What is a New Zealand Possum?

What is a New Zealand Possum?

Possums were integrated into New Zealand’s ecosystem back in 1837 from Australia to hype up the fur trade. This first introduction failed initially and they tried again in 1857, which was super successful, so successful in fact that there’s a complete overpopulation of possums here in NZ today. They’re everywhere!

Not only do they make this terrifying sound… 

But they are also posing a severe threat to New Zealand’s ecosystem because of their awkward positioning in the hierarchy. There aren’t many predators who hunt them, and because they are opportunistic omnivores they are in direct competition with NZ native species for food, which puts lots of our protected species such as Powelliphanta and saddlebacks at risk.

Possums also pose a threat to dairy and deer farmers because they spread bovine tuberculosis. The economic loss caused by this is crippling to our farmers and our nation.

Possums are;

  • Typically between 65cm and 95cm in length
  • Usually between 1.5 to 5 kg in weight
  • Either one of two colour forms; grey and black
  • Nocturnal animals
  • Often found really densely in forests but are fairly widespread across New Zealand now. It’s not uncommon to have them floating about your trash can or jumping on the roof of your house.

The department of conservation (DoC) takes care of New Zealand’s native plants and wildlife and they believe that the whole ecosystem is negatively affected by the possum.

The possum is marked as a pest and we Kiwis are encouraged to treat them as such. We agree wholeheartedly.

Here at New Zealand Natural Clothing, we put a huge amount of importance on protecting the local environment. We passionately pursue sustainability and even have a self-funded Eco park -The Wopwops Wetland Park. (link)

We don’t just value sustainability and the local environment because it’s the right thing to do, we do this because we are dedicated to doing everything we can to support the local ecosystem.

There is a silver lining, possum makes a quality fibre. Knitted possum fibre is soft, doesn’t freeze and is really lightweight due to it being hollow. On average, 1 kilo of possum fibre is harvested from between 10-20 of the little guys. That figure depends on the season, the location and the ecosystem the possum has adopted!

The goal for more luxury is a longer fibre, this has a higher price tag because it’s of higher quality - and by ‘higher quality’ we mean how soft the garment feels to the wearer. Possums from South of Christchurch, for example, have thicker and longer fibre because of the colder climate.

When buying fibre before it is knitted, length is graded. The longer the fibre, the less ends and ultimately the less itch and the softer the feel.

Shorter fibres are re-spun so they can be upgraded to ‘eco-possum’ short fibres which we use in MKM originals and other products. The ‘eco-possum’ fibres are the waste that is saved and used, its super strong because of the number of ends.

We are really proud of the eco fibre recovery process. For a long time everyone was only using the premium and this ensures every scrap is put to good use!

We have a stuffed possum, in the Otaki store. We’ve had him for about 12 years. He looks a little scary, but people love it! We play a game of ‘hide the possum - kids seek is out in store. So you can come to see Wilson in Norsewood, and this stuffed possum in Otaki! Note he has been patted so much he has bald spots.

Our friends in Australia may be having heart palpitations by now because the Australian possum is a protected species. It’s okay, you can take as many of ours as you’d like - we really really don’t mind sharing!

If you’re thinking of buying a present for someone and you’re just not sure, you can’t go wrong with something made from possum. We have a great range ourselves.

Here are two of them: 

Vee Neck Sweater NATIVE WORLD - This jumper comes in so many colours. Sits in front of store in Norsewood with size stacks of the colours.

Fur Pom Pom Possum Merino Wool Silk Hat KORU

Did you know that Possum hunting is a thing here in NZ? And if you happen to be driving along and you see a possum you are encouraged to aim for it as opposed to avoiding it! That’s how much the DoC want these fellas culled, all for the better of the native species.

The DoC take on volunteers to be a part of helping set up pest traps to capture the possums.

Our goal is to protect the native environment which means that threats like the possum needs to be eradicated so that we can build a sustainable future for our ecosystem. Plus, we love using possum fibre!