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Strategic thinker . . .

Steve Scragg stepped aside from the Eastern Region Fish and Game Council last year after more than 20 years. He talked to reporter Murray Robertson about his more than 20 years on the council . . .

Those who worked alongside Steve Scragg applaud his input and the significant difference he made to the quality of the region’s hunting and fishing resource.

The 58-year-old joined the council 21 years ago, including two years as chairman. He stood down at the last game council election in August last year.

“I got involved in the council years ago because of my interests in sport and fly fishing and game bird-hunting,” Steve said.

“I was young and passionate about the resource habitat and back then I had concerns about the direction Fish and Game were taking at the time.”

His concerns were basically around the ongoing management at that time.

“In my view in 1994 it was tantamount to doing things that shouldn’t have been done, like shifting the ownership of some property and creating a holding company.

“Management then borrowed some money to do that, and they should not have.”

The incoming council he was part of that year appointed new management and Steve was part of the decision-making around it.

Former council chairman Barry Roderick said “Steve has always been a straight shooter. He tells it how he sees it.

“He has also always been a strategic thinker and got into Fish and Game young enough that he wasn’t set in his ways.

“He was able to bring good policies to the council table for debate,” Barry said.?

“In my view, Steve has made a significant difference, and was always a team player. He always had strong views, but if he didn’t get the result he wanted, he abided by the council’s decision.

“So he understood governance very well.”

Steve said the appointment of the skilled people required in managerial roles enabled the council to run as a business.

“It has to be run professionally and we needed to have the right people in the roles once the council had set up the correct policies and management structures.”

He said the game council had become a very stable organisation now.

“They have very highly skilled staff members who do a fantastic job. To the point that other regions around New Zealand seek those staff members out for assistance and they are also consulted widely by the New Zealand Fish and Game Council.”

Steve said he had got a lot of satisfaction out of seeing the Eastern Region council turn around.

“It’s become a strong and united one with a good fish and game bird management plan and sound policies that direct them moving forward.

“It targets things like water quality, fish habitat, access issues, fish and game bird populations.

“It also monitors those populations, gets involved with wetland work, and obviously enforcement of the fishing and hunting regulations.”

He believes the changes have definitely created a better fishing and hunting environment in this region.

“Also there is a clear understanding of where the resources are, the fish and the game, and how they are used.

“We were not afraid 20 years ago to make decisions for the betterment of the resource,” Steve said.

“Our fish and game and the environment they live in are all better off for those decisions.”

Eastern Region Fish and Game Council manager Andy Garrick said, “Steve’s 20-year tenure on the council was quite remarkable.

“It was quite an achievement to do what he did over that period.”

Mr Garrick said he made quite a significant long-term contribution.

“Absolutely — Steve represented the interests of East Coast anglers and game hunters extremely well, and he championed the interests of women and children particularly well.

“He stood up for what he believed in.”

Steve Scragg works in sales for Harbourview Marine in Gisborne.

“I’ve got more time on my hands now and I would like to be able to say more time to go fishing and hunting.

“But, to be honest, I spend more time doing a bit more work.

“I do try to spend more time with my family, which is good.”

Steve Scragg stood for the Gisborne District Council twice in the two elections prior to 2016. He only missed by a couple of hundred votes the second time. He said he has no intention of ever standing again. He was also a member of the East Coast Conservation Board for a short time. Steve is currently an appointee to the New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Trust. As a youngster he attended Riverdale Primary, Gisborne Intermediate and Lytton High School. He trained as a marine mechanic when he left school, then later ran the Chef Bar Takeaways in Gisborne for about 12 years. Steve also spent some time selling used and rental cars. He is married to Fiona and the couple have three sons — Brendan (30), Cameron (26) and Lachlan (25).

Former long-time Eastern Region Fish and Game Council member Steve Scragg left his mark on the organisation which is, in his words, ‘a very stable organisation now’. He is pictured at his place of work, Harbourview Marine. Pictures by Liam Clayton
Steve Scragg.