New Zealand’s Southern Paws Fur Con – Q&A with Votter, the con chair
by Patch O'Furr
Recent world news made me interested in featuring New Zealand furry news. That’s how I found their new con, leading to a positive story with Votter.
Australian and NZ furs have a fairly active scene. Some of the first activity I found in the fandom was 1990’s furry zine South Fur Lands from the late and beloved Marko Rat (site kept by Bernard Doove, prolific creator known for Chakats and the Ursa Major Awards). And I often love seeing what the Ozfurs do with their annual float in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade (street fursuiting is my favorite thing, and I’d call it one of the best examples in the furry world.) Even so, news from Down Under may not reach overseas. I haven’t written much about it (but for previous news, there is this story about animation and a successful fursuit maker.)
When Votter sent thanks for noticing Southern Paws Fur Con, he said: “I never expected to get international attention. It is honestly kind of exciting – we want to try to bring some joy and positivity to the world.”
(Patch): Hi Votter. What’s the furry scene like locally to you, and maybe in the larger region? Do any of you go to cons already established in Australia or travel farther than that? Does your local area have particularly special events or well loved fursuit makers or artists to mention?
(Votter:) The furry scene in Christchurch is reasonably tight knit, sure some of us don’t always get along with each other but that is normal in any community regardless of size. We all have the people we see more often than others, but for the most part we are fairly friendly to each other.
There are members of the local community both inside the con team and outside of the con team that do go to international cons both in Australia and further. Our media person, Pancake has frequented a few of the international conventions.
We also have a few local suit makers. Our own con artist has made a few suits over the years, Kittyraa (AKA Insert Fur Here) is one I’d like to highlight and is first to come to mind. Artists we would like to highlight include Lupa on Furaffinity: http://www.furaffinity.net/user/lovethewolfgirl/ Ferrilo on FA: https://www.furaffinity.net/user/ferrilo/ On Twitter: https://twitter.com/ferrilol
— 🍫Cacao Canis lupus 🇳🇿 (@ferrilol) April 2, 2019
How did the con get started? Do you have programming different from the typical con, and do you expect anything like international guests or media notice? Who are the guests of honor and staff? Is there any prep that’s going very well?
So, this con has a bit of a story behind it to be honest. There has been a number of discussions in the Christchurch community since I joined the fandom about 8 years ago about hosting a con down south. Unfortunately around that time the community here had maybe 12 regular meet attendees. Since then we have grown the community out. We have about 30 people in our local chat. We have about 15 people who go to almost every meet that we host here, which does make it a bit crowded on movie nights, but that’s fine.
Since the community has grown I started having discussions 2 or 3 years ago about seeing what we can get going. Since then we’ve moved into planning more, and during FurCoNZ last year Baz, my co-chairman let it slip that we were starting work on a con in the south island. We’ve been working hard to get everything sorted. We now have a location, we also have the website up and running and we have started getting people registered.
Our programming is likely a little bit different to a “typical” con, but that is due to the nature of what we do in New Zealand. The first major difference to international cons is that it is hosted at a camp site with cabins and bunkrooms rather than at a hotel or convention centre. We are also only running the con for 2 nights from Friday evening to Sunday around noon.
At the moment we also have a confidence course, along with an archery session and an air rifle target shooting session scheduled during the Saturday.
Due to the abundance of outdoor space it also allows for a bit more outdoor activities to happen at the con.
We also were not expecting much in the way of international attention for the con due to it being fairly small and also our first year. It is hard to get one of these started up. Our goal for attendance is also only about 70 attendees including staff, which makes it a lot smaller compared to international cons.
Is there anything else you can say about being furry in NZ? Do you have any media or art that’s loved locally and maybe not known outside?
The New Zealand community is fairly small, but still well over 400 people, if the facebook group is accurate. While it is mostly spread across three of the countries main centres (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) we can still move between them and likely find someone who is not far away. We also seem to generally have an idea of any major updates in the nationwide community, which does make things useful.
Thanks, Votter – Chairman of Southern Paws Fur Con