sheep on ferry

SocietyJune 19, 2019

‘She’s my secret weapon’: the Waiheke protester taking her sheep to parliament

sheep on ferry

Waiheke Island’s favourite four-legged activist may soon be taking a road trip to protest the plans for a floating marina at Kennedy Point. Alice Burton reports.

Sue Pawley and her sheep Multi have been an unstoppable force ever since the battle over the proposed marina at Kennedy Point started a few years ago. Together they’ve raised funds and gathered 12,000 signatures in opposition to the plans.

Now Pawley thinks it’s time to take their protest further – 650 kilometres further, in fact.

She plans to drive Multi all the way to Wellington, hoping to voice her objections at parliament. “[Multi] is my secret weapon mate,” Pawley told The Spinoff. “If we can get one of these damn parliamentarians to actually agree to meet us, then Multi will go and she’ll have two little saddlebags with the petitions inside.”

In terms of the logistics of getting Multi all the way down to our windy capital, Pawley wasn’t too concerned. “She loves to go in the car. She gets sick of looking at what’s on one side, so she’ll look out the other side, and if that’s not good enough then she just sits down.”

Although casually chucking your sheep in the boot and taking to the roads doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for Pawley, she said a few people have done double-takes at supermarket car parks. “I’m sure she does this on purpose – somebody will walk past the car and she goes ‘baaa!’ and they’ll jump 3 or 4 inches in the air.”

Multi has a barrel attached to her back for donations. (Photo supplied)

Their crusade is supported by many Waiheke locals, but Pawley’s friend and supporter Kathy Voyles would rather Pawley didn’t have to travel quite so far to get her point across. “We think it’s a big thing for quite a disabled woman [Pawley needs crutches to get around] and a 95-kilo sheep,” she said. “What I would love is for our politicians to come to the island and to talk to the residents about what is happening and how something this large could have got consent.”

In many ways, it seems fitting that a sheep is the one raising awareness about marina plans, representing the rural quality of the island that the locals are trying to preserve.

Multi acts as the perfect segue into marina conversation, causing quite a stir as she barrels through the chemist doors to greet her friend Judy, or clip-clops down the main street. “Of course it is lovely that people see a sheep, a lot of tourists have never patted a sheep – they don’t see that part of NZ, and so she’s very much a drawcard,” Voyles said. “You know, they meet her and say well hold on, what’s the marina, what’s going on?”

“Multi is my best way of disseminating this information,” said Pawley, who has lived on the island for more than 40 years and is only too happy to explain why the marina will be a mistake. “We just say well look, this is what some Auckland person wants to do to our bay, which is a very historic bay and it’s a very important bay because it is our lifeline.”

The 186-berth marina would include a floating car park for 72 cars, occupying 7.3 hectares of the bay. Pawley’s main concern is that a strong south-easterly could result in a disaster for the marina, similar to what happened in Lyttleton in 2000, when a bad storm destroyed the marina and more than 30 vessels. “If they put a marina in the corner there we could end up cut off from the mainland just like Kaikoura – it’s not a very safe anchorage where they want to build this marina.”

A holiday to Wellington to oppose this development could be just what Multi needs at the moment after her lamb Ply was killed on Wednesday. “Multi’s a bit down and out, she’s really upset,” Pawley said.

Multi has been with Sue since birth, and gained her name from her different coloured ear. (Photo supplied)

Aptly named for her multi-coloured wool, Multi has been with Pawley since she was about an hour old and has accompanied her around the island ever since, including to community meetings.

It was at one such meeting that Pawley had the brilliant idea of attaching a barrel to Multi’s back to collect money to fund their attempts to save Kennedy Point. Although her suggestion was apparently met with a “deafening silence,” Pawley’s vision was realised with help from a local craftsman, and soon the novelty of a sheep with a barrel backpack was catching people’s attention.

“She captures people like nothing mate, she’s so good with them. If I’d been wandering around with a box for money I’d have probably got about four or five thousand. Multi got $25, 000.”

When asked where Multi the money-raising mammal will stay if they end up making the Wellington trip, Pawley said the boot will have to do, but her plan is to take Multi for a good long walk around a park before bedtime “so she can have a really good snack.”

With the food-box Pawley plans to prepare, it sounds more like glamping for old Multi. “She will have lettuce and beans and broccoli and bananas and cashew nuts and feijoas if we can find them… we will put the food-box in the car and a couple of blankets… then it will be a case of getting her out and taking her for a big walk in the morning.”

Although Pawley is doubtful that they will let Multi into the Beehive, she hasn’t set her sights too low. “Even up on the steps of Parliament would be good, wouldn’t it?”

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