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New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

(Incorporating the International Arapawa Goat Association)


Treasured Memories of Betty Rowe

This tribute to Betty Rowe was written for Lifestyle Farmer
by Gail Simons of Stoney Oaks Wildlife Park. The photos are from Gail.

Betty Rowe, owner of the Arapawa Wildlife Sanctuary in the Marlborough Sounds, passed away recently on 18 May 2008 – a tragic loss for the wildlife on Arapawa Island. Betty was a remarkable woman with a huge mission in life which was to save the unique wildlife on the Island, especially the goats. She had an on-going battle with the Department of Conservation (DOC) for over 30 years to preserve these precious animals and has had enormous support from helpers throughout New Zealand and overseas, with the Rare Breeds Survival Trust of Great Britain and the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy coming on board to help as well.


DOC still seem to have trouble accepting that the majority of the population want the animals on Arapawa Island protected. Hopefully in the near future they will stop playing God – refrain from shooting the goats and come to their senses then maybe Betty's hard work will come into fruition.

Betty entered my life three years ago when out of the blue I received a phone call from her. She had seen a photo of our Arapawa sow "Swazi" in a magazine and wanted to know all about her. Within an hour on the phone talking pigs we had become firm friends. She posted me a copy of a book she had written called Once Upon an Island, which is a real insight into her life and Arapawa Island. A good read for anyone interested. Emails went back and forth over the following year and two years ago my husband Trevor and I decided to visit the Island and meet this lovely lady in person. It was a wonderful experience and one we will never forget.


Access to the Island is by Water Taxi which was an adventure on its own. I was in my element photographing fur seals along the way, and a smiling Betty with arms outstretched greeted us at the little Jetty on arrival. We spent four days there, slept in a small hut behind the main house which was surrounded by Manuka and scrubby bush. It was sheer magic having the wild goats, sheep and pigs literally on our doorstep. I found the Wekas fascinating – it was a photographer's dream. We went for long walks exploring the Island hoping to see the real wildlife outside the 300 acre Wildlife Sanctuary and we were blessed to see them all. I captured the goats, sheep and wild pigs on film. What an amazing experience. We spent the evenings with Betty sharing animal stories and she made us interesting vegetarian meals. Trevor helped with maintenance jobs and I water blasted all the goat houses and met the tenants. Those days spent with Betty on the Arapawa Island will remain treasured memories. I love and miss you Betty – RIP.


Return to Betty Rowe – Arapawa Wildlife Sanctuary

See also tributes written for Rare Breeds NewZ,   Growing Today,   ALBC News, and The Ark.

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