19 Jul 2019

Saving the Waipu goat

From Country Life, 9:34 pm on 19 July 2019

An American woman who now lives in North Canterbury is determined to save a hardy breed of Angora goat.

Jill Nawrocki and a Waipu goat

Jill Nawrocki and a Waipu goat Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

"When we came over from Kansas three years ago we did not ever expect, if you were to have asked us, that we'd become goat herders but, here we are!" Jill Nawrocki says.

Jill and Michael Nawrocki's lifestyle block at Ohoka has become a home to a menagerie of animals and birds, including heritage chooks and friendly alpacas.

But it is their herd of rare and cute Waipu goats that get most of Jill's loving attention.

"Our little goats have actually become a big part of our lives. We spend a lot of time making sure they are happy and healthy. It's been a very big learning experience for us." 
Waipu goats are likely to be descendants of the original Angora goats brought to New Zealand in the late 1800s.

They survived in the Northland bush around Waipu for more than 100 years before the New Zealand Department of Conservation decided to try to eradicate them from the wild.

Some were captured before the eradication attempt took place and those unique goats are now kept in captivity.

There are about 40 Waipu goats alive today and probably none left in the wild, but numbers are likely to rise thanks to a handful of Rare Breeds Conservation Society members like Jill. 

She provides a home for 22 and is hoping to have at least 10 kids on the ground later on this year.

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Photo: RNZ/Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

Jill's goal is to help other people establish smaller satellite herds to ensure numbers will gradually grow.

"I'm happy to say that of our 22 goats we have here, we have 4 have new homes and they'll actually be heading off to their new homes in the next couple of weeks."

There are extra considerations for future Waipu goat breeders, though.

Jill wants to make sure that people seeking to establish a herd must have a set-up where a buck of another breed can't get to a Waipu doe.

She also wants breeders to register their kids and should they sell any goats, she would like the same rules to apply to the new owners.

"Until we get the goat up into the hundreds in numbers, they are still at risk."