The lady and the possum

A brush-tailed opossum in the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1957/0147-F. Alexander Turnbull Library.

A brush-tailed opossum in the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Negatives of the Evening Post newspaper. Ref: EP/1957/0147-F. Alexander Turnbull Library.

In my search for an image for the previous post, I stumbled across this photographic treasure from 1957: a possum in the care of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Knowing what we know today about the destructive impact of these furry marsupials, it is easy to dismiss this image as a quaint artefact of a misguided era.

But perhaps this caring woman knows better.

A possum is an animal worthy of the same humane treatment that any household pet deserves – it is only by virtue of being in the wrong place (through our actions) that it has become a ‘pest’ of such magnitude.

Possums “doing good in the bush”

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The opossum. A ground berry-eater, that helps build fences!

In a similar vein to my previous post about the little German owl, I found another insightful gem about possums, from the official report of the 15th national conference of acclimatisation societies in 1926:

“The Government had appointed Professor Kirk to inquire into opossums and the Forestry Department had also appointed an independent man. Both had come to the conclusion, namely, that opossums did no damage to Native trees. [The President] knew himself that the boards looking after certain scenic reserves had been able to obtain quite a large revenue from the opossums,* and had been thus able to fence the reserves, so that in that way the opossums were doing good in the bush.” Continue reading

Was the little German owl really a ruthless killer, or was this a case of ‘ecological racism’?

A German owl. Looks pretty harmless to me!

A German owl. Looks pretty harmless to me!

While perusing historical minute books of the New Zealand acclimatisation societies, I came across this gem, from the ‘Presidential address’ at their national conference in 1932:

“The German owl was killing out a tremendous number of native birds, and it should be the duty of the societies to wage war upon it. There was a division of opinion concerning the magpie, which was useful to farmers, but his society considered that only definitely proved killers should be destroyed.” Continue reading

Storm of shame

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A juvenile seal entangled in plastic

The storm that visited Wellington last week was dramatic. It left countless homes and businesses flooded, one man dead, and transport links paralyzed. In Kapiti, where I live, we had one month’s worth of rain in one day.

The storm had another dramatic, and revealing, effect. It left Kapiti’s beaches smothered in a deluge of debris, washed down streams and waterways swollen by the heavy rain. Continue reading

Wainui – a beautiful river

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The lower reaches of the Wainui River. Photo: C. Knight

In a recent trip to Golden Bay (named for its goldfields, discovered near Collingwood in 1857, though it could equally be named for its golden sand beaches), I had the privilege of visiting a wild river. Continue reading

The river as a metaphor

wairau-riverMy call out for poems about New Zealand rivers got an immediate response! Thank you to a certain olive farmer of Awatere Valley, who alerted me to this poem by Eileen Duggan. Certainly one from the “river as a metaphor” file – for love, in this case. The metaphors come thick and fast in this one! Continue reading