Conservation have on the issue of protecting water quality in this country?

      Failure to answer these questions directly will simply prove the illegitimacy of your project.

      Your last sentence is essentially telling anyone who disagrees with you to sit down and shut up. “Because I said so” is not a persuasive rhetorical technique with kids, let alone adults.

  17. Dave Rhodes says:

    It appears you now hold two conflicting positions – one as head of F&G and the other overseeing its restructure under DOC’s auspices.
    So where do your loyalties lie? As a non-paid Chair of F&G representing your members, or as a paid employee of DOC? Is this a case of “he who pays the piper”?

  18. Tony Orman says:

    What Ray Grubb needs to realise is that comments are not necessarily NZFFA’s position. They are comments by individual licence holders.
    Relative to licence holders, an elected member of a fish and game council and elected F&G NZ councillors is a public servant to the fish and game public – not the master or bully boy.
    If an elected councillor and/or national council or chairman is not performing satisfactorily licence holders have every right to comment.
    Full democracy should be to the fore.

  19. Alan+Rennie says:

    Mr Grubb, an honest question, were you paid by both F@G and DOC during this inquiry period?

  20. Ray Grubb says:

    With the greatest respect what you are all doing is focussing on the individual and not on the work that is being done. Fish and Game is and will continue to be a politically independent self funding Organisation. The shape of its administration
    will likely change to match modern demands.
    I offered to attend the NZFFA AGM and that offer was rejected.
    As this thread was started and is run by a political party I will offer no further comment, and that is consistent with the independence of Fish and Game

    • John Mulgan says:

      Mr Grubb:

      1. Why won’t Fish and Game poll all license holders about the governance review, then base policy on the response?

      2. If the Conservation Minister has the right to pack councils, or fire the next chair or CEO, how will you protect license holders and the resource from the next Nick Smith?

      No political party runs this organisation. It is against our policy and temperaments. We regularly disagree on politics.

      But more to the point. Once again, you have failed to address the two biggest questions. To do so is not only intellectually weak. It’s dishonest and cowardly. Please answer these two questions. License holders deserve an answer.

      Failure to answer these questions IS an answer. It means you know we are right and you can’t defend your position.

    • Keith Hawkins says:

      It seems you are incapable of answering any questions asked by fish and game licence holders in this instance.
      If you can’t or wont answer these questions do you think maybe you should resign.
      It is a weak position you take in saying this is just focusing on the individual when you should actually answer the stakeholders

  21. Alan says:

    Ray, you seem to interpret the letter from the minister in a way that does not make sense. I guess time will tell. The most draconian parts of the review required legislative changes which need to be scheduled, take a lot of time and often other political matters get in the road. In the letter to the NZ Outdoors Party the Minister said twice she would not be pursuing the matter any further at this stage in response to my questions about the advice she had signed off on. Regardless, by not implementing the review in time to stop the 2021 national council elections it would seem that the moment has passed. In three years the will to reform F&G will have dissipated.

    The Minister did say that the amalgamation of regions needs more consultation and she would take advice from the implementation committee that you chair which is hardly representative of F&G given the fact you are being paid to facilitate DOCs agenda in this matter. I have debated as to whether to take this to the high court but I’m sure the minister does not want a protracted public scrap in the high court.
    If you continue to push ahead with advice to the minister contrary to the wishes of F&G members then you are conflicted and working against the interests of your electors. Our legal advice is that you are conflicted.
    Your role as chair of F&G is to work in the interests of F&G…. which conflicts you simply because the review recommendations effectively gutted F&G. The Conservation act states clearly that as chair you cannot be paid while a Councillor so we believe by accepting the role as paid facilitator you are.
    The role of NZ council chairman is to bring about some management changes and effect some better governance rules. I suspect that is what the Minister is wanting to see rather than you blindly going down the path of trying to effect all the changes recommend in the review. I am sure you will have support from license holders for this.
    I suspect when this current round of council elections are over things will be drastically different and we can all move on and rebuild F&G back to wonderful user pays user says organisation it has been for a hundred years.

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