One aspect of assimilating into life in New Zealand involves sharing the national loathing of possums. Possums were introduced into New Zealand for their fur, but when the initial venture failed they were released into the wild and rapidly proliferated. It is now estimated that there are some 70 million possums in New Zealand (almost 18 for every man, woman and child!), and without a natural predator they are, quite simply, a pest.
All true New Zealanders are proficient in eradicating possums from their land, and even if this doesn't seem to reduce the overall numbers by much it seems to make them feel a lot better! Until recently, the possums at Mokoia Downs had run rings around us, declining to enter our traps, and happily frolicking about and devouring the contents of our garden. This was, indeed, the fate of the very first lemon from our young lemon tree. I had delayed picking the lemon until I judged that it was in perfect condition ready to be sliced for weekend G&T's, but when I finally went to gather it I was horrified to discover that a possum had got there first.
Now all this might not seem a major matter to many, but with citizenship applications pending our inability over 6+ years to catch even one single possum was becoming a real concern. On a regular basis a combination of half eaten fruit and vegetables and possum droppings confronted us on our daily rounds, and it seemed as though the possums, somehow discerning that we were not native born New Zealanders, had decided to taunt and humiliate us.
But ......... perseverance will take a snail to America, as they say! We refused to give up and surrender, and became ever more creative in our positioning of traps and use of bait. And then ....... 3 weeks ago, a breakthrough, followed by possums number 2, 3, 4 and 5 in fairly quick succession. Naturally we speedily submitted date-stamped photographic evidence to the Department for Internal Affairs, accompanied by corroborative testimonials from our neighbours.
To say we are "made up" or "over the moon" doesn't do our feelings justice. No more therapy or counselling, no more possum nightmares, and just in the nick of time before a decision is made on our citizenship applications!