Nothing Funny About the Easter Bunny

It's part of Easter every year but it's not cute or cuddly nor is it a friend of farmers. The NZ Biosecurity Institute says it's a costly example of the effects of introduced plants and pests and it's high time the Easter Bunny was replaced.

Institute President, Rebecca Kemp said her members think it would be appropriate to find a heroic icon for Easter rather than the rabbit along with its villainous history in New Zealand.

Great spotted kiwi chick and Easter Egg. Photo Willowbank Wildlife Reserve Photo courtesy of Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.

The NZ Biosecurity Institute is the professional training and networking organisation for people involved in biosecurity. Its 450 members work for research organisations, educational institutions, regional councils and government departments. All are involved in protecting New Zealand from invasive species.

Ms Kemp reckons it's high time the kiwi flew at Easter.

"The symbols around Easter have come from many historic and cultural origins, so why not put our own slant on Easter?" she said.

"The obvious choice would be the kiwi. It lays one of the largest eggs of any animal in the world, which is entirely appropriate for Easter".

Ms Kemp said equally significant is that it is endangered because of the effects of introduced predators.

"Were not trying to replace the Easter Bunny with an Easter Kiwi, but to give the commercial side of Easter a more New Zealand emphasis, and in so doing, help raise awareness of all pests, both plant and animal."
Every year the Biosecurity Institute's members spend hundreds of hours controlling or managing the risks to the economy and the environment of the effects of introduced pests.

"This is work which costs the country hundreds of millions of dollars each year through control, research and border control budgets. This money is coming out of all New Zealanders' pockets," she said.
"It is very hard to get the message across that although "bunnies" look like cute cuddly creatures they are not welcome here".

Ms Kemp said an animal or plant is a pest because of where it is, not what it is.

Hear Rebecca on National Radio spreading a Biosecurity message this Easter.

Chocolate Kiwi and egg