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Gareth Morgan plays cat and mouse

Not content with declaring war on cats, the increasingly eccentric economist Gareth Morgan has also turned his sights on mice.

He wants to raise $1 million to eradicate the rodents from the sub-Antarctic Antipodes Islands, 860km southeast of Bluff.

With his wife Jo, he has pledged to match public contributions dollar for dollar, with almost $700,000 being raised to date.

“The Antipodes Islands are our ecological treasures," he says. “They are the only home for the Antipodes Island snipe and the Antipodes Island parakeet.

“Lots of other seabirds use these islands as liferafts in the Southern Ocean, to breed, feed or just rest – but we have left mice on them.”

Dr Morgan says mice, which are the only pest on the islands, eat the eggs and chicks of seabirds, as well as insects and seeds that are critical to the health of the remote outpost.

Former Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson, who lost her job in yesterday’s Cabinet reshuffle, was a strong supporter of Dr Morgan’s “million-dollar mouse campaign”.

The two of the them will no doubt be hoping that Robbie Burns immortal words, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry”, do not come true.

But with $50 million from the sale of Trade Me deposited in his charitable foundation, Mr Morgan can afford to take the odd hit.

Verbal blows

However, whether he can withstand the verbal blows coming his way of late is another matter.

Media commentators and the blogosphere are poking the borax at him for what some perceive as his increasingly bizarre behaviour, the latest being his outburst on cats.

In short, he wants to eradicate domestic cats and has set up a website called Cats to Go where he calls the animals sadists and natural-born killers that destroy native wildlife.

“The evidence of the impact of cats on our native wildlife is clear and overwhelming,” he told NBR ONLINE.

“Cats to Go is a way to demonstrate the commitment of New Zealanders to the vision of a predator-free New Zealand.

“All cats should be registered, chipped and neutered, and the owners responsible for their pets whereabouts, just as happens with dogs.

“Any unregistered cats found on anyone’s property should be taken away by the council and euthanised,” he says.

But this has drawn the scorn of many around the country with SPCA chief executive Bob Kerridge calling the proposal “hare-brained” and offensive.

Media commentator Duncan Garner is even more blunt:

“I think Morgan has gone bonkers – stick to soccer – you’re ruining that with the Phoenix in Wellington, anyway. Get back to running your KiwiSaver accounts, Gareth. This is madness,” he says.

Blogger David Farrar is just as vitriolic, saying: “What a fruitcake campaign. Absolute nuts. Why not offer a toaster to every family who has one child only as children are also bad for nature.

“This is so nutty I’d withdraw any funds I have in his KiwiSaver scheme if I had any there.”

Cameron Slater, aka Whaleoil, says “mad Morgan certainly knows no bounds when doing nutty things”.

“In the last year or so he’s fattened up penguins for hungry Southern Ocean orca, paid for a homeless man to have a funeral instead of helping him when he was alive, convinced himself he can coach soccer teams, called Federated Farmers environmental retards, wished death upon a mentally unstable sailor and now the cat holocaust.”

Just how this catfight plays out is far from clear as there are bound to be many others out there who are still sharpening their claws.

There again the unpredictable Dr Morgan might just be playing cat and mouse.




More by Rod Vaughan

Comments and questions

I wish GM would spend more time in trying to make some money for my retirement than his sideline stunts. If I was rolling in it like he is I wouldn't mind, but I'm not!

Unfortunately, he cashed out of that (sold to Kiwibank) so the only pockets he's lined are his own.

This man is just insane. No one should listen to him.

Teldar Paper- If you are in the GM's Kiwi Saver plan then you should know it was sold to KiwiBank sometime back, so they are the people who have to do the work for you.
As for raising money to rid the island of rats, that's old news. GM started that after the trip to Antartica last summer.

I realise the schemes were sold to Kiwibank but GM is still on the investment governance committee of the GMI.

Easy solution. Take all the cats GM doesn't want around, and send them to the Antipodes Islands to eradicate the mice. There's an easy win-win.
And just to add another -win, why not send GM to supervise?

I guess using cats is out of the question :-)

Who cares what Duncan Garner thinks? Or Farrar of Slater. Morgan is corrrect but Kiwis are too lazy and too stupid to head the warning.

Actually, he's right on. The cats and mice stuff (we've been trying to eradicate rodents from offshore islands for decades, haven't we? And inviting people to consider the evidence and our natural environment when thinking about replacing their cats is hardly the 'cat culling' claimed by a worked-up media). The difference it seems to me is that he shares, very frankly, an argument based on logic, whereas others simply poke the borax. Play the ball, not the man.
And it would be nice for environmentalists, DOC, Forest & Bird and other professionals in the field to start backing up what they've been quietly saying for years. Here's a man with the cojones to say it, and he gets vilified by people too lazy to think, and left out to dry by others too scared to have the strength of their convictions.

