No Ordinary Goat by Alison Sutherland

Published 2016 | $33 (plus post)

No Ordinary Goat is the story of the goats left on Arapawa Island by Captain Cook during his voyages of New Zealand.

Most hunters will, at one time or another, have seen or hunted feral goats so although this book is not strictly a hunting book it will be of interest to a lot of hunting book readers and collectors.

The book starts by looking in depth at the goat’s history — in 1773, a week after gifting a pair of goats to Maori in Queen Charlotte Sound, Captain James Cook put a second pair of Old English goats onto Arapawa Island. Four years later, he released another buck and a pregnant doe in the same vicinity. These became the foundation herd for today’s Arapawa goats.

After summarising Cook’s voyages and releases, Alison covers the post-Cook era of whalers, sealers, and settlers, and other voyagers to New Zealand. Goats left by earlier arrivals were of course an important food source.

Alison then goes to great lengths to determine the uniqueness of the Arapawa goats and discover their genetic distinctiveness, concluding after DNA tests that they are rare ‘heirloom’ breed of old goat that was fortunately kept alive by being put on the island.

The hope is that the breed is recognised and potentially removed from the ‘noxious pest’ list it shares with all big game animals in New Zealand. Her hope, like many hunters have for deer, chamois and tahr, is that this label will be reconsidered.  I too think it is time to revisit the Government’s attitude regarding this matter — perhaps the Arapawa goat could be the watershed animal?

Alison, by researching and compiling the story of these goats, has written a book that continues to add to the wealth of New Zealand’s literature. It is very niche but could be a good addition to a collector’s bookshelf as there is a connection to hunting and acclimatisation of animals in New Zealand.

The first edition was released on 10th November 2016. There are only 100 copies in the first edition, so if you would like to purchase a signed copy it can be purchased at Your Books.

The Hunter’s recommendation is: buy it

The Hunter’s ratings are:

  • Overall rating: 5 out of 10
  • Photos and illustrations: 2.5 out of 5
  • Trophy quality: 0 out of 5*
  • Writing quality and style: 3 out of 5
  • Page-turner status: 3 out of 5

(*Note: This is not a hunting book so does not score in the Trophy category.)

Publisher’s Blurb

For your information the following is the book’s blurb:

Having stumbled on the story of New Zealand’s Arapawa goats and learning they were close to extinction, Alison Sutherland acquired a breeding pair. Her passion for the unique little goats motivated her to research their history. What she uncovered provides strong evidence the Arapawa goats are descendants of the now critically endangered Old English breed, given to the people of New Zealand by Captain James Cook.
“Alison takes us on a journey that is not only extremely readable and fascinating in its content, but it also gives an historical insight into part of our nation’s early history. Years of research has enabled Alison to systematically paint a verbal picture, bringing all the elements together in a way that has never been done before. This is an extremely enjoyable book to read, and an incredibly valuable documentation of a little known animal that has helped shape our country and identity.” — Michael H Willis, MNZM, Willowbank Wildlife Reserve, Christchurch

Bibliographic information

Title: No Ordinary Goat: The Story of New Zealand’s Arapawa Goats
Author: Alison Sutherland, PhD
Editions: 2016
Publisher: Your Books, Wellington
ISBN: 978-0-473-37484-6
Format: Softcover, 223 pages, colour illustrations and photos, 25.5 cm


Book review of No Ordinary Goat by Alison Sutherland book review