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History of New Elk compiled by Grant Muir 2007. Revised 2014

 Managing President Teddy Rosevelts elk in New Zealand since 1910

Farming elk in New Zealand since 1980

New Zealand Elk & Wapiti Society established October 29th 1986

Elk and Wapiti have been farmed in New Zealand since the early 1980’s. No deer are indigenous to New Zealand and the first elk successfully introduced were into Fiordland in 1905. These 18 animals interbred with red deer in the wilds of Fiordland over the ensuing 70 years and the cross became known as Wapiti. Live-capture of these Wapiti out of Fiordland was the basis of farmed Wapiti in New Zealand.


In the 1980's live elk were again imported from North America and some amazing genectics were sourced for the farmed elk herds in New Zealand. The outbreak of CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) in North America stopped any further importation of any form of genetic material for biosecurity reasons in 1998. The history of Elk and Wapiti in New Zealand is not much more than a century long but has been colourful.Elk and Wapiti have hybridised with red deer since deer have been farmed in New Zealand but the national breeding herd is essentially red deer based. While Elk and Wapiti play a huge role in the production of venison in New Zealand, numerically they are estimated to make up less than 10% of deer numbers in New Zealand.


The Elk and Wapiti Society was formed in 1986 by a group of enthusiasts. That very first day is recorded here in three scanned pages pg 1 - pg 2 - pg 3.  Sir Tim Wallis, an industry pioneer was the society’s first President. Passionate members have since the society’s inception played an active role in promoting the breed and all things relating to Elk and Wapiti.

At our 30th year celebration in January 2017  former Society secretary and now retired Deer Industry New Zealand Producer manager Tony Pearse delivered an address that detailed the societies history. The delivery of this address can only be described as very memorable. That delivery was and will be an historic event on its own but the actual factual account of our societies history as detailed by Tony can be read here  

Callum McLean potenial new generation Wapiti Society member on the receiving end of a trophy.

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