To The Back of Beyond Reviewed by John DeLury There are probably only a handful of hunters who have spend more time at Mason Bay that I have. My first visit was in 25 years ago in the days when a few cunning sheep which missed the final muster still roamed. Looking at the fences, ditches and buildings I had thought about the people who had lived and worked in this remote part of New Zealand. “To The Back of Beyond” takes us on a journey which unravels many of the mysteries of Mason Bay. From William Walker in 1879 to Tim TeAika and his family in 1986 the hardships faced in farming such an isolated place as Island Hill Run are hard to comprehend today.Using well constructed sequences of modern filming woven around b/w photos, historic 8mm film and personal interviews, the tale these tough and hardy people unfolds. In a place where nothing is wasted and best use is made of everything that washes ashore, the resilience of the people has to be admired. From getting supplies once every three months to building your own airstrip to supplementing income with ambergris, possum skins and later venison and a safari operation, TeAika must have worked some long hours for little reward given the high costs of getting anything to the farm.
This DVD covers it all. Most spectacular is the aerial photography which opens up the expanse of Island Hill in a way that cannot be seen from the ground. The filmmakers have also included coverage of the changes of vegetation and the stabilisation of the sand dunes by marram grass. Regardless of your views on the merits of the eradication program being undertaken it shows interesting comparisons. The movie gives some indication of deer in their heyday at Masons but don’t expect anything like that today. Just a glimpse of the trophies taken during the 60’s & 70’s is worth the watch. Recreational hunters have substantially reduced deer numbers since the area was opened up for hunting in 1989.
South Coast Productions have done a top job of producing this record of a small but extremely interesting part of New Zealand. Their dedication in recording so much detail in one hour is something which will be appreciated not only by deerstalkers but everyone interested in the history of Stewart Island and New Zealand.
RUSA New Zealand’s Little Sambar Reviewed by: Phil Chalmers
As I am in the process of writing a detailed book on sambar and rusa in New Zealand, I was champing at the bit to See Dave Barraclough’s newly released NZ Rusa DVD.
There can be no doubt that Dave has undertaken one of the toughest assignments on the New Zealand hunting scene. A number of NZ’s most experienced hunters that have tried their hand at obtaining a trophy NZ rusa have more often than not returned with their tail between their legs, some never to return. Such is the difficulty of hunting NZ’s most elusive species. You can imagine then, the herculean task of obtaining enough quality footage of rusa in their NZ environment to be able to put together a DVD. Not only has Dave managed this but his production has excelled beyond all expectations.
Dave obviously has a huge depth of experience with rusa in his favoured haunts within Te Urewera. The dedication involved in gathering this footage and then turning out a truly professional product would be well beyond the rest of us mere mortals.
The footage is all high class and mostly in HD. For those of you who have chased the rusa before, don’t think that the footage is all going to be showing some distant slip face – incredibly Dave has got right in amongst these exceptionally wary animals. You will not only see amazing footage of family groups but also stags that will make you drool, including one roared right in to the camera – simply fantastic.
The DVD however is not just filming rusa but is in fact the complete package. There are interviews with well-known experienced rusa hunters and some of the preliminary footage giving the viewer an introduction to Te Urewera is stunning. Dave also shares enough snippets of information on how and where to hunt rusa that it is sure to whet the viewer’s appetite.
In no way meant as a negative, there are a couple of comments in the dialogue of the rusa herd importation and hybridisation history at the beginning of the DVD that at best are very debatable. This information however has come from the most recent (2006) reference book on the subject, so Dave can be forgiven for including them as part of the herd history.
Also all of the deer in the photo of the famous Hanamahihi Clearing are Red Deer, which is not alluded to in the dialogue. These are two very small points that in no way detract from the presentation.
In summary, even taking into account that rusa in NZ are by far our most difficult game animal to study, this DVD is still of exceptional quality. It is an absolute steal for $35 and a must have for all NZ hunters – even those with very little interest in the rusa!
Back Country Tales
42 NZ Hunting & Wildlife 183 – Summer 2014
Reviewed by: Trevor Dyke
From the very beginning of Back Country Tales
I felt that this was going to be something that I
would enjoy as it is made up of stories from iconic
Kiwis. The very first story tellers, Jack McKenzie
and Jack Anderson relating some of the mischief
that they used to get up to, were to set the
standard of what was to follow.
Topics covered are early farming, timber industry,
station life, the sheep dog, small rural town doctor,
deer culling and live recovery and focus around
small South Island rural towns.
The anecdotes and tales related are filled with early New Zealand South Island history and told with a bit of humour. The topics are supported with old movie footage of the activities being related. The deer cullers interviewed are Noel Jack, Ian Thyne and Mick Davison while live capture features bulldogger Jeff Carter. Timber milling features Gordon and Cyril Hayes.
I found the interviews with the high country station holders/workers very interesting; especially their comments on the high country ‘erosion’ debate. If you are into New Zealand history then this DVD will be one that you will want to add to your library.