Enjoy Otorohanga’s 24 Kiwiana exhibits of kiwi icons, heroes, history – weetbix, marmite, Colin Meads, Sir Edmund Hillary, school milk etc

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Twenty-five Kiwiana display boxes in Otorohanga’s main street provide a fascinating insight into New Zealand’s popular culture. Each beautifully crafted exhibit features a slice of "Kiwiana" – a tribute to our national icons, heroes, history and way of life. Prepare to be entertained, amused, informed and fascinated as you view our celebration of Kiwiana – "We are proud to be Kiwi!"

(You’ll find 15 of the Kiwiana exhibits in the Ed Hillary Walkway and 10 in nearby shop windows.)

> All Blacks
> Team New Zealand
> Aunt Daisy
> Bonus Bonds
> Bruce McLaren
> Buzzy Bee
> Ches'n'Dale
> Colin Meads
> The Farm Dog
> The Way we Played
> No.8 Wire
> The Kiwi
> Aotearoa
> Marmite
> NZ Music
> Pavlova
> Quarter Acre Section
> Rural Life
> School Milk
> School Days
> Sheep
> Sir Edmund Hillary
> Weetbix
> Come to the Table

History of Rugby - "The Oval Ball"

> view The Haka posterThe oval ball was first contested in New Zealand at Nelson in 1870. The rules for the new game of rugby union had only recently been brought back from England, but they quickly caught on, with clubs being formed around the country from the early 1870s. In 1882 the first overseas rugby team - from New South Wales - played in New Zealand. Two years later the first team from this country went on an overseas tour - again to New South Wales - and won all of its eight matches.

The rapid spread of rugby in this country resulted in the formation of the New Zealand Rugby Union in 1892. Even then, players at club and provincial level aspired to the national team, which became known as the All Blacks on a tour of Britain in 1905. It is said that the name was the result of a printer's error, with "all backs" - a journalist's reference to the team's speed - appearing as "all blacks". From 1901 the team's jersey and shorts were black, so the new name - even if accidental - was appropriate, and stuck.

The ranks of the All Blacks have been filled with individuals of varying ethnic backgrounds, including Maori, Polynesian and European, all bound by their abilities on the rugby field. Another distinctive aspect of the team is the traditional Maori haka, performed before each game. The All Blacks present the ancient performing art form to the world and, at the same time, may also manage to unnerve their opposition. On their tour of Britain the 1905 team performed a haka which has been attributed to the famous chief Te Rauparaha, but it may have been performed by an earlier visiting Maori rugby team in 1888-9.

"Kick it!"

The All Black jersey is one of the nation's most prestigious sporting uniforms, and in 2001 the number of elite players to have worn it reached 1,000. This country's traditional rival on the rugby field has been the Springboks from South Africa, but serious competition is now provided by the Wallabies from across the Tasman. For nearly a century the All Blacks have maintained a fine international record, one of their first achievements being the winning of the first Rugby World Cup tournament in 1987.

"Historically, New Zealand rugby fans have shown great dedication in the pursuit of their national game. Before the days of live television coverage they would rise from their beds in the middle of the night and huddle around radio sets and teapots to follow important matches on the other side of the world. Back home, they regularly wrapped up against the elements in order to watch their team in action.

And despite the best intentions of the national selectors, every rugby fan has an opinion on who should - and shouldn't - be wearing the exclusive All Blacks jersey. The true fans' involvement can also extend to providing a running commentary on the game. Sound advice is offered from the terraces and the stands - "Kick it!" or perhaps "Pass it!" - as the fans urge on the men in black. And if their team doesn't do so well on the day, there is always the referee to blame".

> view The Haka posterNew Zealander's competitive sailors have traditionally honed their nautical skills in small P-class yachts. This experience has won them success in numerous Olympic classes and around-the-world races, as well as the most sought after of all yachting trophies.

The America's Cup was first contested in 1851 when the American schooner "America" easily defeated a fleet of 14 British boats in a race around the Isle of Wight. The United States took home the ornate silver ewer and held it for the next 132 years. The coveted Cup is now the world's oldest continuously contested sports trophy.

America's hold on the Cup was finally broken in 1983 when "Australia II" defeated "Liberty" and took the trophy back to Perth. New Zealand then began its first bid for yachting's biggest prize led by merchant banker, Sir Michael Fay, on behalf of the Mercury Bay Boating Club. The New Zealand entry performed well in 1987, but was eliminated from the competition by Australia's "Kookaburra II", which was eventually beaten by the San Diego Yacht Club's "Stars & Stripes". New Zealand challenged again in 1988 and 1992, but the Cup was retained by one of the best known skippers in the business, American Dennis Connor.

In 1995 the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron launched its "Team New Zealand" campaign. Sir Peter Blake headed the challenge and helmsman, Russell Coutts, steered "Black Magic" to a five-nil victory in the challengers' series off San Diego. It was during this campaign that Sir Peter Blake's "lucky" red socks captured the public imagination and proved a highly successful sales promotion for Team New Zealand.

At last New Zealand claimed the America's Cup and its arrival stimulated the redevelopment of Auckland's Viaduct Harbour. In 2000 this country successfully retained the trophy, defeating Prada of Italy.

"Against All Odds"
The Story of ANZAC

ANZAC Day is a public holiday when New Zealanders and Australians remember their war dead. The name is derived from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, dispatched to the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey during the First World War. These troops were landed on a small rocky beach beneath steep cliffs on 25 April, 1915, the day that became known as Anzac Day. Their mission was to attempt the impossible, the capturing of key Turkish positions above the beach. Under constant fire and suffering from a shortage of supplies, the Anzacs had the added discomforts of thirst, vermin and flies in the fierce summer heat. Occasionally they were able to make a slight advance, only to be repulsed by the Turks. After eight months the situation was hopeless and the decision was made to evacuate. The last troops left the beach on 9 January 1916, and the disastrous Gallipoli campaign was over.

