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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 7, Issue 4, 2012

The Benefits of Acclimatisation — Newspaper Extracts

page 58

The Benefits of Acclimatisation

Newspaper Extracts

2/8/1891. “Every one must regret the necessity which arose to introduce vermin such as ferrets, stoats and weasels into New Zealand. Wherever they are thick they not only exterminate imported game, but what is worse, the curious flightless birds of New Zealand, which make it one of the most interesting countries in the world to naturalists, are sure to disappear. There is in addition the trouble that it is necessary to protect all poultry yards with fine meshed wire netting or by other means. Nothing but the direst necessity could justify the introduction of such vicious, bloodthirsty little brutes as the members of the weasel family. The necessity, however, did exist. The mischief caused by rabbits is notorious.”

20/8/1891. “A few days ago we drew attention to the clause in the Rabbit Nuisance Act, 1882, which imposes a penalty of not less than £5 or more than £10 on anyone killing a stoat or a weasel. At the same time we expressed the opinion that action should be taken to exempt the Blind Bay region from the operation of this clause. Since then it has come to our knowledge that three or four more of the vermin have been seen in the Waimea, and that the settlers are becoming somewhat alarmed, fearing, as they do, not only depredations upon their hen roosts, but the slaughter of their young lambs, by these ferocious little animals.”

27/4/1892. “The annual meeting of the Nelson Acclimatisation Society was held yesterday evening.... It was feared that the importation of stoats and weasels would not only do much harm to poultry, but would go far to exterminate native and imported game.”

8/5/1892. “We have been shown today a young weasel about three parts grown, one of seven that were caught in a rabbit burrow in Eves’ Valley, Waimea West. It is unnecessary to say that the whole brood were despatched without mercy, and utterly regardless of legal consequences. Already the vermin are playing havoc among the poultry in that district, several fowls having been found dead with the mark of the beast on their heads. It is feared that these little animals are going to prove a terrible nuisance to the settlers.” page 59 16/3/1896. Mr Herbert F. Jones writes: “A weasel came fearlessly into our kitchen in full daylight while several people were there talking”.

18/3/1897. “At the annual meeting of the Auckland Acclimatisation Society reference was made to the spread of stoats and weasels... in Upper Waikato a number of sheep were found dead with a puncture in the neck... When the stoats and weasels were first introduced every Acclimatisation Society in the North Island protested about them being liberated in the north till the result of the experiment in the South Island had been ascertained. No attention was paid to their protest...”

13/10/1897. “One of the delegates at the Acclimatisation Conference, remarking upon the importation of stoats and weasels for the destruction of rabbits, said that though he lived 100 miles from where they were first taken out, they were increasing so enormously that they must eventually destroy both imported and native game.”

15/11/1905. “In view of the losses incurred by poultry keepers from stoats and weasels, the Nelson Poultry Association last evening unanimously passed a resolution in the direction of getting protection removed from these animals, at least so far as the Nelson district is concerned...”

But it was already too late!

High Jinks in the Nelson Council Chambers

“A huge rat which thoughtlessly wandered into the Council Chambers last evening met with a quick and tragic fate. The alarm was raised from the press table, one of the occupants of which picked up a poker lying near and made a bad miss at the rodent as it slipped under the table and made gaily off behind the Mayor’s chair. Cr. Wilkens, however, offered stout resistance on the flank, and sent the rat back in the direction it came, a well-directed ink bottle from the Town Clerk helping to impress it of the danger it was now in. A pressman, armed with a fire shovel, administered a gentle tap to the rodent which again made off in the direction of Cr. Wilkens, who, no doubt thinking of his football days, got one of his feet under the animal and sent it reeling back, where the fire shovel put on the finishing touch. The last scene in the incident was the rodent being carried out of the Chamber on a shovel by a blushing pressman to the plaudits of the Councillors. Mr Vigor-Brown, M.P. and Mayor of Napier, who was in the body of the Chamber, was an amused spectator of the incident, and will no doubt return to his home with a good story of exciting times experienced by Councillors in Nelson.”

Nelson Evening Mail, April 1914.

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Map of Takaka Valley indicating locations of cemeteries noted on the table. Map courtesy Peter Frew Tasman District Council

Map of Takaka Valley indicating locations of cemeteries noted on the table. Map courtesy Peter Frew Tasman District Council