Woman at home in wilderness

Otago Fish and Game councillor Vicky White is flanked by the Clutha River near her home town of...
Otago Fish and Game councillor Vicky White is flanked by the Clutha River near her home town of Roxburgh. Ms Whyte is encouraging more women to get involved in both fishing and hunting and Fish and Game governance. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Roxburgh woman Vicky Whyte has for years been one of only two female Fish and Game councillors nationwide. Pam Jones talks to the back country advocate about getting more women into governance and getting outdoors.

How does it feel to be one of only two female Fish and Game councillors nationwide? Are you a torchbearer for women locally or nationwide, or does gender not really matter when it comes to governance?

Being a woman governing in a male domain has been an interesting experience. Most women like to work fast and accomplish the task ahead quickly, so the politics and bureaucracy [of Fish and Game] can make me impatient. In saying that, I have been very lucky to work alongside such a dedicated team and respected councillors.

I would like to encourage other women to stand up and be counted in Fish and Game, especially if you care about your children's future in regards to water quality, environmental and habitat issues. Governance is enriched when women are seen as equals and given equal responsibilities.

Where did your interest in fishing and hunting come from, and what is your best back country story?

I grew up as a tomboy and lived most of my life on Mt Bourke Station in the Wanaka area. Hunting with my father was the way of life and survival, and I also used to do predator control, such as rabbit shooting and possumming.

I remember one time when I wanted to learn to drive, aged 12. Dad had a Land-Rover at the time. We were tracking a rather huge stag and ended up heading up a steep gully. Dad spots the stag, tells me to carry on up the hill, we will meet at the top. He jumps out. Here I am left in the Land-Rover on steep ground thinking to myself oh ... so that was my first hill start! I finally made it to the top.

How would you describe the benefits of getting out in the back country? Would you like to see more women involved in fishing and recreational hunting, and how could that be achieved?

I believe women need to experience the back county - it's breathtaking, just the scenery alone. Sitting on the bank with a fishing rod in among the tussocks on a warmish day is bliss. No cell phone cover is even better. My advice to anyone who may be keen to take up this sport is just simply start small. Just take some time, with a book (how to fish) and your nibbles and flask of hot coffee - you will have a great day!

Fish and Game Otago are running fishing lessons for women, so keep an eye out or contact the office for information. I have also suggested that Back to the Wilderness hunting packs for women is another initiative Fish and Game could offer. This will include having a mentor to hunt with. Once again, start small and keep it affordable.

How do you juggle the many aspects of your life: your involvement in governance, running your lifestyle block in the Teviot Valley, being a mother of school-aged children, volunteering for St John and also being the secretary of the Teviot Angling Club?

I just take one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.

Everything I am involved with is a passion and if you believe in what you do then it's not really difficult to accomplish.

I am a solo mum and, yes, life gets extremely difficult, but no matter what I am involved with my children and their needs definitely come first.

What satisfaction do you get from your St John work?

I am privileged to be involved with a fantastic organisation such as St John. I have been with them for about 18 years. I am the divisional manager of the Roxburgh Youth St John and work with two lovely women who assist with the children. They are all very caring, dedicated and amazing children. They are what our future will need.

I also volunteer for operations (ambulance), holding the qualification of emergency medical technician, and I am also a casual for the medical alarm side of St John.

What other interests do you have, and what do you like about the Teviot Valley?

The Teviot Valley has been an excellent place to raise my children. The people of the Teviot Valley are exceptional, especially in the way we come together through tough times.

When I can squeeze in free time I like to go tramping or cuddle up on the couch with my two girls and just simply watch a movie.

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