Nope, Morgan's become an eco-fascist trying to impose his values and "final solution" on everyone else.

However, his son's success has enabled him to travel everywhere and find new ways of annoying people wherever he goes.

Hey Gareth! Another crowd of boneheads decided that cats were bad way back in the Middle Ages. Also known as the dark ages. Shortly after getting rid of cats, Europe's population died by the millions of disease. Because rodents went unchecked. Let Mother Nature take care of these things. Why don't you stick to the economy. Even though economists can't seem to get much right these days. And you can keep birds. All they do is dump on your car after you wash it.

If Mother Nature is to "take care of this", then we stand a very good chance of losing our birdlife. Cats have claws and sharp teeth, birds have soft feathers. They are not very good bedfellows.

And mankind was dumb enough to bring the cats and mice to this part of the world, where they have caused untold damage. So trying to get rid of the pests is hardly a case of interferring with Mother Nature.

And so have humans, who are the biggest predator.

Dr Morgan maintains a continuous public profile. Do these cat and mouse games mean he intends standing for Wellington mayoralty later this year so needs to 'out-green' Celia W-B?
John Milne

People should be able to keep a cat. On their own property, not mine. I should be able to trap cats on my property and have the local council dispose of the cat. Cat owners should pay a license fee to the council to run the service. All cats should be neutered, if caught un-neutered cats should be put down. Etc., etc. Hurrah for Gareth.

Maybe Ray Spring should be neutered.

If caught not neutered - he should be put down.

Freddy, you sum up the cat lovers' idiotic views. Cat lovers want to keep their cat on my property, as well as their own. I do not want cats on my property. But there is nothing I can legally do about.
Cat lovers are a public nuisance, and they, and their cats, should be put down.

Yawn, what's next? Eradicating lions in Africa? (dangerous to the zebra population). Tigers in India? (dangerous to the peasant population).

Climate change, Kiwisaver, cats, and now rats. Talk about a god complex.

Lions are native to Africa. Tigers are native to India. Cats are not native to New Zealand. Crucial, and very obvious, difference.
Introduced species that compete successfully in new ecosystems will displace native species and interfere with delicate ecosystem processes.

Gareth's in a foul frame of mind and is lashing out because his investment in the Phoenix is going the same way had he ploughed his dough into a Paraguayan lettuce mine. And his bird isn't going to rise up any time soon from the ashes. So, he better go buy himself a nice decorative urn.

Have you given any thought, Gareth, to vets, catteries, cat food manufacturers, pet shops, breeders, etc, and the wide-ranging effect your eradicating of cats would have on these people and businesses. Are you prepared to compensate and provide for all of this? Not, I am sure!

Think of all the cat food that would be saved! We could send it to Africa to stem starvation of humans there. And who's the first person who will complain that cat food is not suitable for humans? Doesn't hurt cats, why would it hurt humans?

Maybe we can trial every existing can of cat food on you first. Seems like your brain has been starved of its nutrition.

Let's eradicate financial advisers setting up Kiwisaver funds with the intent of selling their portfolio for a pretty penny.

Who will do it then?

Why do rich / famous people get a platform to force their views on others. And worse, why do they think we should listen? Gareth Morgan = Keisha Castle-Hughes...

Obviously a case of too much money and too much time.

The eccentric GM has every right to express his views and be wrong or right. However, he is coming across to me as a bit of a show pony who revels in lecturing we mere mortals, quipping away telling people to put their money where their mouth is like he so generously does (I say that sincerely) on all manner of things, all the while inferring his superiority for funding football and island conservation, etc. Laudable. Admirable, etc, and I respect and admire his success, and even some of his crusades. A dose of humility might work wonders for you, Gareth.

GM is absolutely right. Cats are lovely cuddly hard-wired killers. Our cat has killed at least a dozen birds over three years, and those are only the ones we know about. Mulitplying that by the million or so cats in the country provides some idea of the scale of devastation they cause. They should be a controlled species.

Just like humans should be.

He's not mad, he has sound arguments on this and many other matters, especially Fed' Faners. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So he's passionate about them. At least he has passions and puts his head above the parapet to voice them. What have you lot done lately? Maybe some of you quoted above need to redirect some of your passion for trolling into more positive causes, instead of being ignoramuses.

And c'mon, Rod, "...increasingly eccentric economist Gareth Morgan" - in who's mind? Talk about judgmental.

A geneticist was talking about using DNA to restore extinct species like Neanderthals and the impossibility of recreating microscopic and soil specie that populated a Neanderthal gut. Giving life to something is far more complex than that if we want a life that ill thrive.
So restoring a native species numbers is a little less simplistic than eradicating a key predator.
The whole web of interaction has changed.

If we fail to understand those interactions then we're only prolonging the inevitable.

This dude obviously doesn't know how plague started. Get an eduCATion, Mr Wise Man Morgan.