‘Possum Purge’: To Cleanse and Purify
A Wildlife Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM Framing Speciesism
September 2021

These events are often transparent about their mission (e.g. purge to conserve) and are forthcoming about their deliberate inclusion and education of young children.

Due to COVID-19, their ‘purges’ for 2020 and 2021 were – thankfully – cancelled.

‘purge’ from Latin purgare, to “cleanse, make clean; purify” - Etymological Dictionary

ridiculed dead possum
Encouraging children to be cruel: ‘Best Dressed Possum Competition’ - Source: Jonathan Cameron

Every year, Paparoa School, an elementary school in Northland, New Zealand, runs a ‘Possum Purge’ fundraiser. The event, referred to as a ‘Gala Day’ is heralded as an opportunity for the community to come together and win some prizes. These prizes are given for various categories, including the most unplucked possums per team and the “Les Tilby Trophy”, which is awarded to a child who shoots or traps a possum with a specific weight, assuming they are “assisted by a responsible adult”. Due to COVID-19, their ‘purges’ for 2020 and 2021 were – thankfully – cancelled.

children kill possums
Whangamomona Critter Day - Source: Glenn Jeffrey

Paparoa School’s ‘Possum Purge’ is unfortunately not the only event where communities, including young children, are encouraged to participate, and celebrate, in the killing of ‘pest’ animals. Drury School, located south of Auckland, was heavily criticised for its possum hunt in 2017 where young children were witnessed drowning live joeys who were plucked from their dead mothers in buckets of water1. Uruti School, a primary school in Taranaki, was host to a ‘best-dressed dead possum competition’ in 20122,3. Critter Day in Whangamomana, Taranaki, saw young children bringing in their ‘best kills’ and posing for photographs4. These are only a select few. While possums are the primary targets for many of these events, pigs, rabbits, wallabies, and goats are also paraded for their deaths at annual hunts.


Please read the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE (PDF).

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