Long­est walk reaches Wai­heke

Waiheke Marketplace - - Front Page - ROSE DAVIS

Af­ter eight months of walk­ing from In­ver­cargill, Stephen Bras­sett has reached Wai­heke Is­land SPCA.

Bras­sett is mak­ing The Long­est Walk to raise aware­ness of an­i­mal wel­fare agen­cies through­out New Zealand. He has vis­ited about 30 an­i­mal shel­ters so far, but has more to go be­fore he gets to Kaitaia SPCA at the top of the North Is­land.

‘‘My goal is to pro­mote what the SPCA and other res­cue or­gan­i­sa­tions are do­ing. I want to en­cour­age peo­ple who have an affin­ity for an­i­mal wel­fare to get ac­tively in­volved, to vol­un­teer or give their man­power or wom­an­power,’’ he said.

His com­pan­ions on the long jour­ney are a 12-year-old chi­huahua called Pic­colo and a six-year-old pug-cross called Jake.

On the up­hill trek to the is­land SPCA on Septem­ber 5, Bras­sett ad­mits he was pulling Pic­colo aboard the cart that has acted as his com­pact mo­bile home since he set off on Jan­uary 7.

It’s clear the mis­sion has been hard work, but Bras­sett has no com­plaints. ‘‘It’s the most free I have ever been and prob­a­bly ever will be, so it’s pretty awe­some. What aw­ful weather is de­pends on your at­ti­tude.’’

The fit 34-year-old has been veg­e­tar­ian for the past six years. ‘‘I re­alised I didn’t like killing an­i­mals and I de­cided it was not okay for me to have other peo­ple killing an­i­mals for me, par­tic­u­larly when I don’t need to.’’

His last job was as an an­i­mal han­dler at an SPCA in Aus­tralia, be­fore he be­came an ‘‘ex­treme no­mad’’.

Bras­sett’s call to sup­port ani- mal wel­fare groups comes as SPCAS through­out New Zealand strug­gle to con­tinue their work car­ing for un­wanted an­i­mals and pro­mot­ing an­i­mal wel­fare.

Wai­heke SPCA has voted to be­come an in­de­pen­dent agency, rather than hand over its as­sets and adopt na­tional poli­cies as branches through­out New Zealand are amal­ga­mated into ’One SPCA’.

Royal New Zealand SPCA chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drea Mid­gen said the char­ity needs to act in a more uni­fied way to sur­vive.

‘‘The SPCA’S cur­rent struc­ture is not fit-for-pur­pose, nor is it sus­tain­able. We want to en­sure that all an­i­mals get the best pos­si­ble care the SPCA can pro­vide, and that’s achieved by shar­ing re­sources across the coun­try,’’ Mid­gen said.

‘‘It's the most free I have ever been and prob­a­bly ever will be’’ Stephen Bras­sett

Stephen Bras­sett with Wai­heke SPCA man­ager Michell San­ders. ROSE DAVIS/STUFF

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