This country's losses at Gallipoli were 2,721 men dead and another 4,752 wounded. Troops from New Zealand and Australia had endured the most appalling conditions, but had proved their abilities on the battlefield. They were now comrades in arms, and every Anzac Day the two countries remember the terrible price they paid for this gallantry.

"Poppy Day"

An important part of New Zealand's war remembrance is Poppy Day, the day before Anzac Day. This association dates back to the early 19th century when blood red poppies were observed springing up on the old battlefields of Europe. The poppy became known as the "flower of sacrifice and remembrance", and in 1915 was the subject of the poem "In Flanders Field", written by a Canadian at the second battle of Ypres:

In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
Beneath the crosses row on row.

Col. John McCrae

This poem led to the wearing of a poppy as a token of remembrance. The first Poppy Day was held in Britain in 1921 and the following 24 April saw the custom reach New Zealand. The red flowers were sold to raise funds for needy ex-service personnel and their families. The earliest poppies had fabric petals and a fabric-covered wire stem, but are now made of moulded plastic.

"Good Morning, Good Morning"

One of this country's most famous radio programmes began in 1937 and lasted for 25 years. For half an hour, from 9 o'clock every weekday morning, hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders tuned in on their Columbus, Skyscraper and Pacemaker (*) radio sets to listen to Aunt Daisy.

"Daily Companion"

Maud Ruby Basham, known as Daisy from childhood, was born in London and came to New Zealand at the age of ten. She went to school at New Plymouth, where she also trained as a teacher and topped the country in science. In 1904 she married civil engineer, Frederick Basham, and the couple lived in Hawera, Eltham, Waipukarau and the Hauraki Plains, bringing up their three children.

Daisy Basham's introduction to radio came in 1926 at station 1YA, Auckland, where she gave broadcasts on musical topics. This led to a children's programme where she became known as "Aunt Daisy". In 1937 she moved to Wellington and at the age of 54 began the morning session that made her famous. Originating from 2ZB, it was networked throughout the country and quickly became a national institution.

The inimitable Aunt Daisy broke all the rules, becoming the most popular broadcaster of her time. She was blessed with a remarkable clarity of diction, and could deliver a rapid-fire monologue on a wide range of subjects.

She also had a great sense of curiosity and wonder and a genuine concern for people. In pre-television days she was a daily companion for many New Zealanders. A large proportion of her listeners were housewives taking a break from their domestic duties. Aunt Daisy offered a thought for the day and had an endless supply of handy hints and recipes, which were the subjects of her many books. Among her enthusiastic product endorsements was Bushell's Tea, recently introduced to New Zealand from Australia. This would have been the ideal "cuppa" too.

Handy Tips from Aunt Daisy

"Good morning everybody!"

Three generations of New Zealanders responded to that radio show greeting from Aunt Daisy every morning at nine o'clock. Thousands of children learned to repeat it after her. Her listeners were cheered by her unquenchable optimism, especially during the wartime years - she could always find a patch of blue sky on the stormiest morning. Aunt Daisy's distinctive voice could be heard on radio promoting products of the day, sharing favorite recipes and dispensing handy hints to make life a little easier.

A few of her handy hints:

Ants Stand legs of table in tins of water or tie fur around the legs - prevents them from crawling up.
Bee Sting   To relieve a bee sting, take the outside peel of an orange and squeeze it on the sting. The oil in the orange skin relieves the pain.
Beetroot Stains   When beetroot stains the tablecloth, soak a piece of white bread in water and lay on. Also good for fruit stains.
Blood Stains   Never put anything hot on bloodstains. Try soaking in cold water containing washing soda or salt.
Blowing Bubbles   Add a few drops of glycerine to the soapy water; it helps the children to blow larger, stronger and bright-coloured soap bubbles.
Boot Polish on Evening Frocks   First sponge with alcohol or carbon tetrachloride and then with warm soapy water, afterwards rinsing with clean water.
Brass Knobs & Taps   After polishing, rub up with a floury rag; they will stay bright longer.
  In hot weather, churn early in the morning - 5 or 6 o'clock - while cream is cool. Also put cold water through churn, not boiling water, as one would do in winter.
Butter (to preserve for winter)   Make up butter, as for table use, into 1 pound pats. Wrap up each pound in greaseproof paper and place it in brine made of salt and water strong enough to float an egg or potato.
(to make moist)
  Add a well-chopped apple to fruit cake. Makes it richer and more moist.
Cane Chairs   When cane chairs sag, sponge with hot, strongly salted water. Stand in draught to dry and do not use for a day or two.
Carpets   An underlay, even of thick papers, will prolong the life of the carpet.
(to convert to Lino)
  When worn out, reverse them and shake well. Paint all over the wrong side with a thin, boiled starch paste or with size. Then paint with a good floor enamel - any colours - a contrasting border is nice. These can be washed.
Cereal Coffee   Warm 2 tablespoons golden syrup in meat tin, then add 2 breakfast cups bran. Bake a golden brown and store in airtight jar. To make coffee, pour boiling water on bran, add hot milk and leave awhile to steep.
(to keep fresh)
  Put a lump of sugar in the cheese dish. To prevent from going mouldy after being cut, wrap it in a piece of muslin wrung out in vinegar.
Chimney on Fire   Close doors and windows to stop all draught and throw plenty of salt on the fire.
(to prevent running)
  Grate 2 medium potatoes as finely as possible. Add ½ cup vinegar and ½ cup salt. Stand for 10 minutes and add 1 gallon of water. Soak articles in this for 20 minutes before washing as usual.
Crayon on Wallpaper   Rub hard with slices or crusts of fresh bread or bread dough. Use clean pieces of bread as the others become soiled.
Don't Pat Strange Dogs   A pat on the head of a dog upsets his nerves and has an irritating effect. Stroke him only.
Flies in Food Safe   Keep a small spider in one corner. Put a few grains of sugar in daily to keep him happy. Fish Odour Add mustard to washing up water to remove the odour of fish.
(to clean)
  Clean furniture before polishing with a cloth wrung out in weak cold tea. Grass Stains Soak in methylated spirits, then wash.
Hands, Chapped   Mix equal quantities of mutton fat and icing sugar and rub in night and morning and after washing.
(to preserve)
  Be careful in your selection. Do not choose too young. When once selected, give your entire thoughts to preparation for domestic use. Some insist in keeping them in a pickle, others are constantly getting them into hot water. This may make them sour, hard and sometimes bitter. Even poor varieties may be made sweet, tender and good by garnishing them with patience, well sweetened with love and seasoned with kisses. Wrap them in a mantle of charity. Keep warm with a steady fire of domestic devotion and serve with peaches and cream. Thus prepared, they will keep for years.
Mice   Bait the trap with bread soaked in vanilla. They love vanilla.
(to bake)
  When roasting potatoes with meat sprinkle a little sugar on bottom of dish. Potatoes brown deliciously.
Rice   Add a few drops of lemon juice when boiling rice. Improves flavour and helps to separate the grains.
Scones   When making scones, they will be much lighter and finer if a tablespoon of cornflour is added.
Shoes (to turn brown shoes black)   Rub shoe over with a freshly cut potato, leave to dry, then blacken with ordinary nugget.
Snails & Slugs   Put down oatmeal at the edge of the garden and cover it with boards. Next morning the board will be covered with slugs, which may then be taken off and burnt.
Soup   Always add a little Marmite to vegetable soup and a little chopped mint.
(to clean)
  Make a pad of newspaper and sprinkle with ammonia. Rub the insides of the window with this and you may not be troubled with flies.

