An activist is calling for a ban to school possum hunts after a rural Auckland school's fundraiser saw baby possums drowned in a bucket.
The practice has drawn the ire of the SPCA, which criticised the slaughter as being inhumane.
Drury School says in a statement the annual possum hunt is organised by Friends of Drury School, a parent-run organisation.
In the hunt, it's encouraged to kill as many possums as possible over three nights. The corpses are then brought in for a final weigh-in, with the fur sold as part of the fundraiser.
Hunters are supposed to remove and "humanely dispose" of all joeys before bringing them in for the weigh-in. Any that remains are "put down in a manner that was believed to be lawful", the school says.
But this is where it's alleged the trouble started.
"[A] young girl was put in charge of taking baby joeys from the possum's pouch and drowning them in a bucket of water," activist Lynley Tulloch alleges in a petition to Education Minister Nikki Kaye.
Drowning is not considered a humane manner of euthanasia.
Drury School has denied any young children were "involved in the removal or disposal of the joeys".
"A number of teenagers were among the volunteers who gave up their time to assist with running the event."
It says it's since been contacted by the SPCA and told the way it killed the joeys wasn't humane, and will be working with the SPCA in the future "to ensure that all animal welfare requirements are met".
The school did not address the allegations the method of killing was by drowning them in a bucket.
Ms Tulloch says the possum hunting fundraisers, while popular, "demonstrate an absolute lack of conscience".
"This is made more disturbing as it involves young children who are still in the process of developing their personal values.
"In an educational context this is completely inappropriate.
"Surely in a world that is in desperate need of more compassion we should be modelling a more considered approach to our environment and the animals that live there."
As of early Sunday afternoon, her petition has more than 6200 supporters.
While possums are considered pests in New Zealand, killing millions of native birds every year, it's still required they are killed in a humane manner.