Arapawa pig on Arapawa Island (Photo by Betty Rowe)
A Rare Breed of New Zealand Origin
The true origin of the feral pigs of Arapawa Island in the Marlborough Sounds is not known although they have given rise to much speculation. It has been suggested that they are descendants of animals released in the Marlborough Sounds area by James Cook in 1773 and 1777. A more likely explanation, however, is that they were introduced by whalers during the first half of the nineteenth century.
Several attempts were made over the years to catch some of the pigs, but until the late 1990s there were only a few adults on the mainland, and they were critically endangered on Arapawa Island itself.
Then in 1998 four healthy piglets were recovered from the Island and these have been successfully bred from.
Arapawa feral pigs are somewhat larger than those from the Auckland Islands with shorter noses and tails. Many are an attractive tan with black patches but other colours also occur, including pure black.