"My Turn to Win"

In 1970 the Government launched Bonus Bonds through the Post Office Savings Bank to encourage New Zealanders to save. Today Bonus Bonds are managed by ANZ, which bought PostBank from the Government in 1988.

Bonus Bonds proved an instant success. They offered a Government-guaranteed savings scheme with the added attraction of monthly tax-paid prizes. Investors bought a minimum of 20 tickets at $1 each, their money going into low-risk investments. Earnings were distributed as monthly prizes and the chances of winning were around 1 in 9600.

Winning Bonus Bonds numbers are still picked monthly by a computer called ELSIE (Electronic Selection Indicator Equipment). In 1971 ELSIE was built of transistors and took up an entire room. Today she looks like an ordinary desk-top computer.

Nearly one third of all New Zealanders now own Bonus Bonds - either as individuals, joint holders or through trusts, clubs and companies - and to date they have won some two and a half million prizes worth more than $1 billion. In 1970 the first prize in the monthly draw was $10,000 - then a substantial amount of money. Today this has been increased to $300,000.

Today Bonus Bonds represent the largest managed fund in the country. New Zealanders continue to invest with Bonus Bonds, also proving to be popular gifts for children and grandchildren. And each month some lucky Bonus Bond holder receives that letter advising them they've just won $300,000!

A $50 Bonus Bond was bought by parents for their baby. It won a $10,000 prize within a couple of months of purchase and when the child reached seven, that same Bond number won a further $15,000!

Many years ago, a $10,000 prize was won by a dog after a North Island family had decided to buy Bonus Bonds for all members, including their dog. The prize was eventually paid to the dog's owner but only after a suitable declaration as to the Bondholder's identity was received. ( Sorry - Bonus Bonds can no longer be bought for Rover or Fluffy! )

One Auckland woman, who had won $25,000 with a $1 Bonus Bond was finally tracked down by officials after five years of searching. In another interesting coincidence, a husband and wife both won $5,000 prizes in the same monthly draw on Bonus Bonds they had purchased years apart.

From Backyard to Grand Prix

One of New Zealand's best Grand Prix drivers was born with motor racing in his blood. Bruce McLaren learned the art of broadsiding on his tricycle at a young age and worked on his early "racing machines" at his father's service station in Remuera, Auckland. At the age of fourteen he began an engineering course at Seddon Technical College and later followed in his father's footsteps and took up motor racing.

Bruce McLaren's first car was an Austin 7 Ulster, which he drove on a well-worn figure-8 course around the fruit trees on the back section at home. As soon as he was old enough to gain a licence he took part in local hill climbs and sprint meetings and was now allowed to race his father's Austin Healy at Ardmore, near Papakura. He showed great promise on the track and was awarded the New Zealand International Grand Prix Association's "Driver to Europe" scholarship in 1958. That year he took part in his first Grand Prix in Germany and his first Formula One victory was in Belgium in 1960. When he won his first Grand Prix at Sebring in the United States in 1959, he became the youngest driver ever to win a world championship Formula One event, a record that still stands.

The inspired creation of Auckland brothers, Hector (Hec) and John Ramsey, the Buzzy Bee has endeared itself to millions of New Zealanders. An intriguing concoction of clackety-clack sound, quivering antennae, spinning wings and bold colour, this delightful pull-along toy has been produced in the hundreds of thousands since its first release in the mid 1940s and is now seen worldwide.

From turning out wooden cores for toilet rolls and wooden doorknobs, Hec Ramsey first ventured into toys with the release of the famous Mary Lou doll in 1941.

It was an immediate hit - with generations of New Zealanders destined to cut their teeth on its beaded limbs - and soon after other character wooden toys were added, including Richard Rabbit, Oscar Ostrich and Dorable Duck.

John Ramsey joined the company after the end of the war and was instrumental in designing the Buzzy Bee and sourcing the New Zealand Tawa timber from which it was made.

Following a fire at the factory in the late 1970s, the Buzzy Bee operation was sold into a number of different hands.

The Buzzy Bee has since blossomed into all sorts of products from jigsaws, story books, jewellery to mobiles, pillow cases and underwear.

