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Gun club fights for survival

‘Shot up road signs will become a common sight’

For 20 years the club ran the Kids Shoot programme alongside the police and defence force to foster community relationships and teach firearms safety at an early age. PHOTO/SUPPLIED


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Pongaroa residents fear new gun club standards to be brought in under the Arms Legislation Bill currently before parliament, could lead to the closure of the more than 120-year-old Pongaroa Gun Club.

The bill suggests increased costs of between $850 to $2500 for the added certification processes plus other unspecified costs, a “lot of money for a little club”, president Mark Wheeler said.

He said the proposed conditions for licensing and certifying gun clubs and shooting ranges would be financially crippling and would “drive a lot of clubs to the wall”.

The proposal also means clubs require consent from regional authorities.

“Many of the clubs were started long before the RMA [Resource Management Act] even existed. The costs for consenting are crippling.”

The Pongaroa Gun Club can trace its origins back to 1898 and has close to 60 members ranging in age from promising secondary school shooters to 74-year-olds.

They included farriers, former police and defence force staff, fire service personnel, pilots, and of course a lot of farmers.

“It’s a good cross section of our community.”

Wheeler said the gun club was a valuable part of the community, providing a safe and supportive environment for people to shoot competitively, recreationally, or gain a firearms license to become proficient.

“Local outdoor recreational sporting opportunities are a vital component of rural life.

“Distance often precludes travel to central locations, and the competitive nature of rural folk coupled with the social interaction clubs provide are part of the glue that keeps rural communities going.”

The club had produced national champions and New Zealand shooting representatives.

Other sporting facilities were at least an hour drive away, he said.

Most importantly, gun clubs provided structure for people to learn good gun safety skills, he said.

“The number one thing they do is firearm safety.”

Wheeler said the closure of gun clubs would mean there would be a generation of poorly trained gun users out there.

It would push people onto private land, where they might not have permission to shoot or do so in an unsafe manner.

“Gun clubs provide an important training space. [It’s] going to release people into the wild.”

Regrettably, shot up road signs would become a more common sight, he said.

He disagreed that gun clubs were places where extremist views were fostered and said more legislation wouldn’t solve anything.

He questioned why other shooting clubs like paintball and airsoft ranges, which encourage shooting people as targets, were not held to the same standards.

The proposed changes were just one more thing for rural communities to deal with and he said he was frustrated by the small submission window.

“This community is already under pressure from government policies and this is just another small chip at our way of life.

“It’s just frustrating.”

Wheeler encouraged people to make submissions on the Bill as it had wider implications.

Proposed changes in the Bill include creating a firearms registry, expanding the licensing regime to cover parts, magazines, and ammunition, and creating a licensing regime for shooting clubs and ranges.

  • Submissions close at midnight next Wednesday.
  • More information can be found online at: parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/committees-press-releases/have-your-say-on-the-arms-legislation-bill/


  1. Registration = confiscation. As Matt Robson Labour member in Helen Clark’s government said years ago when they pushed for all firearms to be registered ” Once we know where all the guns are then we can do something about them” Things haven’t changed. The United Nations is the biggest threat to our capitalistic way of life and I am sure our present Prime Minister will be off there after the next election.

  2. we will have to vote this govt out, they are out of control with the police running the proposals being put to the govt. Like the govt mission to confiscate firearms from legal people they wish to close guns clubs as well. it is this govt mission firearms, free speech, non elected race based Maori to council with full voting rights, climate change it just keeps going.

  3. Tell the Government NO. It is not their land and their is no requirement for them to even set foot on the place. If you have any members of parliament as members, revoke their membership or just charge them only for any increase in price.

  4. you better just take pictures of your Firearms now, because within 10 years that’s all you’re going to have a dream member ever have in them I feel sorry for you people I really do but without a constitution a Bill of Rights your stuck you’re at the mercy of a government that is treating you like servants not as Citizens

  5. Totally agree that this legislation will cripple or close most gun clubs. Absolutely targeting honest safe gun owners and competitors and will not make a blind bit of difference to making nz safer Will actually make it worse as it drives the sport underground When was the last incident at a gun club????

  6. If the previous firearms regulations had been properly adhered to, then Christchurch would never have happened. It was a number of administrative failures which allowed that massacre to occur.
    Administrative failures can never be fixed by more regulation of those who were acting lawfully. We are told new regulations will make us feel safer, yet we are now seeing a general arming of our police and using the very same military style, semi automatic rifles the law abiding licenced fire arms owners had to hand in.
    There is more at play here than we are being told.

  7. These draconian gun law changes are purely designed to drive people from the shooting sports. Back in year 2000 there were 468000 licensed gun owners in NZ, now we are told there are only 250000. I assume the missing 218000 simply decided a ten year license was just too difficult. Now we are faced with a five year license and the police acknowledgement that the ten year license never helped them prevent or solve a single crime.

  8. This government is hell-bent on imposing United Nations’ views of totally disarming civilian populations. Any effort to achieve this is taken. The current tranche of proposals has very little to do with controlling criminals, but do demonise law abiding firearms owners and users. Persecuting the llaw abiding and pricing them out of the sport seems to be their primary aim.

  9. None of the changes if in place 5 years ago would have prevented Christchurch, our Govt agencies responsible to prevent this type of person being among us let us down, and its now our problem.

  10. Hi are police and govt. so naive to think that placing more financial burden and closing of gun clubs will make NZ safer,you need to think again as nearly all of these place strict rules and training to all members and promote the proper and safe use of fire arms.
    Or do learners go out and shoot at any thing for target practice with no thought to safety and firing zones.

  11. The proposed legislation is an absolute joke! Why penalize every day law abiding Kiwis when we all know it’s the unlicensed criminals that pose the problem. These proposed laws won’t do anything positive at all!

  12. Because of compliance with health and safety and a plethora of other rules shooting sports already have dispersed to unofficial locations such as simulated field shoots. Such laws as proposed will close more long time venues in favour of casual opportunity wherever that may occur

  13. The New Zealand licenced gun owners are the most law abiding and upright citizens in the country .Please do not punish them in the new gun laws .It will do Absolutely nothing for public safety. But it will kill of a long tradition of shooting sports, that have so very much, enriched New Zealand Culture for over a century .

  14. “Show me the money”! They gave away money to the “victims” and now need to get some back and what better way than to penalise law abiding citizens with exhorbitant charges and fees.

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