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Similarly, English blackneck pheasants, Chinese ringnecks and Mongolian pheasants were liberated in New Zealand. These birds quickly hybridised to produce a unique pheasant. Although unique, the bird is still classified as Phasianus Colchicus (common pheasant). Looking, to all intents and purposes, like a robust Chinese ringneck, this pheasant adopted many areas of New Zealand as its own. It is available, in good numbers, to hunt throughout the nation. This, of course, lead to a healthy population of gundog enthusiasts… and it is this that forms the purpose of this article.

The ownership of Poronui has experienced many changes during the past 120 years - and some have been colourful to reflect on. Religious groups have owned the property setting it up as their very own "Utopia". Through most all of its history, the property has operated as a working ranch.
Head Fishing Guide, Mark Aspinall, and General
Manager, Eve Reilly, land a 10 lb. rainbow.

In the 1970’s, Joe Howard, of the famous English aristocracy family, purchased the property. His family moved from the UK to take up residence at Poronui. They farmed here for several years, building a magnificent homestead which, sadly, burned down in an accidental fire. (A strange parallel exists in that Castle Howard, the family seat in England, also suffered from fire damage.) Many of the traditions of English estates were instilled at the property by the Howards. The private waters flowing across the pumice valleys were restricted only to friends and guests of the owners.

The Howards then sold most of the property to New Zealand timber company, Carter-Holt, who planted sustainable forestry over much of the 16,000 acres. Shamus Howard, the son of Joe, took over - running his Sika deer farm on the 2000 acres retained by the family. He also established the - now famous - helicopter transport company, Heli-Sika, in the heart of the Poronui estate. Heli-Sika, to this day, provides a transport service to hunters and anglers. Simultaneously, Taupo adventure guide, Simon Dickie, entered into an agreement with Carter-Holt to establish a sporting lodge on the area owned by the timber company… and the embryonic "Poronui Ranch" was born. Starting off with a rustic fishing camp, Simon was able to open the Poronui streams and hunting, that had previously been closed, making it available to anyone staying at his lodge. This was the turning point. Anglers and hunters the world over were now able to enjoy the pristine wilderness that is Poronui.

Among the guests to make the journey was Mark Blake, a San Francisco based businessman. You may recall the old TV advertisement for Remington razors where the man liked the product so much that he bought the company? The same applies to Poronui. Mark Blake was not only taken with the superb fishing he enjoyed at Poronui, but like so many before him, he was drawn to the landscape and fell in love with the magic that pervades everything about Poronui. There is no justice that can be done to this feeling with words. To understand the meaning of this, you must experience Poronui in person… it’s the only way.

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