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New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

(Incorporating the International Arapawa Goat Association)



David Hughes ~ Tutukinoa Arapawas

Some of David's bucks

I don’t remember the year but it was in the early 1990s. Patsy and I had gone to a Rare Breeds Conservation Society auction at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch with a friend who assured us it would be an interesting day looking at the animals and having a picnic lunch and a few wines. We were not yet rare breeders and had no intention of buying anything. But then we saw this magnificent goat! He had spectacular horns and was extremely friendly. When we went over to his enclosure he put his front feet up on the rails so that he could be patted, scratched and talked to. We kept returning to see him. What was he, we wondered, and what would he cost? This was a rare breeds auction so perhaps he was worth thousands? We made enquiries and found out that he was an Arapawa goat and that he probably would sell for a couple of hundred dollars or so. We figured we could manage that and nervously I got ready to bid. It was all over very quickly and we had paid a mere $28 for a truly beautiful animal who was to change our lives considerably! We decided to call our goat Pegasus.

Then Michael Willis asked us if we would take two females under the caregiver scheme that was operating at the time. We got a mother and daughter and named them Gog and Magog. When Gog produced twin boys we took them to the next Rare Breeds auction and sold them because we couldn’t use them for breeding. A reporter for a farming paper was there and took a photo of me with one of the kids to accompany an article she was writing. When the article appeared the caption underneath the photo described me as a “farmer and breeder” much to the chagrin of my father-in-law who had owned a large sheep station and didn't think such a description fitted someone with ten acres at Lyttelton!

Young Belltopper

One morning I found Magog dead in her shelter. She wasn’t even lying over and looked as if she had settled down for the night and had a heart attack or brain haemorrhage and died instantly in that position. We were very disappointed but Gog helped raise our spirits by delivering twin girls that we named Magog II and Belltopper. They were to be the last kids Gog produced because she died before she could kid again. This was a huge blow to our confidence and I’m sure that if anything had happened to Magog II and Belltopper we would have given up. Fortunately both thrived and produced many kids before they were too old. We couldn’t put Pegasus over his daughters so we got a male goat we named Chewtobacco and a doe we named Little Glory from a breeder in Timaru. Chewtobacco got to mate with the girls and Pegasus spent his time head butting lumps of concrete for fun. One day he snapped off half of one horn, which rather spoilt his looks. Our herd grew only slowly.

We began corresponding with Betty and Walt Rowe at the Arapawa Wildlife Sanctuary who were responsible for helping save the breed from extermination. We were hoping to get some goats from the island but this proved difficult because there were restrictions on stock movements at the time as hydatids had been found on the island. In the end we worked out a system with the government ministry whereby a permit would be issued to pick up suckling kids when they became available and we would then bottle raise them when we got them home. In 1998 I made my first trip to the island going out on the mail run and bringing back a buck kid and doe kid. Betty called the buck Precious and we named the doe Kaipipi. Bottle feeding the kids was great fun and it also established a bond with the goats that will never be broken.

Arapawa goats at Lyttelton
David feeding some of his female Arapawa goats

A second trip to the island resulted in three more doe kids coming to Lyttelton and we also got two bucks locally. We thought that with these additions we would make real progress with our breeding. However, despite our best efforts, we were spectacularly unsuccessful at breeding females. In the 2001-2003 seasons we had 38 kids but fewer than a quarter were female. We knew that this was not just a matter of luck because the pattern was the same each year – plenty of males and very few females. We lacked an explanation until we were shown a textbook on goats that identified the problem as an iodine deficiency and suggested the remedy was to feed seaweed meal, which we did. In November 2003 I again went to Arapawa Island and brought back more goats for our property.

The next year produced more female kids than in the previous four years combined, and the number of females equalled the number of males, thanks to the seaweed meal. In the past several people had asked for goats but we didn’t have enough to let any females go. Now we were in a position to start establishing other herds with people keen to get involved and hopefully these beautiful animals, of which there are only about 300 world wide, can have a secure future.

We currently have over 75 Arapawa goats but also have Arapawa pigs and Arapawa sheep plus other breeds of sheep, goats and pigs as well as ponies, donkeys, rabbits and poultry.


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New Zealand Arapawa Goat Association

Ma pango ma whero ka oti te mahi

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