Wanna save a Weka? Eat a Weka!
ConversatioNZ and Eat New Zealand
The Future is Kai: New Zealand Food in 2030
ConversatioNZ (now Eat New Zealand) is a movement initiated by chefs and people in the food industry with the aim of highlighting the quality and vast array of edible resources available in New Zealand.
The movement seeks to provide a forum to encourage and enable collaboration between all levels of the culinary chain and move towards more sustainable food systems.
Giulio Sturla is the founder and driving force behind ConversatioNZ (now Eat New Zealand) and is committed and determined to bring the quality of ingredients, and the stories behind the food to the forefront.
Roger Beattie had the pleasure of meeting Giulio and his team when they came out to the family farm in Lansdowne, expecting to see some Weka. Little did they know, they would all be taken out to the wild to hunt some Wyld Lamb. Pitt Island wild sheep are run organically, ethically and wildly on Banks Peninsula and hold all the qualities that this award-winning chef could want! Of course Roger was going to take them to hunt the sheep!
Although the highlight of the day may have been hunting the wild sheep, the main ingredient was Weka. (Legally harvested from the Chatham Islands, with a permit)
Roger was soon invited to talk at the Symposium in Wellington – The Future is Kai.
His speech went a little like this.
‘Wanna save a Weka? Eat a Weka!
Who thinks that’s a daft proposition? Well, what if I said…
Wanna save a carrot? Eat a carrot! Are carrots endangered?
We eat carrots, but that doesn’t wipe them out. Imagine if we banned the sale of carrot seed!
NZ grows 65% of the Worlds carrot seed.
We don’t eat breeding carrots and we don’t eat breeding Weka or breeding Sheep!
The point of eating Weka is to do it again and again through breeding more than we eat.
It’s a numbers game. The greater the number of offspring, the faster they grow, the more we can harvest.
Sheep farmers have it fine-tuned as to how many they breed and how many they harvest.
In 5 years, if we start with a breeding pair of Cattle we get to sell up to:
Cattle = 3
Sheep = 10
Weka = 100
We (being R&N Beattie Partnership) are Certified Organic Sheep and Beef farmers and are New Zealand’s longest and most successful Weka breeders.
We set up New Zealand’s first mainland Predator Proof Reserve on Banks Peninsula in 1994 and have given away 100’s of Weka to other conservation groups.
In New Zealand, we (being NZ Public)
-Harvest Native Mutton Birds (Tītī)
-Breed and sell Kakariki (Parrots)
-Farm and harvest native fish and shellfish; Paua and Oysters.
-Grow and sell native shrubs, fern, grasses and trees.
-Farm and harvest native Seaweed and Kelp.
-Harvest native insects; Huhu grubs and Locusts.
WHY NOT FARM WEKA?
Weka are ideally suited to farming:
Weka like human company, they breed up quickly, grow fast, eat a wide variety of food, are light on the land, control rats and mice, can be farmed with other species, taste great, are healthy to eat and require no chemicals to grow them.
Weka have been harvested for 100’s of years and it’s not man that has wiped them out – it’s Stoats and Weasels.
We put Weka in Predator Proof Reserves and they breed. We have had 1 pair breed 5 times in one year, producing 17 chicks!
Overseas, those countries that embrace farming and commercialising endangered wildlife, do so much better at the sustainability game than those who ban commerce.
Eg: Buffalo in the USA – Farming saved them!
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