Coronavirus: Government yet to decide whether hunting is allowed under alert level 3

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has clarified the Government's stance on hunting under alert level 3 after an "error" on the Ministry of Health website said it wasn't allowed.

Many New Zealand hunters were surprised and disappointed by the decision as hunting is considered safer than other activities which will be allowed when the alert level decreases.

But during Friday's 1pm press conference Robertson said the Government is still deciding whether Kiwis will be able to hunt at level 3.

"There isn't a ban on hunting," he said. "What there is is a piece of work that is underway at the moment which will see if it can safely go ahead at level 3.

"I believe the website may have had an error on it yesterday which said hunting was banned. That work is underway right now to consider whether or not it can take place at level 3.

"I just want to reiterate the principles we are trying to apply here which are about making sure that we keep people safe as possible that we are involved in low-risk activities, and hunting for some very clear reasons has some high risks attached to it but if it can be done safely is what we are now assessing and that work will be finished as we come in to early next week."

Act leader David Seymour said earlier on Friday that banning hunting was "illogical".

"A 2017 study conducted on behalf of New Zealand Search and Rescue showed that between 2010 and 2017, 29 people died while hunting. The study also recorded 70 swimming and 56 tramping fatalities over the same period. Both swimming and tramping are allowed at alert level 3.

"Hunting is a safe activity. Any risks can be minimised if hunters go with people in their bubble, don't take learners, take time-limited trips, leave notices of intentions, and take forms of emergency contact with them."

He also pointed out that many Kiwis depend on hunting for their livelihoods.

"Hunting is not just a recreational activity. Many New Zealanders hunt as a means of providing food for their families and whanau."

The spokesperson for Fair and Reasonable, a firearms legislation campaign, Nicole McKee said before the announcement on Friday the rules felt like "a slap in the face".

"I am struggling to understand the ban under alert level 3 when other activities with higher injury rates than hunting can go ahead.

"A friend made the point that he feels safer going solo in the bush for a day hunt than going to his local supermarket. And for many, it's not just a sport or a lifestyle, it's a way of supplementing food and filling the freezer.

"We could live with 'hunt but only in your region' - or 'hunt, but you must take these precautions so that it is safe'."

New Zealand Deerstalkers Association National President Trevor Chappell had called for the Government to rethink their stance.

"From where the NZDA sits we cannot understand why hunting has been deemed inherently "unsafe" by the Government. This means the Government must not have taken appropriate expert advice or, if they have, that advice was misguided or not verified. 

"There is still time for the Government to do the right thing and adjust the guidelines for hunters."

They encouraged the Government to talk to a range of hunting organisations including the Game Council, Fish and Game, and Mountain Safety Council to get a deeper understanding of the industry.