Armitage
Spring 2017

Kia Ora Alpaca

New Zealand has a similar sized alpaca industry as Britain and, just like here, there is lots going on to utilise alpaca fibre and turn it into saleable products. The companies involved all have different aims and ambitions; here are their stories

It is common knowledge that New Zealand is home to some 4.5 million people and 25 million sheep, down from a peak of around 60 million in the 80’s, indeed there have been unkind “Kiwi jokes” about the person to sheep ratio in New Zealand for decades, highly favoured by arch rivals, the Australians of course.

What is less well known is that there are around 40,000 alpaca in New Zealand, of which about 88% are Huacaya and 12% are Suri. What is even less well known is that the first alpacas arrived in New Zealand in 1864 as part of a herd being shipped to Australia by Sir Charles Ledger. Some were off-loaded in Lyttleton along the way but what happened to them is not known since there are no known descendants from them in New Zealand today.

Some 120 years later in 1985 the then Minister of Agriculture for New Zealand was convinced to change the status of alpacas and llamas from ‘zoo animals’ to ‘farm animals’ opening the way for commercial importation and breeding. The rest as they say is history…


This article can be found on Page 13 of our Spring 2017 edition, on sale now! Click here for subscription and purchasing information.

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