In recent years the regional council has successfully used a variety of food made from pests as a fun way of attracting visitors.
Regional Council Events and Partnerships Co-ordinator Katherine Mabbitt says previous wild food treats have included wasp larvae ice-cream (last year’s offering), as well as possum and goat meat pies.
“We’ve also had crackers topped with possum pate, wild rabbit sausages and breakfast sausages flavoured with the peppery native plants kawakawa and horopito.”
Mrs Mabbitt says this year – as part of a ‘Back to Basics’ theme – the council will once again offer possum pies, a popular attraction at the council’s marquee in 2005.
As their name suggests, most of the possum meat for the pies comes from the rural Pipiwai area, near Whangarei.
The bulk of the meat has been sourced by Pipiwai local George Niha, a member of Te Kaiakiri Mai O Te Orewai Trust, which last year joined the regional council’s increasingly popular Community Pest Control Area (CPCA) scheme.
(Community Pest Control Areas can be established in areas identified by their local community as worth protecting. A list of pests for control is drawn up and a plan is developed for how these can be controlled.)
More than 50 possums trapped by Mr Niha and council biosecurity officers have been sent to Whangarei’s O’Dwyer’s Butchery for boning and mincing – yielding about 20kg of meat – and will be baked into bite-sized gourmet pies by Regency Pies.
Mrs Mabbitt says 1500 pies will be served over the three days of the Thursday 01 to Saturday 03 March field days from the council’s usual location – site 251, RD1 Road.
The pies are light-hearted way to boost visitor numbers to the council marquee to view displays and speak with staff about the more serious side of the regional council’s work.
This year the council’s marquee will have a ‘Back to Basics’ theme with displays on pests, water quality and soil conservation. A community garden showcasing the work of the popular Enviroschools programme – which the council funds in Northland – will also feature.
“Council specialists across a range of fields – and some of our councillors – will be available to offer advice or chat about land-related issues people may have,” Mrs Mabbitt says.