A Wildlife Article from All-Creatures.org

Holding the Proverbial Line: New Zealand's Possums

From FramingSpeciesism.com
June 2022

The more I think about this interaction, the more it reiterates to me just how ingrained the possum-as-‘pest’ narrative is in New Zealand – and that the glue of maintaining this narrative is the everyday social policing done by people within the dominant discourse towards others.

New Zealand Possum
The possum magnet. Source: Author

It was a stunningly gorgeous day and my partner and I were on holiday in Akaroa, a charming small town on the Banks Peninsula in New Zealand. As many countries can relate, New Zealand’s tourist industry has suffered extensively from the lack of international visitors due to the pandemic1; however, you wouldn’t know it based on the lively summer atmosphere in town that day. My partner and I, taking a stroll along the waterfront, walked into a souvenir shop and I began absentmindedly spinning a rack of postcards, keychains, and magnets. Suddenly, my attention was immediately caught by one of the most surprising finds that I have ever seen in this country: a plain brushtail possum fridge magnet.

The magnet itself was nothing special – it was a duplicate picture that was featured on the postcard version and wasn’t particularly distinctive; but, as I lifted it up to examine it, I realised it was just that – a magnet.

I almost didn’t trust how innocuous it looked. There were no anti-‘pest’ messages or fear-mongering ‘facts’ listed about the possum on the label, nor did I notice any suggestive posing you would commonly see in photographs of possums in New Zealand discourse (such as those below). Very strange, indeed!


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