Bumps in the night
What’s really keeping the first couple awake
Baby Neve is not the only thing keeping the Arderns awake at night. The Prime Minister and her family appear to have a chronic possum problem at their Wellington home.
A group of the pesky marsupials has taken up residence in the walls and on the roof of Premier House — the official residence of the Prime Minister in the capital.
The Herald on Sunday understands Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford first thought the noise was rats in the kitchen and made attempts to snare the pests in September.
But a couple of days later the scrabbling noises were back, in the walls and on the roof.
And they were so loud — waking them in the night — that they realised the noise must be possums. The exterminators were called in.
Gayford addressed “concerned messages” about how tired he was looking while in New York at the UN. Now it appears we may have found the reason.
Ardern said it sounded like a cat walking around on the roof and in the walls. The extent of the infestation was not known: “I just know they’re there.
“They seem to keep similar hours to us,” she added. “I don’t hear them so much at night, they seem to be out and about more in the early morning.”
While stopping short of pointing the finger at previous tenant Sir John Key, she said the possums “may well have been there for a while”.
The Department of Internal Affairs, which manages Premier House on behalf of the Government, said a pest control company had been working at Premier House for the past three weeks “in relation to a possum issue”.
Earlier this week, it was revealed Premier House was receiving a $1 million upgrade.
A DIA spokeswoman said this would go towards “routine property upgrade, as part of DIA’s ongoing asset management processes, including budget allocation”.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this week, Ardern said the upgrade was partly for security reasons but also because parts of the stately home were run down.
“Until recently, when it rained buckets were put upstairs, so a bit of roof work was required.”
The upgrade “isn’t going to fix the fact we have possums in the roof as well”, she said.
Marion Cowden, Chairwoman of the Thorndon Residents’ Association — the suburb where Premier House is located — said it was not surprising to hear of the pest problem.
“Premier House boarders right on to the bush area in that part of the town — there is a major programme underway to get rid of predators of native birds.”
Possums are a major problem in the capital, according to the Wellington Regional Council. The problem is so apparent that the council is aiming to make Wellington the first “predator free capital city in the world”. That means no more possums.
Premier House in Wellington is popular with pesky possums.