Roast weka for your Christmas dinner?

Animals that are farmed are never endangered. And so, tasteless as it may appear, maybe it’s time to start farming some of our native species. Because, if we do so, we may save them from extinction, and I think we can all agree that we want to do that. One delicious roast bird at a time.
In a surprising article on Stuff, writer Gerald Piddock suggests exactly that. quote.

A kereru on the Christmas menu or a roast weka for Waitangi shouldn’t be off the table according to food advocates who say we should consider eating more of our native animals.

Tucking into a dish of native New Zealand meats could lure international foodie tourists to high-end restaurants and even help species thrive.

Eat NZ chief executive Angela Clifford said it was time to start a conversation around eating native animals. We’ve imported our food culture from another country, she said. end quote.

Kentucky fried kereru. Now there’s a thought… quote.

“We have applied all of those [cultural] lenses to what we choose to eat.”

That’s why the country was blanketed with pastoral farms producing sheep and beef.end quote.

There is truth in this. It is all a question of attitude. The French eat horsemeat and the Koreans eat dog. Some Chinese drink snakes blood. (Aargh.) They seem to survive it. If that is the case, what is wrong with roast kereru? It is a decent sized bird after all. quote.

The 1953 Wildlife Act protects most native species from hunting and sale but Wellington-based chef Monique Fiso would love to create a menu featuring native fauna.

Fiso specialises in Māori cuisine and is about to open her own restaurant, Hiakai, this month.

She believes it is time the law was amended to allow native species to be sustainably hunted or farmed for the food service industry. end quote.

It doesn’t just have to be Maori cuisine, although that would provide an interesting tourist attraction. There is no reason at all why restaurants should not start serving native species on the menu. quote.

More mainstream meat options don’t tell NZ’s original food story. Fiso said her stance had widespread support from others in the food industry.

“It would make such a difference because we would be using stuff that is unique to this country and that would strengthen how we are able to represent NZ internationally, food-wise.

“If we were able to have kereru, weka and starting with those two, it adds just so much more to the story. When you read historical books about what we were eating, it’s all through those recordings and it’s a shame, not just for tourists but for all New Zealanders.” end quote.

Weka numbers have increased dramatically in recent years, but with farming, the numbers would increase exponentially – and it would make an interesting change from chicken. quote.

But politicians appear to have little taste for the idea.

In a written response, Conservation Minister Eugene [sic] Sage said she did not support easing the rules around weka and kereru.

“Populations are not at levels where killing them would be justified.”

Sage said New Zealand had a biodiversity crisis with nearly 4000 indigenous species threatened or at risk of extinction and species such as kereru and kiwi were in a far too precarious position to allow them to be killed to eat. end quote.

She misses the point, of course. They would no longer be endangered if they were farmed; but the idea here is a commercial enterprise and we can’t have that if we are to return to the Stone Age.

This idea is starting to gain traction however; and it makes sense. The way to protect a species is not to make everyone pussyfoot around it. That does very little good in most cases. The way to protect a species is somehow to make it commercially viable. Make it worth someone’s while to protect it. Unfortunately, with a rabid Greenie as a conservation minister, it won’t be happening for some time yet.

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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

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