The Boys from Down on the Farm

New Zealand's most famous cheese is supported by two other well-known characters, Ches and Dale. These rural types first appeared in the early 1960s, designed and suitably dressed in gumboots and black singlets by graphic artists, Dick Frizzell and Sam Harvey. They first went on television in 1965, singing the song that would soon be heard wherever New Zealanders travelled abroad:

"We are the boys from down on the farm,
we really know our cheese
There's much better value in Chesdale, it never fails to please
Chesdale slices thinly, never crumbles, there's no waste
And boy, it's got a mighty taste
Chesdale cheese - it's finest cheddar, made better!"

Ches and Dale were retired from television advertising around 1975 and when they were relaunched in 1997 they were accompanied by Ches Junior. They acquired a further dimension in 2000 with the introduction of Ches and Dale character suits and actors are now hired to play the characters at shopping malls and supermarkets around the country.

Finest Cheddar, Made Better

Colin Meads, All Black It is claimed that "the most famous rugby player in the world" was born on a farm near Cambridge in 1936.

Earl Colin Meads, better known as "Pine Tree" on account of his size and strength, was an All Black for 15 years. He represented New Zealand 133 times from 1957 to 1971 and played 55 international matches.

At the age of seven Colin Meads moved with his family to a hill country farm near Te Kuiti. Here he quickly became used to the physical outdoor life, combining farm work with his early interest in rugby. He played in the first XV at Te Kuiti High School and later for King Country. In 1957 he was selected for an All Black tour of Australia. He soon became a regular fixture of the All Blacks, playing as lock on tours to Australia, South Africa, France and the British Isles. When not playing rugby he was a farmer and maintained his strength and fitness by such daily physical demands as scrub cutting, shearing and fencing.

As lock, Meads was inevitably in the thick of it on the field and suffered an impressive list of injuries in the line of duty. Most famous of all was the broken arm he received in an "incident" in South Africa in 1970. Nevertheless he played on, his arm in a protective leather brace.

Perhaps an early advocate of the "level playing field" approach, Colin Meads also had the distinction of being only the second player ever to be ordered off the field during a test match at Murrayfield in Scotland in 1967. Perhaps more than any other All Black in recent years, Colin Meads has attracted a large following of loyal fans. For them he is the archetypal New Zealander, a solid and reliable type who gets on the job without any fuss. In the days before rugby turned professional he played the game for the love of it, proud to represent his country. After hanging up his All Black jersey Colin Meads continued his contribution to the national game by becoming a coach and selector. He might also have had more time to tend to the demands of his King Country farm.

"Helping Hand"

Dogs have made a vital contribution to New Zealand's economy. They have been essential to our farmers, droving and mustering this country's large population of sheep and cattle.

Where would New Zealand be without its farm dogs? - the Heading dogs that gather stock, and the Huntaways that bark and drive stock? The answer is simple: our agriculture and social and technical progress would have been held back by at least a hundred years. Without the working dog, we could not have farmed the large areas of flat plain and steep hill country that make New Zealand unique as a pastoral nation.

The typical New Zealand working dog has evolved from border collies brought to this country by Scottish shepherds in the late 1800s. The skills displayed by these energetic farmhands soon led to the national institution of sheep-dog trials. The first was held at Hakataramea, South Canterbury in 1889. The dogs' ability to respond to commands and bail up sheep is a great source of fascination and amusement, particularly for overseas visitors.

Altogether New Zealand has some 600,000 dogs and about 200,000 of them work on farms. Dogs are essential on high country farms, but on many smaller properties they have been overtaken by four-wheel farm bikes.

One of New Zealand's most famous farm animals is the Dog from "Footrot Flats". This character was inspired by cartoonist Murray Ball's own dog, Finn, a short-haired border collie who died in 1998 at the age of 16.

"Good Mate"

Our farm dogs enabled sheep and cattle to be farmed and handled on the vast areas of hill country cleared of bush by a very small population of pioneers. Later on farm earnings flowed into the towns and built cities, laying the business foundation for today's prosperous society.

A hard day is a good day for a New Zealand working dog. A good working dog loves its job and will do the work of up to 10 people when gathering and moving stock. It never goes on strike, doesn't expect holidays and never asks for more wages. A farm dog is an athlete, often doing the equivalent of a marathon a day. At the end of a hard day all it asks for is a pat, a good well-balanced meal and a warm dry kennel.

New Zealand's farmers have benefited from their many hard-working and intelligent dogs. One particularly intelligent individual was Jack, a rough haired black and tan collie that lived in South Auckland in the 1930s. He was well known for his farming skills, opening gates, bringing tools out to the paddocks on command and feeding fowls by shaking grain from a box carried in his mouth. One of his most useful interests was seeking out and digging up unwanted dock weeds from cultivated paddocks. Jack was featured in the "New Zealand Herald" and was also the subject of a (small) book. When he died an Onehunga tannery kindly offered to cure the skin of this "celebrated dog" free of charge.

"Rugby for Boys, Basketball for Girls"

New Zealand is ideal for games, with a climate that allows the sports-minded to play outside all year round. As far as national sports are concerned there are two basic seasons: the cooler months when rugby and netball dominate and the warmer months when the nation is preoccupied with cricket and the beach.

Young New Zealanders have traditionally enjoyed a healthy mix of organised sport and informal activities. There was little choice during winter, with rugby for the boys and what used to be known as basketball for the girls. There were levels for players of all ages and abilities and presumably even some of this country's greatest All Blacks and Silver Ferns began at the lowest or "midget" grade. At primary level practice sessions and weekly inter-school games were often played during school hours. However, practice at secondary level usually took place after school, with games on Saturday mornings. The school rugby coach often needed deep pockets to safely mind his charges' spectacles, dental plates and other such expensive breakables.

During playtime and lunch hours New Zealand school children have enjoyed a large range of more informal games played with varying numbers of people. Some games, like knucklebones and hula-hoops in the 1950s, are no longer fashionable, while playing marbles was easier in the days when there were more bare clay surfaces.

