Is ‘Safari’ The Right Word To Describe A New Zealand Hunt?
By Simon Guild.
Here in New Zealand, we seem to have adopted the word ‘safari’ as our own. Now, you may call me pedantic, but I cannot recall ever going on a safari as a kid. When we went hunting, it was either ‘going deer stalking’ or ‘going on a hunt’ – standard terms in the Kiwi vernacular that have always been used in relation to the recreation of hunting in this country.
Is there such a thing as a New Zealand Hunting Safari?
Why is it then, that you often you see many New Zealand based hunting businesses offering ‘safaris’ – even so far as to include the word in their name (e.g. Joe Bloggs NZ Safaris)? Are we that unimaginative as a nation that we cannot help but poach a term that I feel is endemic to Africa? I could be wrong, but I know of no other country as a hunting destination outside this vast continent that uses the term frequently to describe their hunting expeditions.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the Swahili word safari means “long journey.” The word entered the English lexicon in the 19th century and was often used to describe the pursuit of big game animals, so I can understand why people have taken it as a generic term to apply to adventures of this nature. But I don’t hear about people going on a stag safari in Scotland (that is very much ‘stalking’ country) or an elk safari in Montana (pretty sure you’d go ‘hunting’ in Montana, right)?
But the thing that really gets me is the term ‘safari park’. People apply this description to enclosed hunting areas of all sizes. To me, the word ‘park’ brings up images of a relatively small, flat, grassy urban space. Indeed, some hunting areas are small areas of land, often just a few hundred acres, with almost a kind of ‘zoo-like’ feel. But to call a large game estate a safari park just doesn’t give the right impression – of either the property or the word ‘safari’.
Describing a hunt properly – is ‘Safari’ really appropriate?
Put it this way – you’d be hard pressed to conduct a ‘long journey’ in some of the places that get called safari parks and I would expect this would be met with bewilderment by the true African safari operators.
Surely NZ, we can come up with our own terminology that better reflects our own unique animals and environment. At the very least, we should drop a term that has zero relevance to the locals here in NZ that hunt. For what it’s worth, you’ll never hear the word ‘safari’ being used in reference to hunting on High Peak.