“South Auckland man Paea Taufa was found roasting his pitbull terrier-cross in an umu pit at his home in Mangere,” reads a story in the New Zealand Herald. “The dog had been skinned and gutted and was partially charred when SPCA inspectors arrived.”
The story continues:
Mr Taufa said he had been surprised when inspectors arrived because dog was a delicacy in Tonga. “I didn’t know I couldn’t cook the dog. In Tonga, any time there I cook the dog and it is okay. Dog is good food.” He had decided to cook the dog because it was too skinny and had become unmanageable. He rendered the dog unconscious with a blow to the head before slitting its throat, which is regarded as humane.
Under the Animal Welfare Act it is legal to kill a dog in New Zealand if the animal is slaughtered swiftly and painlessly. However, SPCA Auckland chief executive Garth Halliday said Mr Taufa’s actions were unacceptable. “Although we appreciate the difference of cultures that exist in a place like New Zealand, the SPCA finds this sort of treatment of any animal to be totally unacceptable,” he said.
Meanwhile, columnist Brian Rudman added fuel to the fire with a clear-headed piece of analysis headlined, “Throw another pit bull on the barbie”:
The SPCA and the Minister of Agriculture, David Carter, are baying for the blood of Paea Taufa for bopping his pit bull on the head and recycling it in a backyard umu. They should be giving him a medal. If every pit bull owner in the land followed his lead, New Zealand would be a safer place to live.
Instead of Mr Carter harrumphing on television about the need for new citizens to adopt our cultural values, he should have been encouraging Mr Taufa on to the pre-news cooking slot to persuade the pit bull fraternity their pets, once barbecued, were as delicious as crayfish or rare sirloin…
[F]or some reason, our culture, unlike, say Tongans and Koreans, has decided to treat dogs primarily as pets rather than food. However, even with pets, the line is hazy. Pet sheep and calves do turn into the Sunday roast. So let’s not get too sanctimonious over one dead pit bull.
Rudman or the SPCA? The choice is clear: light that grill.