Part 14: Financial performance of the fish and game council sector

Local government: Results of the 2006/07 audits.

Overview of the fish and game council sector

This Part provides an overview of the financial performance of the entities in the fish and game council sector. It continues our practice of reporting, in turn, the financial performance of the smaller sectors that fall within the Auditor-General’s mandate.

Under section 15 of the Public Audit Act 2001, the Auditor-General is the auditor of the New Zealand Fish and Game Council (operating as Fish and Game New Zealand), 12 regional fish and game councils, and the New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Trust Board.

Entities in the fish and game council sector report under the Public Finance Act 1989 (amended by the Public Finance Amendment Act 2004) and the Crown Entities Act 2004. Fish and game councils must prepare financial statements that comply with generally accepted accounting practice and fairly reflect their financial position.

Fish and game councils have a statutory responsibility for the sports of freshwater fishing and game bird hunting. Their role is to manage, maintain, and enhance the sport’s fish and game in the recreational interests of anglers and hunters. Each council has 12 members, elected from the holders of fishing and hunting licences of the region. The regional fish and game councils are supported by Fish and Game New Zealand, to which they each elect one member. Fish and Game New Zealand represents anglers and hunters on issues of national importance.

The New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Trust Board is a charitable organisation established under the Wildlife Amendment Act 1993. It is a fourth schedule Crown entity as defined by the Public Finance Act 1989. It is funded by Fish and Game New Zealand from the proceeds of its Game Bird Habitat postal stamp programme. The purpose of the trust is to improve New Zealand’s game bird habitat and to improve the habitat of other wildlife.

Overview of financial performance

The information in Figure 14.1 is based on figures extracted from the most recently audited financial statements. Audit opinions are usually signed within four months of the balance date for all 12 regions and the two national bodies. The fish and game council sector has a 31 August balance date.

The benefit of having all financial statements for the fish and game councils completed on time is that assurance can be gained that the funds held for managing the councils are being correctly accounted for, without the risk of losing records as time goes on, as is a risk in many of the smaller sectors.

One of the major changes for the fish and game councils in the past three years has been the move to a national licence distributor called Eyede®. The councils previously had a manual, internal system for collecting licence fee revenue, maintained by each of the councils.

Eyede® streamlines how licences are sold and maintains a centralised database. The database also ensures information privacy between the 12 different regions through the use of usernames and passwords.

Although most fish and game councils use Eyede®, some use it only for internet, mail order, and telephone sales. They still use their own internal system for manual and agent sales. The few councils that take this approach are satisfied with its efficiency at this stage.

Figure 14.1
Summary of audited financial information for 2007, in the fish and game council sector

Entity name Revenue ($) Expenses ($) Cash and
funds held ($)
Equity ($)
New Zealand Fish and Game Council 2,313,944 2,367,971 1,581,092 1,474,594
New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Trust Board 122,849 105,246 703,479 778,087
Central South Island 1,034,313 921,516 79,248 715,310
Eastern 1,757,063 1,656,088 786,375 1,780,913
Hawke’s Bay 433,292 382,354 549,684 798,229
Nelson-Marlborough 516,085 536,809 144,511 536,166
North Canterbury 1,297,932 1,152,389 537,978 1,054,418
Northland 352,595 337,059 749,010 841,908
Otago 1,484,906 1,236,676 896,109 2,306,152
Southland 1,217,225 1,121,584 317,878 904,722
Taranaki 294,719 213,402 342,224 806,352
Waikato/Auckland 958,550 896,193 758,675 976,978
Wellington 556,585 578,586 213,367 330,206
West Coast 290,262 247,603 536,635 629,912
12,630,320 11,753,476 8,196,265 13,933,947

Although many fish and game councils would like to see an increase in participation and the number of licences sold, there are no concerns about the viability of the sector, as expenditure is generally well managed. Most fish and game councils have experienced reduced licence sales during the past decade (generally attributed to increasing fuel prices and the requirement to travel further as a result of access and water quality issues, and the competition provided by other recreational options). However, indications are that licence sales are levelling. Indeed, this year has signalled an improvement that is expected to continue into coming years.

The sector has informed us that fish and game councils are concerned that a significant portion of their expenditure is spent on habitat protection (for example, water conservation orders and legal challenges to resource consent applications for water abstraction and hydro-generation). Councils understand and consider that other public entities have direct statutory responsibility for habitat protection. In their view, if these entities fulfilled their role, it would enable fish and game councils to focus their resources on their core purpose of managing, maintaining, and enhancing sports fish and game.

Fish and game councils have been subject to the New Zealand equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standard (NZ IFRS) requirements from 2006/07. Discretion with the adoption date means that some will not adopt NZ IFRS until 2007/08. The transition has not significantly affected the sector yet. We do not anticipate any problems as the remaining fish and game councils move to NZ IFRS in the coming financial year.


The sector is generally well managed and it is pleasing to note its sound current state of affairs.

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