Animal rights group PETA has staged a topless protest in Christchurch to condemn a local fashion designer's use of possum fur, despite the animal being considered a pest.
Two women and one man stood outside Annah Stretton's store in Sydenham wearing nothing but black briefs, holding a sign emblazoned with a call to go 'fur-free'.
A spokesperson for the group attacked the designer for using "cruelly produced material", saying animals with valuable fur suffer terribly when killed with poison or in traps.
"Annah Stretton sentences countless animals to violent, excruciating deaths, just for a tacky look most consumers wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole," the statement reads.
"PETA is advising Stretton to make the compassionate and business-savvy decision to ban all vulgar fur from her line before shoppers walk away for good."
A representative for the designer, Sheryl Glover, says possums are a pest and destroy New Zealand's native forests, and were only introduced to New Zealand specifically for their fur.
"We sell a limited amount of ethically harvested possum fur products, sourced from registered trappers using Department of Conservation recommended humane methods of capture," she says.
"The damage to native forests can be seen all too clearly in many areas. Possums ignore old leaves and select the best new growth. In some areas they have eaten whole canopies of rata, totara, titoki, kowhai and kohekohe."
Ms Glover also argued the possum fur industry was bigger than Manuka honey in New Zealand ,and delivered over $130 million a year.
She encouraged the public to buy possum fur, saying it would "save a tree".