Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 25 February 2010 Contents LOCAL NEWS
25 February, 2010 | Page 3
There are many people who love
the idea that a population of wild
moose, released into the Fiordland
National Park almost 100 years
ago, could still exist today, unseen
by humans for decades. However,
for most, it's an idealistic vision;
little more than a romantic notion
enhanced by the vastness of
Fiordland and the many secrets it
Ken Tustin, however, has no doubt
whatsoever that a population of
moose survives in Fiordland and
he's dedicated a huge part of his
life to proving it.
It would be fair to say that the
moose has become Fiordland's
Loch Ness Monster and that's an
analogy Mr Tustin is comfortable
"It's a lovely tale and if it's
unresolved in most people's
minds, great," he said.
"Isn't it great we have enduring
mysteries even in 2010. I sort of
like the idea that humans think
they control the planet but here's
a thing the size of a horse living
not too far from Te Anau."
Mr Tustin's efforts to prove
the moose's existence are
documented in his book A Wild
Moose Chase, released in 1998.
Now he's written a second
book which is due for release in
April, coinciding with the 100th
anniversary since the release of
moose into Fiordland.
Actually it's his third book but the
second, which Mr Tustin describes
as his "monument" has yet to win
favour with a publisher. It's about
Himalayan Tahr, his first love, but
they don't appear to have the
same the same public appeal and
mystique as moose.
He's titled the new book A (Nearly)
Complete History of the Moose
in New Zealand, and in it has
attempted to document every
moose encounter in Fiordland --
be it a shooting, a sighting, a cast
antler or the discovery of moose
remains -- since their release and,
as far as possible, recounted in
that person's own words.
Researching the book took time
and effort. Many people had been
reluctant to tell their stories over
the years because they may have
shot a moose and feared doing so
was illegal, they wanted to protect
the animal or they didn't want to
"People think only about five were
ever shot. I've got 25 (accounts),"
Mr Tustin said.
"There's quite a few surprises in
While he's passionate about his
quest, first and foremost Mr Tustin
is a scientist. He approaches every
story or sign of evidence with a
healthy scepticism and said only
credible stories had made it into
the book. There are 80, previously
unpublished, new moose
encounters detailed in the book.
"The moose history book fills in a
heck of a lot of puzzling gaps," he
said. "It's more than just a moose
story -- it's social history that finds
its way through people."
Among the encounters are Mr
Tustin's own. Over the years the
biologist and former helicopter
pilot has documented moose
footprints, droppings and browsing
-- some so fresh he reckons
he missed a sighting by mere
hours, maybe even minutes. It's
a position he's been in about a
dozen times in his life and yet he
has no regrets.
"I don't care if I don't see one.
I don't expect to see one. But
someone will and I hope that
the footprint we've made draw
people's attention to it; that the
message will go out."
The new book has given Mr Tustin
the opportunity to update and
publish his own encounters.
But this story, as the book's name
suggests, is far from complete and
Mr Tustin's search continues.
His work takes a four-pronged
• looking at the ecology of the
moose as best he can in the
absence of the animal itself
• attempting to photograph a
wild moose using a series of still
cameras mounted in the bush
• ongoing study of DNA material
found recently and attempting to
locate more for analysis
• ongoing research into the
history of the Fiordland moose,
such as is documented in the new
"Each arm is being actively
pursued, not with obsessive
degradation, just plodding on
having fun with it," he said.
Book reveals more moose encounters
Ken Tustin reflecting on some of the many previously unheralded Fiordland
moose encounters he has unearthed for publication in his new book due for
release in April.
By Kirsty Macnicol
The former Waiau airstrip, just
outside Te Anau, is back on
the market after the Te Anau
Community Board last week
voted to reject both of the tenders
received for the land.
Two bids had been received when
tenders closed on January 29 --
one for $1.1 million, subject to
a property sale and finance and
the other for $150,000 for the
two sections south of Golf Course
Airport chief executive Cameron
McIntosh said neither tender was
considered "a reasonable price".
Reasons for the limited interest
was unknown but one explanation
for the current flat residential
market was the Government's
signalled tax changes which could
include a land tax.
The board recommended the
property continue to be marketed
by PGG Wrightson, with an option
for a fixed term lease should it not
Proceeds from the sale of the
airfield are tagged to offset the
deficit from the building of the
new airport at Manapouri.
Because the airfield has not
yet sold, the previous decision
to maintain the airport rate at
$176.60 per property remains
Waiau airstrip tenders rejected
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