Author(s): Renée Lang
In February 2019, after many weeks of drought conditions, an inadvertent incident with a piece of farm machinery led to the worst fires ever experienced in the Tasman region in the upper South Island. As the flames roared over the tinder-dry region, helicopters and fixed wing planes took to the skies with monsoon buckets and other fire-fighting equipment while on the ground a huge number of fire fighters, many of them volunteers, did their best to contain the flames. Meanwhile, hundreds of people were evacuated and before long it was clear that something had to be done about the livestock – both farm animals and domestic pets.
Enter Carolyn Press-McKenzie, the co-founder of HUHA NZ, a charitable trust dedicated to teaching empathy to the community and providing shelter for animals in need. She immediately set up facilities at the Richmond Park Showgrounds to house an enormous number of livestock including cows, sheep, goats, pigs, llamas, hens and turkeys. Then there were the dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and birds, not to mention the army of volunteers that came from near and far to help.
And so the idea for But Who’s Looking After the Animals? – a children’s book that tells the story of those frightening few weeks – was born and subsequently dedicated to all the wonderful people who stepped up when they were needed during this very difficult and volatile time. It is the publisher’s intention to donate a significant proportion of the income from sales to HUHA and also to the Nelson Ark, a local organisation that at its core is an animal rescue shelter that brings together people, young and old, as participants or volunteers, to learn the value of responsibility and patience.
An accomplished illustrator, graphic designer and animal lover, Polly Rabbits has an impressive number of children’s books to her credit (www.pollyrabbits.co.nz).
Renée Lang is an editor, writer, reviewer and also runs a small publishing business (www.renaissancepublishing.co.nz).