Our Playground

For some games, such as "bullrush" and "tag", both the names and the rules enjoyed regional variations. A skipping rope was always popular and could be enjoyed solo or in groups, while four-square needed only a large ball and a small patch of concrete. For hopscotch a small flat item like an old boot-polish tin (Kiwi or Nugget) was ideal. And out in the country many young New Zealanders enjoyed their horses, frequently riding them to school.

Out of school, the nation's playground is the beach. As well as swimming, surfing or just splashing about in the waves, there is also the sand to enjoy. The country's extensive coastline provides further scope for impromptu games of cricket or touch (rugby) perhaps. But for the more curious there are usually rock pools to explore, while those inclined towards engineering might settle for building sandcastles or a dam against the incoming tide.

Kiwi Ingenuity

New Zealanders have long believed that they are blessed with a mysterious quality known as "kiwi ingenuity". This refers to an alleged ability to make do and invent things with limited resources. It involves varying amounts of cunning and economy, typically requiring a piece of no. 8 gauge fencing wire and what was known in pre-metric days as a "four-by-two" length of timber.

There is, of course, a sound basis to kiwi ingenuity. This country's early settlers - both Maori and European - all travelled great distances and had to adjust to their strange new homeland. Many were isolated in this corner of the South Pacific and it was simply a matter of "making do" or going without. From the mid 19th century the national economy depended on rural ingenuity extending the New Zealand imagination.

Down on the farm necessity was truly the mother of invention, with empty butter boxes and petrol tins being frequently reconfigured into other handy devices. This was obviously good training, for early 20th century New Zealand produced two of the most remarkable inventors of all. Some believe that South Canterbury farmer, Richard Pearse, flew his homemade aircraft even before the Wright Brothers took off. And it was a New Zealander, Ernest Rutherford, who was the pioneer of atomic physics. Appropriately, he began his career in a corrugated iron shed at the University of Canterbury.

One of New Zealand's more recent - and essential - inventions has been the electric fence. It was pioneered in the 1930s by Bill Gallagher of the Hamilton based Gallagher group, when he experimented with a device to stop his horse from scratching itself on the family car. Another celebrated New Zealand inventor was Mackenzie country sheep station owner, W. F. Hamilton, who among numerous other things developed the now famous jet boat in the 1950s for use in shallow rivers. In a similar vein, the late John Britten developed the revolutionary V1000 motorbike, now on prominent display at Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand.

Unique to New Zealand

Kiwis are flightless birds roughly the same size as chickens, but you won't find a Kentucky Fried Kiwi. Killing kiwis is naughty and illegal. The kiwi is protected and endangered. It is also New Zealand's national bird, beating several other talented birds to the title. Ah, the kiwi - the shy, nocturnal, plump, succulent, marinated... remember, no matter how tasty the bird looks, it's off-limits.

It's estimated the kiwi has been around for 30 million years - the past 200 years being the most torrid. The kiwi population is threatened by introduced animal predators and the clearance of native forest. Kiwis can be hard to find as they only come out at night, sleep approximately 20 hours out of 24 and are generally hiding in isolated forest areas. To get close to our famous kiwi can be very difficult unless you buy a ticket to visit our very own "Kiwi House" where you can see them very close up. Named after its shrill cry ("kee-wee") the kiwi lives underground, much like the elusive womble of Wimbledon Common.

As New Zealand's national emblem, the kiwi is found on money, stamps, coins, shoe polish, coats of arms, rugby league jerseys, but it isn't on the national flag and it doesn't get a mention in the national anthem.

The kiwi is as blind as a bat, it eats bugs and worms, refuses to bathe and never drinks a drop of water its entire life. Kiwis live in pairs and mate for life, which is up to 30 years. The female is bigger and dominant. It lays massive eggs that would make its distant relations the ostrich and emu proud. The Kiwi and ‘New Zealandness’ are inseparable.

"Kiwis" – It started in the trenches

New Zealanders have been ‘Kiwis' since the First World War when Australian soldiers coined the nickname. The name has stuck, especially when travelling overseas and in our sporting endeavours. Although New Zealand is often portrayed as a sports-obsessed nation, in truth only 95% of the population cares about sport.

There are other things which are common to all such as:
Never being more than three hours' drive from the sea.
Not being penalised for missing your ball in a game of pool.

Kiwis are famous for ingenuity, hard work and a reluctance to complain, show emotion or offer lavish praise. If a Kiwi won the Nobel Prize, fellow Kiwis would describe the triumph as "quite good." A hug would be considered excessive.

And while the Kiwi bird has been on the decline, Kiwi people are thriving. New Zealand has the fastest growing population of any developed nation, according to a United Nations Study. In the year 2000, there were 3.8 million Kiwis. By 2025 there will be 4.9 million.

A few Kiwis you may have heard of:

Edmund Hillary - mountain climber. Famous for conquering Mt Everest with Nepalese Sherpa, Tensing Norgay, despite it being very high indeed.

Ernest Rutherford - physicist. Famous for splitting the atom and pioneering nuclear science, only for his homeland to become nuclear free.

Kiri Te Kanawa - opera singer. Famous for wearing a dress louder than her angelic voice at Prince Charles and Lady Diana's royal wedding.

Sam Neill - actor. Famous for being chased by dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Jonah Lomu - rugby player. Famous for running over mainly Englishmen.

Tim and Neil Finn - musicians. Famous for the bands Split Enz, Crowded House and growing up 30km north of here.

Katherine Mansfield - novelist. Famous for writing books in France…

...Just to name a few.


Ngati Maniapoto
Nau mai Kake mai
Nau mai haere mai ki Te Rohe Potae o te Kingitanga
i roto o Ngati Maniapoto ki te Nehenehenui
Tenei kaupapa, na nga uri whakatupu i hanga i to raou whakaaro
ki o ratou Tupuna o mua

"Tena Koutou, Tena Koutou, Tena Koutou Katoa"

Greetings, greetings, greetings to all.

