A “light bulb” moment has led to a Queenstown woman’s drive to dramatically reduce the Wakatipu’s exploding rabbit population at the same time creating an eco-venture harvesting rabbit fur and meat.
Charlotte Mill launched Rangi Nui Rabbits in December last year to humanely harvest wild rabbits from virus and poison free properties with the aim of helping to control rabbits, improving the local ecology and creating jobs.
“The idea literally came to me in the middle of the night. We live on a rural property which swarmed with rabbits when we moved there a year ago which made me wonder if we have this many on one hectare how many are running around on the larger blocks of land in the area.”
“Wild rabbits are the number one invasive pest in our region and landowners are responsible for rabbit control. But at the present this is ad hoc and rabbits are a wasted resource.”
She says the practice of laying poison is not a complete solution, apart also from being costly, inhumane and environmentally unfriendly.
“My idea has been to set up a collective to include hunters , whose jobs in the tourism industry may have been impacted by Covid-19, along with tanners, butchers, fashion designers and machinists. Our group comprises Shedlon Lye and his MPI team of certified hunters , Zamora butchery, Nina Chen of Tikki Studio and Darren Rewi of Mana Tahuna Charitable Trust. We have several sites we are shooting and there is no shortage of other places to bring on stream as we need them.”
Rangi Nui Rabbits is creating bespoke feature rabbit fur cushions , throws, seat covers and ottomans while its gourmet meat products which will be available locally in restaurants and supermarkets include rabbit confit, rabbit rillettes and premium fresh rabbit cuts.
“We are very positive about where we are heading and see the business as a significant addition to the basket of free range and sustainable products that are one hundred per cent grown and produced in our district,” says Charlotte.