An impassioned plea by a Rotorua woman whose partner was shot dead by his companion, has been acknowledged in the new Firearms Code.
Under rule 5 of the code, all new firearms licence holders will be advised to stick together or cease hunting if they lose sight of their partner.
Gabby Molloy, whose partner James 'Dodzy' Dodds was killed by his friend and hunting companion in September last year, asked for this to be included as a recommendation in the coroner's report into Mr Dodds' death. Mr Dodds was killed in September by friend Henry Worsp who thought he had a fallow deer in his sights.
Two months on from the inquest findings and it has been included in the new Firearms Code, which all new applicants must study before achieving their licence. Dr Wallace Bain said he was pleased that as a coroner he had been listened to.
"We work long hours and in not pleasant circumstances," he said. "When you see things like this making a difference it's worth it. It's only two months after the inquest, so very fast."
He said it was noted at the inquest that in 64 per cent of the cases examined by Inspector Michael Green, one of New Zealand's leading experts in firearms safety control, it was found the deceased and shooter were in the same hunting party. The shooter had failed to identify the target.
Detective Sergeant John Wilson, Rotorua, said the inclusion of the recommendation in the new version of the Firearms Code could "only be a good thing".
"Any change that can bring about a different attitude from hunters has to be good.
"We're looking at changing the mindset of hunters. When they see something the starting point is 'is it a person?' rather than it is probably a deer.
At certain times of the year it's common to split up, especially during the roar. This is a step in the right direction and I'm impressed it's happened so quickly. It will influence new people and that can't be a bad thing. Everyone needs to be aware that there is the potential that you can shoot someone when you go hunting."
The new addition to the code reads: A common feature of many hunting deaths is that the shooter and the deceased are hunting together. Once hunters hunting together have lost sight of each other they must assume their mate to be within their firing zone. When hunting together with a companion, hunters must cease hunting if visual contact with that companion is lost, and not resume hunting until visual contact is made and confirmed.
Ms Molloy could not be reached for comment.