Welcome to Otorohanga and our area of New Zealand known as the King Country, traditional home of the Maniapoto people.

We invite you to visit and enjoy the hospitality and many places of interest in our area.

This display features the work of several local crafts people and artists. It highlights samples of some traditional Maori arts and cultural activities you may experience during your stay in New Zealand.

Once again we welcome you to Otorohanga, we hope you enjoy your visit here and wish you well for the rest of your travels.


All family groups proclaim and preserve their association to other groups through Whakapapa or genealogy. Experts are able to quote family relationships, as well as relationships to tribes and sub-tribes. At functions that adhere to Maori protocol, speakers will indicate their own and other relationships to those people gathered. Expert speakers are able to cite ancestry far back beyond the period when Maori settled in Aotearoa-New Zealand.


The hongi is the traditional greeting of the Maori people. The pressing of noses and the mingling of the breath between two people demonstrate unity. Sometimes it is appropriate for the foreheads to touch to indicate the sharing of thoughts and emotions. It is believed that the first press is a greeting to the other person sharing the hongi, a second press acknowledges ancestors and a third press honours life in this world.


Traditionally Maori used song as the means of recording events in their lives. Some waiata set down tribal history while others are love songs and lullabies. There are also laments and chants for those who have died. Waiata also record important names - for instance the stars, family names or place names.


The powhiri is a formal welcome on the marae. The tangata whenua (host people) and manuhiri (visitors) both have very strict roles to play in the powhiri. Usually the visitors wait beyond the marae entrance until they hear the karanga (a call to enter). The visitors, lead by the women, make their way across the marae towards the meeting house, while the women call back and forth. The visitors then move to one side and are seated with the men in the front. Those men who are speaking sit in the first row. After the formal speech finishes the visitors can move forward to greet the hosts with a handshake and hongi. Occasionally, for a very important visitor, there may be a wero (challenge) before the powhiri starts.


The poi is generally used by the women as an accessory or accompaniment to enhance the performance of the waiata and sometimes the haka. Traditionally the poi was used predominantly by men to strengthen their wrists for combat fighting. The poi displayed here have been made in the traditional manner using muka (flax fibre) for the inner filling, outer casing and woven cord. Because of the scarcity of the muka and the time involved in processing it, traditional poi are treasured.


Food cooked in a traditional earth oven. A shallow hole is dug in the ground, stones line the inside of the hole and a fire is kept burning for a long period to ensure the stones are heated enough to maintain the temperature required to cook the foods. Food is placed in hangi baskets with the meats on the bottom as this requires the most cooking. The vegetables are placed on top of the meats and the quick cooking seafood is on top. The baskets are then placed on the hot stones inside the hole and covered in a layer of moist cabbage leaves, wet cotton fabric, and sacks that ensure the necessary moisture and heat is retained for cooking. Finally soil is placed over the top to retain the heat and, after at least 3 hours of cooking, the food is ready for eating. This method of cooking food is traditional to Maori and provides an efficient method of catering for large numbers of people, who may gather to celebrate and honour special occasions and events.


Flax woven kits are items in constant use and they take many forms. As well as flax, the leaves of the ti kouka (cabbage tree) and the nikau palm were also used to weave kete. Today kete are used widely for everyday activities, decorative purposes and for holding special articles or treasures.


Traditional muka (fibre) weaving is shown in this Korowai. The Korowai can be made in various sizes. It is draped over the shoulders and fastened in front by a plaited cord. The Korowai is worn for important ceremonies and occasions and is a highly valued taonga (treasure). We pay tribute to the late Dame Rangimarie Hetet and her daughter, Diggerress Te Kanawa, well known master weavers from Maniapoto, who continued this ancient art and have shared their knowledge and skills with others.


Tukutuku are intricately woven panels often found lining the walls of the Wharenui (meeting house). These panels express ideas from Maori mythology, philosophy and history. The patterns displayed here are: Tumatakahuki (pattern either side) double/triple binding which ensures strength. Poutama (steps) has religious and educational connotations relating to levels of attainment. Roimata Toroa (albatross tears) denoting misadventure particularly to crops. Purapura Whetu (myriad of stars) relates to population and the peopling of a region.

More information about Maoritanga:

Maoritanga is Maori culture; a way of life and view of the world. The ancestors and all living things are descended from the gods, our mountains, rivers and lakes; this explains why the land is so important to Maori.

The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. The first article gave the Queen of England the right to make laws and the second article promised Maori full rights to their lands, forests and treasured possessions (and fisheries in the English version). The third article gave Maori all the rights and privileges of British subjects. Maori is an official language of NZ, although it is rare to hear it spoken outside the Maori community, except on ceremonial occasions. To preserve the language there is a network of Kohanga Reo, or ‘language nests’, preschools where children learn the Maori language and culture. There are also Kura Kaupapa, or Maori Immersion Schools, as well as bilingual units attached to many mainstream schools.

Maori culture was transmitted orally, through the telling of stories, song (waiata) and the reciting of whakapapa (genealogies). It was also represented in stylised carvings and woven panels that adorned wharenui (meeting houses).

The Haka is a challenge to the opposing group who may respond in a similar way. The words are chanted in a challenging way accompanied by arm actions and foot stamping. The All Black rugby team and many other sports teams have adopted the haka as a challenge to the opposing team before their game begins. There are many versions of the haka. Below is the version most commonly used by sporting teams:

Ka mate, ka mate
Ka ora, ka ora
Ka mate, ka mate
Ka ora, ka ora
Tenei te tangata puhuruhuru
Nana i tiki mai whakawhiti te ra
Upane, upane
Upane kaupane
Whiti te ra

Our Favourite Spread

Science came to the rescue of malnourished Europeans in the 19th century. Concentrated extracts of meat were developed, leading to such well known products as Oxo and Bovril. Alternatively, there was a yeast derivative, made by the Marmite Food Extract Company. It began in Staffordshire, England, in 1902 and took its name from marmite, a French pot used for making stew and gravy. As well as being promoted as a sandwich spread and a tasty additive for soups, stews and savoury dishes, Marmite was rich in newly discovered vitamins.

