Possums are now paihamu

If you’re old enough you’ll remember that kiwifruit were once Chinese gooseberries and tamarillos were tree tomatoes.

Now there’s been another name change – possums have become paihamu:

Once referred to as Australian Brushtail possum, the industry is returning to the Maori word Paihamu to avoid confusion with the American possum (which is a different species, looks different and lacks the silky and warm fur quality).

Call them what you will, they’re still a pest in forests and on farms.

They compete with native birds for food, eat young growth of trees , destroying forests, and sometimes dine on birds’ eggs and chicks. They also carry tuberculosis which is a danger to beef and dairy cattle and deer.

But their fur is wonderful, and mixed with merino makes clothes which look good, feel better and are very good at keeping winter chills at bay.

3 Responses to Possums are now paihamu

  1. Deborah says:

    It might be easier to sell clothes made from paihamu fur than it is to sell clothes made from possum fur. So there could be good branding reasons for the name change.


  2. MonicaABCDE says:

    New Zealand “possum” fur, fiber and leathers are so much finer than products from the US “possum”, a distant cousin.

    So the name change to NZ paihamu, the Maori name, helps a lot.

    NZ paihamu is the source of a lovely fur pelt, a very nice and strong leather and, when mixed with wool, it creates a sensational fabric that is warm, light and long lasting.

    Here are a couple of really good articles on paihamu:

    Click to access fur1j.pdf



  3. Cindy says:

    They’re protected in Australia, though I believe some groups are pushing to be allowed to cull. Another reason to not import animals from other countries. We have a problem with Foxes – though they’re beautiful creatures, they’re seen as a pest because they destroy local wildlife. Someone’s love is someone else’s nightmare…


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