Charlotte feature

Rabbits are the target for post Covid business launch

Queenstown’s Charlotte Mill has achieved what everyone was hoping for out of Covid’s brave new world – a business that can create new local jobs and help the environment at the same time.

Rangi Nui Rabbits is officially launched this weekend and will pay trained local hunters to kill rabbits for both their meat and their pelts. Charlotte has the myriad practical issues under control sending a clear message to everyone who said “it can’t be done” or “it’s been tried before.”

Rabbits beware - a local pest is about to become the focus for a new meat and home furnishing venture.

The idea was initially part of, and a winner of,  the Crux Project Phoenix initiative and then went on to be supported by Olivia Wensley and Startup Queenstown Lakes.

Now all of the hard work and planning has paid off. The cushions and home furnishings made from rabbit pelts are ready to be sold and the rabbit meat is ready for the supermarkets.

The business will start small but hopes to soon be handling 500 rabbits each week.

“We’ve worked with Zamora in Queenstown to get easy to cook rabbit meat products into supermarkets, but the restaurant trade will do their own thing with fresh, chilled meat that we’ll supply. We are working with a meat supply chain already approved by the Ministry for Primary Industry and found large tracts of poison free local land where we can hunt up to 500 rabbits a week” Charlotte told Crux today.

“Currently the meat is getting processed through Invercargill but we are hoping to bring that part of the business to Queenstown as the business grows in size.”

“We’ve found so much enthusiasm and talent locally. People who can design, people who can sew – there’s just so much talent in this community.”

“We’re working with Darren Rewi and he’s hoping to grow our hunting team with young, local Maori who can become MPI certified and on the sewing side we hope soon to set up a workshop that will provide more local jobs.”

Startup Queenstown Lakes' Olivia Wensley is helping to deliver a number of new ventures into the post Covid local economy.

Charlotte has particular praise for the team at Startup Queenstown Lakes. “Olivia Wensley has been great. The Lift Off programme really worked for us and the best thing about Olivia is that she sticks with a project from beginning to end. It was also great working with the other local start-ups, where we met initially on Zoom and then all managed to become friends in the real world!”

Charlotte’s dream for the new business? “We are turning a pest into a new industry – meat and home furnishings – providing new local jobs and helping to define Kiwi creativity in a new and dynamic way. The red tape has not been too bad so far, but we are hoping that with success will come a little loosening of the regulations. The best thing of all is that for our customers a simple local purchase can achieve two goals – supporting local jobs and improving the environment.”

You can watch the Southern Lens episode featuring Charlotte’s new business here.

 

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