Venison a welcome addition

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Game Animal Council's Tim Gale delivers venison mince to Vikki Stevenson and Paul Smith, of the Salvation Army's Southern Division. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

VENISON is on the menu for New Zealand families in need thanks to an annual deer cull, which will provide meat for foodbanks.

The deer cull in Fiordland National Park will provide 18,000kg of venison to New Zealand foodbanks and families in need.

The Fiordland Wapiti Foundation typically would remove up to 1000 animals during the cull, and this year has partnered with the Game Animal Council and the Department of Conservation (Doc) for the initiative.

Fiordland Wapiti Foundation president Roy Sloan said, weather permitting, by the end of July 600 deer from Fiordland National Park would be removed for processing into 18,000 1kg wild venison mince packets.

“These are being distributed by a charitable supply chain distributor to foodbanks throughout the country. This will feed thousands of New Zealand families in need.”

Export markets had been affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Game Animal Council general manager Tim Gale said with the loss of venison markets, the initiative would assist in keeping meat processing staff employed as well as help local helicopter operators while providing protein to Kiwi families in need.

“Managing the impacts that deer have on Fiordland is a win-win for both recreation and conservation.”

The project was jointly funded by Doc and the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation with the Game Animal Council administering the programme.

Salvation Army Southern Division Community Ministries director Vikki Stevenson said the venison would be a welcome addition to food parcels for many.

“Many of our clients can’t afford the high cost of meat, and go most weeks with very little protein in their diets, simply because of the cost.”

While levels of demand for food parcels had decreased to pre-Covid-19 numbers in many parts of New Zealand, Queenstown was seeing consistently high demand for food, with many people having lost jobs in the tourism and hospitality sector and, for migrant workers, being unable to access benefits.

“We’re so grateful for the generosity of those who donate to those who are finding themselves without an income; many for the first time in their lives,” Mrs Stevenson said.

Doc chief of governance Mervyn English said it was a great example of organisations working together to achieve an outcome with many benefits.

“Getting this project going was possible only because of the collaboration between the Game Animal Council, Fiordland Wapiti Foundation, Doc, and Fare Game Meat Processors.”

Safari Club International (NZ), New Zealand Deerstalkers Association, Central North Island Sika Foundation, Tahr Foundation and NZ Hunter Magazine would help with transport and promotion, he said.

Celebrity food writer Nadia Lim, Christchurch chef Richard Hingston and Ngai Tahu had also designed some simple and tasty recipes to help inspire the recipients to make the most out of the venison.

The project could be expanded to other parts of the country.

For the recipes go to the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation website www.fwf.net.nz.

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