Possums and pig hunting fundraiser for country school

The Uruti butcher possum was a dab hand with a cleaver.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

The Uruti butcher possum was a dab hand with a cleaver.

Forget bake sales and craft fairs, there's only one way to hold a school fundraiser in Uruti. 

The biennial pig hunt was a huge hit for the13-pupil school in north Taranaki, about 46 kilometres north of New Plymouth.

Hundreds attended the family fun day that included all the usual events - the possum carrying obstacle course, the heaviest magpie or rabbit competition, best dressed possum, heaviest goat head and, of course, the gumboot throw. 

Like his human namesake, the Donald Trump possum rated well.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Like his human namesake, the Donald Trump possum rated well.

Principal Pauline Sutton said it was a great way for the school to engage with their rural community.  

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"We usually get quite a few hundred people here."

Adam Black, 26, of Awakino, on right, with his pig that came in at 41.7kg.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Adam Black, 26, of Awakino, on right, with his pig that came in at 41.7kg.

She said with only seven families attending the school, they had to be inventive with their fundraising.

"These are country children. They love animals.

"We're in a rural district and that's what we do out here."

Two possums dressed in their finery.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Two possums dressed in their finery.

The pig hunting opened on Thursday, giving hunters the opportunity to find the heaviest boar. They had more than 100 entries, with hunters registering from as far as Awakino and Whangamomona. 

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"Pigs do a bit of damage along the way at this time, so farmers are quite keen to see them be rid of," Sutton said. 

She said "you never know" how many may actually come on the day. By 3pm more than a dozen had arrived for weighing and more were expected. 

Uruti's Macy Lobb, 11, was a speedster in the possum carrying obstacle course.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Uruti's Macy Lobb, 11, was a speedster in the possum carrying obstacle course.

There were also a number of entries for the dead possum dress-up including a butcher, a cowboy and a Donald Trump, complete with the shock of blond hair.

In 2012, at the inaugural Uruti School pig hunt, pictures of the possum dress-up caused an uproar around the country and the world with many labelling the best-dressed possum competition inhumane, disrespectful, and even unhygienic.

But Sutton wasn't worried this time around.

Ryan Harrison, 11, of Uruti entered the gumboot throwing and everything else that was going.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Ryan Harrison, 11, of Uruti entered the gumboot throwing and everything else that was going.

"We did have one in 2014 and we got no reaction."

She said as long as the community were interested they hoped to run the event every two years.

People were asking about it when it didn't run last year, she said.

Ryan Harrison, 11, who goes to Uruti School, entered the gumboot throw, the goat head contest, the rabbit competition, the possum obstacle course and the best-dressed possum.

"It's a good day out and we have lots of fun," he said.

Macy Lobb, also 11, now goes to Manukorihi Intermediate in Waitara but still lives in Uruti. She said it was a great day. 

"I really like it. It's really fun."

Adam Black, 26, had come down from Awakino to enter the pig hunt. It was his first time to the Uruti School fundraiser.

He said he enjoyed the challenge of pig hunting.

"It's a rewarding sort of sport, when you see the young dogs going well and things like that."

 - Stuff

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