They are champing at the bit to get out, but how do our local hunters feel about the restrictions under alert level 3? Journalist Kelly Makiha explains the new rules that come into place as of next week and talks to some keen hunters.
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Bay of Plenty families are doing it tough, missing out on key food supplies from the bush, but local hunters say "be patient", despite the prime hunting weeks ticking by.
The Government will allow people to hunt on private property under alert level 3 but has placed a blanket ban on hunting on public or conservation land.
Other restrictions include not being allowed to go on overnight trips or use quad bikes or helicopters.
All hunting was banned under alert level 4 but the Government has made some concessions under level 3.
New Zealand Deer Stalkers Association Bay of Plenty branch president, Clyde Rogers from Tauranga, said most locals hunt in the Kaimai Ranges and Mamaku regions, meaning they still couldn't when the country moves to alert level 3 on Tuesday.
"I think everyone, not just hunters, are getting a bit sick of not being able to do what they want and everyone is looking forward to getting back into level 2, at least."
Rogers said the reality was most hunters used public land so alert level 3 would mean no change.
"Most people don't have access to private land ... so really we have to live with it."
Hunting Aotearoa television frontman and Bay of Plenty identity Howie Morrison Junior said alert level 3 meant there were few places around the region where hunters could go.
He said while some Māori blocks were privately owned, permission would need to be given and access could be too difficult.
Morrison said although hunters might feel hard done by, the restrictions were working and that was the most important thing.
"I think we will all be eating Mike King pork for a while longer."
Morrison said hunting was an essential food source, especially for remote communities in places like Ruatoria, the Far North and the east and west coasts.
"We take it for granted that we can just go to the supermarket and buy our meat."
He said hunters were usually food gatherers and shared their supplies with friends and family.
"April, May and June are prime-time hunting months and, by the time, we get to level 2, the roar will be over. But the message to hunters is just imagine how big the deer and pigs are going to be when we get to them. I'm sure we can survive another two to three weeks, at least."
Morrison said there was a bigger picture to the Government's directions and hunters would need to be patient.
"The one thing they have got in mind is getting rid of this nasty virus. We don't want to get to level 2 and then have to go to level 4 again. The other main message too is to keep safe. If we have an accident, then there will be no more hunting."
Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson, along with Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage, announced level 3 hunting restrictions yesterday morning.
"We know that hunting is an important part of life for many New Zealanders, and in some cases, a critical source of food," Robertson said.
He said New Zealand needed to minimise the risk of losing the progress it had made while in level 4.
"We have to strike a balance, and that's why these rules are designed to allow hunting in a limited way," Robertson said.
Cabinet agreed hunting on private land will be allowed under alert level 3, so long as hunters stay within their region and stick to their bubble.
Hunting is only permitted on foot and overnight trips are not allowed.
The start of duck shooting season, on Saturday, May 2, would be postponed by two weeks.