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New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

(Incorporating the International Arapawa Goat Association)

Betty and Blizzy

Betty Rowe – the Goat Lady

Betty Rowe, long time champion of the Arapawa goats, died in Picton, New Zealand, on 18 May 2008. The following tribute was written for Rare Breeds NewZ, number 82, by Michael Willis.

Betty, along with her husband Walter and three children, left the United States in order to start a new life in New Zealand. One of the main reasons for making such a shift, was Betty's disillusionment with many of the issues that were impacting on her life at the time such as racism and the war in Vietnam, along with a desire to find a lifestyle more compatible with her developing personal philosophy. After a brief time working on farms in the Te Anau basin, the family purchased a run down small farming block on Arapawa Island, and their life changed forever.

Initially it was a simple life of hard physical work and home grown organic produce, but then into the mix was thrown the introduced goats, sheep, and pigs on the Island, animals who shared their home. Distraught with the realisation that these creatures and particularly the goats, suffered not only recreational hunting pressure but also regular culling by the Government Departments responsible, pushed Betty into campaigning for their protection. Subsequent early research then led to the belief that the goats may have originated from animals released by Captain Cook, and armed with this knowledge she carried the fight with a single minded determination, gathering support and shaking the 'establishment' wherever she could.

For Betty Arapawa was a crusade, and one that she never contemplated losing. Like all crusaders she was totally focussed, and while there was breath in her body, she campaigned with total commitment. Her love for those creatures became a sacrifice for herself and her family, but she never wavered in her unshakable convictions. The ripples emanating from this conviction spread out not only locally, but nationally and even internationally. The Arapawa animals were a major catalyst in the establishment and workings of the Rare Breeds Conservation Society of New Zealand, and in later years the issues were published and discussed by conservation bodies throughout the world. While not everyone may agree with all of her philosophy, few would argue the impact that she has had.

Betty had the privilege of being totally at peace with her convictions. Her life was spent in love for what she was doing, and love for the natural world around her. She had a huge energy, and an incredible zest for life that was coupled with a bubbly sense of humour. She established a Trust and created a Sanctuary at Lily Valley on the Island, and her passing may well herald the dawn of a new era in its development. A few months before her death, DNA research confirmed that the goats on Arapawa Island are in fact a separate breed with their own status, confirmation that a life and a crusade was based on hard scientific fact, along with unrelenting love.

The Arapawa Wildlife Trust is administered by her daughter-in-law Debbie, and her granddaughter Shannon. The Trust can be contacted at: The Arapawa Wildlife Trust, Lily Valley, East Bay, Arapawa Island, Picton.

Return to Betty Rowe – Arapawa Wildlife Sanctuary

See also tributes written for Lifestyle Farmer,   Growing Today,   ALBC News, and The Ark.

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New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

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