29 April 2019
[FYI request #9818 email]
Dear GT Potaka
Thank you for your Official Information Act request to the Department of
Conservation, dated 10 March 2019.
On 26 March 2019 we extended your request to 19 April 2019 due to the consultation
Your questions and our responses are listed below:
1. What is the current legal status of the Wild Kaimanawa Horse Herd?
This horse herd has no legal protection. Protection was removed in 1996 to
facilitate management of the herd around the Department of Conservation’s
principal concern over the physical impacts of the horses on the area’s unique
assemblage of threatened plants and habitats.
2. If the Kaimanawa Wild Horse herd has no legal protection any more are
they able to be hunted on DOC lands?
Yes, on the condition that hunters hold a DOC hunting permit. However, the
department is not currently aware of any of these horses within Kaimanawa
3. What happened to the 37 horses (30 adults and 7 juveniles) documented in
the Northern Zone 2017 count?
These horses were discussed with the Kaimanawa Wild Horse Advisory Group
(KWHAG). As these horses were in the total control zones where even a single
horse will impact on ecological values or posed a safety concern to SH1 the
decision was made to remove these horses.
4. Were these shot? If so was this carried out by DOC staff or were private
Yes, a total of 22 horses were euthanised. DOC staff aerially surveyed the
bands of horses to be controlled first and then the control operation was
undertaken by an approved aerial operator under the supervision of an equine
veterinarian. The other horses had moved onto private land prior to the
Department of Conservation Te Papa Atawhai
PO Box 528, Taupo 3351,
5. How many horses from the Kaimanawa herd were shot with DOC
knowledge or consent in - a) 2015, b) 2016, c) 2017 d) 2018
Other than the aerial control operation mentioned above, the number of
horses and reason for euthanising are broken down by year:
• 2015 Nil
• 2016 1 x injured horse
• 2017 1 x broken leg, 1 x hit by motorbike, 9 x Safety issue State Highway 1
• 2018 1 x starving, April/June musters x 7 unfit for rehoming due to
6. When was the latest Kaimanawa Wild Horse "count" carried out and what
was the official number recorded a) In Northern Zones and b) in Southern
The last count was performed on 11 and 12 February 2019. The count
information is below:
• Horse count blocks 304 Adults, 70 Juveniles – a total 374 horses
• Northern Zones 8 horses total. (These were found in the area where
horses were surveyed but not controlled in the previous aerial control
operation. These would not be targeted as a one-off operation unless
there were other horse bands to control at the same time).
7. Which specific areas or zones are the 16 plant species listed as endangered
found? (I request a map with detailed distribution of the affected plants)
Please see attached maps.
8. What documented detrimental effects have other introduced animals (Hares,
Pigs, Deer) had on the endangered plant species and what interventions
have been employed to mitigate or eliminate these effects.
As this is NZ Defence Land, the Department does not monitor the detrimental
effects of other introduced animals on the endangered plant species. The
department has an agreement with NZ Defence to support the Horse
monitoring and muster. Other work to preserve the endangered plant species
is led by NZ Defence.
The Department is aware NZ Defence undertake the following work:
• Control of hare numbers by aerial shooting;
• Reduction of deer numbers to low levels by allowing recreational hunting.
9. What studies and counts have been undertaken of deer and pigs in the same
areas as the Kaimanawa Wild Horses and the effects on the endangered
plant species? Please give numbers and dates.
The department has not undertaken any studies or counts and is not aware of
any studies or counts undertaken by other parties.
10. Why are the annual counts not made public and why is the Kaimanawa Wild
Horse Management Plan not up to date?
Annual counts are made public via media releases post surveys. This is what
rehoming groups use as a basis for rehoming. The 1995 Kaimanawa Wild
Horse Management Plan (KWHMP) has not been superseded. An
operational plan has been developed to support the KWHMP which focuses
on managing the herd at a sustainable level which minimises the impact on
the protected areas.
The current working plan can be found https://www.doc.govt.nz/about-
Damian Coutts, Director Operations
Central North Island Region