Police have released the name of a hunter who was fatally shot on the first day of the duck shooting season.
53-year-old Phillip Eric Bright, of Waiuku, was hunting with a party on private property near Pukekohe, just before 6pm on Saturday when he was struck by gunfire.
An ambulance was called to a house 100m away from the shooting on Taurangaruru St, but Mr Bright died before officers arrived.
Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident. A post-mortem examination will be completed today.
Mr Bright was part of a hunting party, but it is not known whether they were targeting ducks. Hunting experts say fatal accidents while duck shooting are almost unheard of.
Fish & Game Council chief Bryce Johnson said: "In all the years that I've handled these sorts of responses, I can't say that I've had any of this nature.
"In duck shooting, the target is always clear, because it's flying, and it's usually within 30m. The problem is more likely to be faulty handling of the firearm itself."
The Mountain Safety Council, which promotes safety in the outdoors, agrees the death is unusual.
The Council's firearms and hunter training manager, Mike Spray, says it's a tragic way to start the season.
"Last year there were four incidents causing injury and the injuries ranged from minor to considerably more serious," he told Newstalk ZB.
Police received 15 hunting-related complaints in the upper half of the North Island, including claims that hunters had failed to properly identify their targets, or were firing too close to properties and people.
A neighbour and close friend of Mr Bright's family, Gerard van der Meer, said hunting had become more risky as the land south of Auckland was subdivided.
"We've had family here since the 1890s, and hunting has always been a part of the community. But it's got more and more closed in, people are shooting nearer and nearer to houses, to where people are.
"It's very unfortunate. But four guys, four guns, in close quarters ... it happens doesn't it?"
Police issued a firearms safety warning after the large number of concerned calls.
Duck shooters are required to shoot from maimais, or huts, at least 91m apart. Ducks can only be shot in flight.
Mr Johnson said people could hunt on their own land without a licence. People who did not seek a licence, or regularly renew their licence, did not get firearm safety drilled into them. "I don't want duck shooting to get vilified here because I don't think the duck shooting activity is the problem. Identification of the target can be an issue for big game hunting, but not for ducks."
- with NZ Herald staffBy Isaac Davison @Isaac_Davison Email Isaac