Marmite was sold in New Zealand in the early 1900s, imported in bulk from England and repackaged by the Sanitarium Health Food Company. When supplies were disrupted by two World Wars, Sanitarium was determined to begin producing Marmite of its own. This plan was finally realised in the late 1940s, but by then the company no longer had the New Zealand yeast extract market to itself. In 1923 an enterprising Australian merchant, Fred Walker, decided to provide Marmite with some competition. He developed a new product which he called Parwill, on the basis that if "Ma might", "Pa will". Not surprisingly, this punning approach didn't catch on. After a public competition Walker wisely renamed his product "Vegemite", now made by Kraft Foods Ltd.

Each year the Sanitarium factory at Papanui in Christchurch manufactures some 750 tonnes of Marmite - "the original yeast spread" - for the South Pacific. Of this, 600 tonnes is consumed in New Zealand.

An Acquired Taste?

Early jars of Marmite carried the quaint consumer warning that "too much spoils the flavour". Because of its concentrated formula, other countries such as the United States have been less enthusiastic about the product, finding it too salty and even likening it to "axle grease". However, Marmite remains popular in countries with historic links to Britain. In India, for example, consumers of the locally produced "super concentrated" product are advised to spread it thinly on "toast, sandwiches and chapattis". New Zealanders travelling abroad have also shown remarkable allegiance by taking the familiar Marmite from home rather than buying the English-made product.

We’re all familiar with today's Kiwi Music and our New Zealand musicians. But where did it start? What were the styles? What influenced the times, the songs and the music? The whole subject is really too large for this space, but let's have a look.

New Zealand music dates back to the Maori people, our nation’s earliest settlers, with their chants, Waiata, and musical wind instruments made of wood or bone.

New Zealand and its music have further changed and evolved over more than 170 years with the influences of early whalers and sealers, pioneer settlers, world wars, protests, fashions and, of course, England and the USA.

In recent years New Zealand artists have increasingly mixed popular international styles with Maori and Pacific Island influences. This has created a music style, which is uniquely New Zealand in flavour.

New Zealand also has a strong tradition of producing Kiwi rock bands: Split Enz and Crowded House - both formed by the talented Finn Brothers - are perhaps the most famous examples.

Scribe, Fat Freddy's Drop, Bic Runga and New Zealand comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, are internationally known, while songstress Hayley Westenra has made it big in New Zealand classical music. Kiri Te Kanawa is a world-famous NZ opera singer, who has helped young New Zealanders like baritone Jonathan Lemalu to achieve international success.

New Zealander Stan Walker won Australian Idol in 2009 and has since produced many top hits and two highly successful albums. Brooke Fraser's catchy song, "There’s Something in the Water" hit the charts worldwide and almost every rugby game is interspersed with snippets of The Exponents "Why Does Love Do This to Me?"

Pass the Pav!

Just as the kiwi is New Zealand's national bird, the pavlova is the national dessert. But along with champion racehorse, Phar Lap, and rock group, Split Enz, Australia would also like to claim the pavlova as its own. However, there is good reason to believe that the famous dessert was actually first whipped up in New Zealand.

Famous Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, visited New Zealand in 1926 during an Australasian tour. According to her biographer, whilst Pavlova was in Wellington, a hotel chef invented a dish inspired by her tutu, draped in green silk cabbage roses. The basic shape of the tutu was provided by a meringue case, while the froth of the skirt's net was suggested by whipped cream. To achieve the effect of the green roses the enterprising chef used slices of kiwifruit, then known as Chinese gooseberries. The result - the original pavlova - was described as a "brilliant simulation" of the dancer's personality.

The Great Cake Controversy

It seems that the Wellington chef who pioneered the pavlova did not publish his recipe. This has encouraged other claims and the debate has been further confused by two entirely different pavlova recipes, which appeared around 1927. One of these was for a moulded jelly with multicoloured layers. The other recipe referred to a number of small meringue cakes, which developed into the larger single pavlova as we now know it.

Australia's claim to the pavlova is much later, dating from 1934. When a Perth chef covered a meringue cake with cream and fruit his efforts were described as being "as light as Pavlova". Obviously, the Russian ballerina made a big impression on Australia during her visit nine years earlier.

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A Suitable Size of Land

The quarter-acre section was established in the early years of European settlement as a suitable size for a New Zealand home. It soon became a feature of this country's way of life, along with pavlova and six-o'clock (pub) closing.

A typical quarter-acre section had a street frontage of 66 feet (20.1m) - corresponding to the standard surveyor's measuring "chain" - and a length of 165 ft (50.3m). Because many early sections were carved out of thick bush, owners may have pitched a tent in a clearing until something more substantial could be built.

Immigrants from Britain were used to rows of terrace houses with little land attached. By comparison, New Zealand's quarter-acres allowed sizeable gaps between neighbouring houses. There was also room for a vegetable garden, a vital part of the domestic economy until the 1960s. Another useful feature of the quarter-acre section was that it had room for a septic tank to deal with toilet waste, before the days of the mains sewage system.

This standard-sized section came to represent the New Zealand dream - hence Austin Mitchell's description of this country in 1972 as "The Half-Gallon, Quarter Acre, Pavlova Paradise".

Our House

New Zealand in the mid 1960s was one of the best housed nations in the world with one dwelling for every four persons. The dream of home ownership could be realised by taking an advance on the family benefit, the weekly Government grant paid for dependent children. The typical house of the day was built of timber - a plentiful material and one suitable for a country prone to earthquakes. Such a house was weather boarded, on one level, of 1,000 sq. ft (93 sq. metres) and with three bedrooms and a corrugated iron roof.

