Hunter thought woman was an animal

HUNTING ACCIDENT: Secondary School teacher Margaret Ives died while camping.
HUNTING ACCIDENT: Secondary School teacher Margaret Ives died while camping.

The death of a woman shot by a hunter who mistook her for a deer is a freakish event, the Deerstalkers' Association president says.

Alec McIver said it was "very unusual" for a hunter to mistake a member of the public for a target.

"You are quite safe out there. This is just a really unusual situation which obviously should never have happened," he told NZPA.

The accident rate was very low when compared to the number of people who used New Zealand forests, he said.

Rosemary Margaret Ives, a 25-year-old secondary school teacher from Lower Hutt, was on a camping holiday near Turangi when she was shot dead on Friday night.

The hunter was illegally "spot lighting" and shooting on public land, Mr McIver said.

He said it was likely the man had been shooting from a vehicle, but he couldn't confirm that until he had more details.

Mr McIver said it was a "terrible accident" which tarnished the reputation of all hunters.

"Just like people getting behind the wheel and driving a car when they're drunk and killing someone - it just takes a few idiots to make the majority look bad," he said.

Mr McIver said it was crucial for hunters to identify their target.

"If you can't identify it totally, then don't shoot, just move on to the next one."

A 25-year-old Hamilton man was charged with careless use of a firearm and will appear in Taupo District Court on November 3.

The newspaper said it understood he shot her from the road alongside the camp site, after seeing her in his spotlight and thinking she was a deer or possum.

Ms Ives was reportedly brushing her teeth when she was shot in the head.

Her partner and other campers spent 90 minutes trying to keep her alive in the area of bush, rescue helicopter pilot Hendry De Waal told the Herald on Sunday newspaper.

She died metres from her tent in the Department of Conservation campsite on Kaimanawa Rd, about 15km south of Turangi.

Ms Ives and her partner were camping alongside four trampers from Wellington and four backpackers from the Czech Republic.

After the shooting the hunters ran to the nearby campsite for help. A man there who rushed to help the woman aid the scene was "ghastly".

NZPA