Curious Kai – Pete’s Possum Pies in Pukekura

Update: 14 July 2014 – Possum pies are no longer on the menu at the Bushman Centre in Pukekura. The owners of the Bushman Centre appeared on the Sunday show last night. There’s a dispute over whether the pies were being sold, or exchanged for a donation. The Ministry for Primary Industries believes the pies were being sold and cites a potential food safety risk as the sale of possum meat is not regulated. There’s been one court appearance but it looks like mediation will take place to see if the dispute can be resolved.

20 July 2014 – The Sunday show followed up to say that the outcome of mediation was that possum pies will no longer be on the menu at the Bushman Centre, no further court action will be taken. (I’m unsure what this means for the future of the Bushman Centre as possum pies were a drawcard. If you’re interested in finding out more about the man behind the pies – Pete the Bushman, check out his recently published book).

This was the notice up when we made a donation for our possum pie

This was the notice up when we made a donation for our possum pie

Possums are more than just curious kai at the rustic Bushman’s Centre in Pukekura. Possum skins are used as seat coverings, and to make unique vests for children under the Boyang label.

Curiously, it’s currently illegal to sell possum pies in New Zealand. It was legal back in 2004, Nick Smith, the MP for Nelson was keen for Pete’s Possum Pies to be included on the menu at Bellamy’s – the MP’s dining room at Parliament. MP’s aren’t eating all the pies, so if you donate $4 at the Bushman’ s Centre to the fight against 1080 poison, they’ll give you a possum pie for free. What does possum taste like? It doesn’t have a strong taste, when customers are asked they often reply it tastes like lamb, we agree, so the pies are a mild introduction to wild food. Other curious kai on the menu may include bunny rabbit or bambi burgers, and whitebait sandwiches.

You may also find a possum or two in the small museum at the Bushman’s Centre. I didn’t visit the museum, I was too busy working up the courage to ask the bushman about his curious company car – the Duzgo.  Turns out I didn’t need much courage as the bushman is the friendly kind, not the scary kind. However the Duzgo had gone – it was getting repaired and would be sold on its return, I had to make do with seeing it in miniature.

Only 10 Duzgo were ever produced, they were primarily built from parts of other vehicles. However the government of the day decided to class the Duzgo as new and demanded sales tax. The Duzgo Manufacturing Company couldn’t afford the tax and production ceased in the 1970’s, the same decade it began. My search for a life size Duzgo continues.

Our visit to the Bushman’s Centre was memorable, we appreciated the humour – look out for the giant sandfly a.k.a. Pteradactyl legpullus. You’ll find the Bushman’s Centre in Pukekura, between Hokitika and Franz Josef – when the sandfly’s out, they’ll be open. (Note: The Bushman’s Centre  website is out of date, as mentioned, possum pies are no longer sold commercially, and the Puke Pub is no longer open).

8 thoughts on “Curious Kai – Pete’s Possum Pies in Pukekura

  1. Hi Duzgo Devotees,
    Kevin now lives in Rangiora, New Zealand. If you want information about the Duzgo Kevin will always welcome a call. May even take you for a ride in his No.10 Duzgo. This was the last one ever produced by him and Rodney his brother under the name The Duzgo Manufacturing Company Limited. Cheers, Linda Giles

    • Thanks Linda
      I’d really love to see the Duzgo, we plan to be in Christchurch near the end of the year, so I’ll see if we can make it happen on this trip. Coincidentally I was just reading a short article about a handmade car in the September issue of North & South magazine (pg 21). The car is used by the owners of La Petite Chocolat in Hawkes Bay as an attention getter for their stall at the Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market in Hastings

  2. Hi Linda
    Neat, thank you. We hope to be in Christchurch in the next couple of months so I will definitely be in touch with your husband. Thanks, Rachael

  3. If you want to see a real life Duzgo (The last one ever produced – No.10), get in contact with Kevin Giles (Duzgo Manufacturing Company Limited – Whataroa, New Zealand co-manufacturer) at K.G. Motorcycle Services, Sydenham, Christchurch or look him up in the Christchurch telephone book – K.E. Giles. He would be more than happy to share information and if you are really nice you may even be shown the Duzgo or taken for a ride in one. Wife of a Duzgo man – Linda Giles

  4. The possums here have been caught using cruel leghold traps. The possums suffer intensely. These traps are banned in any civilised country, so any tourist should check the method of killing with anything to do with possums. Currently the pies are not allowed to be exchanged for a donation because of the Ministry’s concern with Food Health and Safety.

    • Hi, I remember seeing some cute little cabins across the road. It’s a shame the pub had closed (and I presume is still closed) when we visited, it had a unique wild food menu.

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