Pania Marsh is a woman on a mission.

The Tokomaru local and mother of four has launched an initiative to teach women how to hunt and fill their freezers, sharing her skills, enthusiasm and ability to help people bond.

Marsh started Wāhine Toa Hunting in response to hearing too many stories of women, often solo mothers, struggling to afford food, especially meat, to feed their families.

She realised she had something to offer as a practical solution and set about finding a way to make it happen.

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The plan was to take a small group out on an overnight camp, teach them how to use a hunting rifle and then supervise them on a deer hunt.

Marsh, who also has her own full-time work outside of the venture, said she would never charge for any part of the experience.

"That would be yuck," she said.

Women participating in Wahine Toa Hunting's venture to teach women to hunt and fill their freezers.
Women participating in Wahine Toa Hunting's venture to teach women to hunt and fill their freezers.

After creating a couple of Youtube clips to gauge if there would be any interest, the responses started coming in, and Marsh was surprised at the number of women keen to take part, even if they had never been hunting before.

"When I look at problems I think how I can solve them practically," she said.

"I was hearing about too many people working 50 or 60 hours a week and having no money for meat. Single mums especially end up carrying the load. If you know how to get a whole deer, that's your freezer. I'd rather see Kiwis learning how to go out and hunt than sitting in WINZ asking for a food grant, and I know how to get a feed."

One response was from Māori TV which wanted to bring their programme Piri's Tiki Tour, fronted by rugby star Piri Weepu, to film with her.

Marsh says she connected with Weepu and the crew, which included Weepu's brother Billy and advisor Matua Parkinson, and during the time they spent together she realised how her idea may have had the potential to become enormous.

"I had no idea how I was going to do it, I just knew I had to do it," she said.

She said during filming over the course of three hunting trips she took with Weepu and Parkinson, they helped her figure out how to structure her idea, asking questions about logistics and sharing knowledge with her gleaned from their own professional careers.

"There is no blueprint for this," Marsh said. "But you should only take advice from people you want to be like."

That rang true in Weepu and Parkinson's case, Marsh said.

Shortly after, she refined the scope of the venture and launched it under the title Wāhine Toa Hunting.

The list of women wanting to learn to hunt exploded and now sits at around 2000 people - a staggering response showing a real need, Marsh said.

So far she has taught around 40 women to hunt, with several going on to be able to go hunting under their own steam.

She hopes they will in turn take the knowledge and pass it on to others.

The success of Wāhine Toa and the resulting social media following has also allowed Marsh to create opportunities to draw attention to other social causes, including mental health and suicide awareness, such as the upcoming Teen Suicide Awareness march in Wellington on May 6.

For further information on Wāhine Toa Hunting, visit their Facebook page.

For information on the Teen Suicide Awareness march, which begins at the Interislander Ferry Terminal in Wellington at 10am on May 6 and travels to Parliament, click here.