Four photographs of moose taken by a hunter in Fiordland
almost 60 years ago have finally been revealed publicly.
Fred Stewardson (78), of Hikurangi, in Northland, took the
photographs on a hunting trip to Wet Jacket Arm in 1953.
But his older hunting companion, friend and mentor Eddie
Young, swore him to secrecy, fearing the moose would be shot
by hunters if the photographs were revealed at the time.
Only a handful of photographs of moose in Fiordland are known
to exist, most taken between 1923 and 1952.
Mr Stewardson's photographs, taken from about 70m, include
the only known photograph of a group of three moose - a bull,
a cow and its calf.
Ken Tustin, of Bull Creek, near Milton, who has spent years
searching for the descendants of the North American moose
released in Fiordland in 1910, describes the rare photographs
as "by far the best and most informative" he has seen.
He also regarded the history of the photographs as "quite an
extraordinary moose story".
"Since we've been in touch, Fred has got such a kick out of
our moose quest.
"He has rediscovered his own interest in moose and has gifted
us the use of his photos.
"He now figures the secrecy agreement has been outlived and
... when he goes, he doesn't want the story and what he knows
are very special pictures to go with him."
Mr Tustin said he learnt of the photographs too late for his
2010 book, A (Nearly) Complete History of the Moose in New
"The photos would have transformed it."
Mr Stewardson, who was dairy farming at Kakanui in the 1950s,
was always a keen hunter and photographer.
In letters to Mr Tustin, he recalled how he came across the
moose and how he rushed to take the photographs with his Agfa
Super Silette and telephoto lens.
"It's just a pity that I never took more time but it was the
excitement of seeing three wonderful animals right there and
Ed saying, `Don't shoot.
Photos, photos, photos'.
"I remember shaking trying to look and also set up the
"It all seemed to take so long.
"I'm disappointed that I didn't get a better shot of [the
cow] with her calf but I guess I mustn't complain. I'm lucky
with what I got."
The hunters tried not to startle the moose, he says.
"They didn't seem in an alarmed situation but by the photo I
think [the bull] knew something was wrong. He looks upset and
perhaps ready to charge.
"After the photos, we just moved away from the animals and
... left them to it.
"Ed was a terrific guy in not shooting everything he saw and
he taught me so much over many years hunting with him."
Mr Stewardson says he was "just the boy tagging along" and he
did as instructed by Mr Young, who told him: "Keep your mouth
shut. Don't ever tell a soul. If you do, Fiordland will have
loads of trigger-happy clowns there for slaughter. Many won't
give a damn if moose survive or not.
"When I look back now, he was so correct."
He believes the moose encounter was at the head of Wet Jacket
"I didn't really like the area - rain, mud and biting
bumblebees. Give me the Hollyford any day."
The photographs were originally colour slides but had faded
and had water stains.
"I keep looking at these snaps ... they bring back so many
great memories. Wish I was young and fit again.
"I wonder now just what happened to them in the end."
Mr Young died in 1980 and Mr Stewardson said many of his old
hunting mates were also now in "another world".
"This is why I'm so happy to pass information on.
"Once I croak, a lot of my junk will be burnt and gone
He wished Mr Tustin well in his quest to prove beyond doubt
moose are still resident in Fiordland.
"I expect some day to see your lucky moose photos. That day
can't be far away. Have faith."
Moose let loose
1900: Four young moose captured for intended release -
survivors of 14, after 10 died in a storm at sea - said to be
as tame as pet ponies and keen on eating biscuits by the time
they arrive by ship in New Zealand.
They have been imported from Canada and shipped to Greymouth
from Wellington. Railed to Hokitika, they are temporarily
kept in stables before being released near the Hokitika Gorge
on February 19, 1900.
Three animals disappear up the gorge. Some accounts suggest
at least one of these animals survived until about 1903.
The fourth, a cow, remains near Vine Creek for 14 years and
is an occasional visitor to the settlement of Koiterangi,
apparently still searching for biscuits.
1910: Ten hand-raised Canadian moose - six females and
four males - are shipped to New Zealand, arriving in
Wellington via Hobart.
After being quarantined at Somes Island for nearly two
months, they are shipped to Bluff, transferred to a
government steamer and released at Supper Cove, Dusky Sound,
Fiordland, on April 6, 1910.
One female breaks its leg at the shoulder in a fight with
another animal upon release. One cow is shot within weeks of
1923: First photograph of wild moose in New Zealand is
taken. Two animals photographed by Charles Evans at Supper
1925: Two cows seen swimming across the flooded
Seaforth River at Supper Cove, photographed by Geoffrey Todd.
1927: Two young bulls seen and photographed in the
Seaforth River by Les Murrell; a cow seen the next day.
1929: Eddie Herrick, operating on a prospecting
licence with guide Jim Muir, in March shoots a bull moose
"well past its prime".
It may have been one of the animals originally released.
1934: Eddie Herrick shoots another bull, this time in
the creek that now bears his name.
1950: Young bull shot near Supper Cove by Gordie
1951: Jim Mackintosh shoots a cow in Herrick Creek.
Robin Francis Smith shoots a cow in the Henry Burn.
1952: Max Curtis photographs a cow near the lake on
Herrick Creek. Percy Lyes shoots a bull at Herrick Creek.
This for years is considered to be the last moose shot in New
Zealand. Robin Francis Smith later takes 14 photographs of a
cow at Herrick Creek.
1953: Fred Stewardson takes photographs of three moose
in Wet Jacket Arm.
Source: Ken Tustin.