The events of March 15 in Christchurch will reverberate through New Zealand for many years to come.

It's not all that surprising that this incident created a clarion call from (almost) everyone across the country for a resolute and substantial change.

Fifty innocent people, including children, were killed as they worshipped at their local mosque.

As a society we need to act swiftly and definitively to ensure this isn't able to happen again.

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I'll clarify that I'm not a hunter, nor am I a firearms owner. Neither of these things matters in this instance.

Mountain Safety Council CEO, Mike Daisley. Photo / Supplied
Mountain Safety Council CEO, Mike Daisley. Photo / Supplied

I'm a Kiwi, and like a lot of Kiwis I've spoken with during the last week I felt this kind of incident should never, could never, happen in New Zealand.

We were wrong.

It will take a period of adjustment to change our individual and collective perceptions about the makeup of our communities and how this kind of hatred was able to fester in a society that we'd always thought of as somewhat immune to the global rise of extremism.

This year I head into the 'Big Game' hunting season colloquially known as 'The Roar' with a heightened sense of trepidation.

I'm concerned every year but especially so this year.

Knowing the insights as I do there's a chance that a hunter is going to be misidentified for a game animal.

I could tell you that this is most likely to be the case in Waikato and Central North Island forests, and I can also say that 80 per cent of the time with these kinds of incidents the misidentified person was in the same hunting group as the shooter.

What New Zealand and the hunting community can't take this year is any more harm via a firearm.

There's a distinct difference between an act of terror and a hunting incident of course, but the resultant effect is that a member of the public won't be around for Christmas this year or the next.

Photo / Mountain Safety Council
Photo / Mountain Safety Council

If there is a 'misidentified target' incident this year, and I sincerely hope there isn't, the general public, already highly sensitive from the events in Christchurch, will question again how firearms fit into the fabric of Kiwi society.

Let me make it clear that the vast majority of hunters are law-abiding, responsible and considerate people.

There are over 190 thousand hunters who enjoy recreational hunting in New Zealand. But as with all things, a few irresponsible selfish people can ruin it for the majority.

My plea to the hunters around New Zealand is that 2019 is known as the year of calling people out if you see something that's unsafe.

It's the year for actually listening to organisations like MSC when we promote safe and enjoyable recreation.

It's the year that you need to drop the "I've been doing it for ages and I've never had an issue" and replace it with "It doesn't matter how long I've been doing this I need to keep a close eye on my practices, and those of others".

It's the year where instead of "she'll be right" is replaced with "Not this year, there's been too much hurt".

Firearms-related incidents are entirely preventable by simply following the seven firearms safety rules.

The message we've got for Big Game hunters this year is 'Be Seen, Be Sure'.

Make sure you're contrasting with your environment – i.e. wear your favourite blaze colour – and be absolutely sure that the thing you see rustling in the bushes up ahead isn't a human.

If your partner, sibling, friend, parent or relative is a hunter make sure you share this with them and let them know that you want them to MAKE IT HOME.

- Mike Daisley is the CEO of Mountain Safety Council