The house was usually set back from the street, with a flower garden and a regularly mown lawn presenting a tidy image to the world. It was usually built at one side of the quarter-acre section with a concrete drive running down the other to the garage or car shed. The back section was the place for the more practical vege garden and fowl house and perhaps a tool shed for recreational tinkering and, of course, a kids’ hut or home cricket pitch. From the back door of the house a path led to a revolving clothesline.

The quarter-acre has become in cities and larger towns a thing of the past. While suburban sections have shrunk, fewer New Zealanders now have the time to maintain such large plots of land. As a result, vege gardens and fowl houses are no longer a regular feature of the New Zealand backyard.

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"Jock is the essence of the New Zealand farmer: honest, hard working and with a laid-back sense of humour that never deserts him.

He shares this with his wife, the children and, of course, the boy who works on the place. Shepherds, shearers, musterers and fencers enter into the spirit of life outside the town boundary and are periodically joined by stock agents, the Bank Manager, the local Council and the Minister of the Church. They all, sooner or later, get a word in.

His horse and dogs offer advice from time to time and there's been the odd gem from his sheep, cattle, deer, rabbits… pretty much anyone who has to live with him.

For the past 40 years this homespun commentary has enlivened the pages of "The New Zealand Farmer" and lives on in calendars, books and illustrations which have included everything from a School Certificate exam paper to an Inland Revenue Guide to farm taxation."

by David Henshaw

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Free Milk Every Morning

Young New Zealanders once lined up for a free bottle of milk at school every morning. This scheme was introduced in 1937 to help children who had become undernourished during the Depression. It was also enthusiastically supported by famous dramatist, George Bernard Shaw, when he visited this country in 1934. And so, for the next 30 years, school children sat down for their daily half-pint. Crates of bottles were carried into the classroom by official milk monitors, who were also responsible for collecting up the empties after the session. Occasionally, an older amber glass bottle would arrive with the morning delivery and prove an attraction for keen consumers.

School milk bottles in the 1950s had cardboard tops which had a small hole for the straw and were often put to further use. Lengths of colourful wool were wound tightly around a pair of these cardboard discs to produce a decorative pom-pom.

In the 1960s 3,500,000 gallons of milk was distributed to the schools of New Zealand each year, but the value of the scheme was now being questioned. There were mixed views on the matter; some felt it had become unnecessary and was a disruption to the class, while others claimed that a number of New Zealand children still came to school without an adequate breakfast. Nevertheless, in 1967 the scheme was abolished and so the country's milk monitors became redundant.

The Biggest Name in Butter

The cows of New Zealand have also produced the raw material for one of this country's best known and oldest trademarks. When Henry Reynolds emigrated here from Cornwall, England in the 1880s, he took up dairy farming in the Waikato. He churned his first butter in 1886 and gave it the name "Anchor", allegedly inspired by the tattoo worn by one of his workers. Reynolds later sold his business and it became part of the New Zealand Dairy Company. It exported dairy products to Britain and in 1924 introduced the first Anchor butter pack. By the 1960s Anchor was the biggest selling butter in that country. It remains Britain's leading brand today, continuing to fly the flag for the New Zealand dairy industry.

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Young New Zealanders in the 1950s looked forward - perhaps with some trepidation - to at least ten years of free (and compulsory) education. By way of gentle introduction, a child could enter kindergarten at the age of three and two years later move up to a primary school. This consisted of an infant department (Primers 1-4) Standards (1-4) and Forms 1 & 2 (which replaced the old Standards 5 & 6). As New Zealand's population boomed in the years following the Second World War, separate Intermediate Schools were built to take Forms 1 & 2. The next stage of the educational process was Secondary or High School (Forms 3-7), with the leaving age set at fifteen.

Perhaps the most obvious feature of New Zealand primary education was the typical classroom, an open space with a verandah and large folding doors. The idea was to combine the learning of the "Three Rs" with plenty of fresh air. However, in winter months pupils' thoughts were more likely to turn to the pot-belly stove in the corner of the room.

When it came to learning, the day often began with the chanting of basic multiplication tables. Reading was introduced by the "Janet and John" series, whose simple and repetitive prose was standard until the 1950s. As well as the regular "School Journal", another essential publication was the orange and black covered "Native Animals of New Zealand". This was usually found on the Nature Study table alongside stick insects, wetas and tadpoles held captive in old preserving jars.

When the bell went, pupils reached for their morning bottle of free milk or streamed outside for playtime. While their teachers enjoyed a relatively peaceful cup of tea, children took to the playground, perhaps to socialise or swing on the jungle gym. They may have played ‘four square', variations on ‘tag’ and ‘bull rush’, or informal games of rugby and basketball - now known as netball.

Generally, primary school children in the 1950s were not required to do homework. A much more serious threat was the strap, lurking menacingly in the teacher's desk. But perhaps the biggest worry was the School Dental Clinic, otherwise known as the "murder house" in the days of the agonisingly slow foot-powered treadle drill. Well-intentioned dental nurses did their best to distract and humour their young patients, perhaps using "snowmen" cunningly fashioned from cotton buds and dental floss.

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"Only 46 million" – Sheep farming in New Zealand

During the early days of New Zealand's European settlement, sheep were imported to provide meat and wool for clothing. The early pioneers lived "off the sheep's back". As farming developed, wool became one of New Zealand's first export earners. After the introduction of refrigeration in 1886 mutton and lamb were also exported.

New Zealanders are proud of their sheep, now down to 46 million from 70 million in the 1980s. They still produce quality meat and wool for world markets. New Zealand lamb is the world's best and is the benchmark for all our competitors. New Zealand strong wool (e.g. Romney) is in demand for knitting, clothing and carpets and superfine Merino produces the world's highest quality suitings.

Sheep have worked hard in New Zealand. They were the machines used by early pioneers to break in land from scrub and bush. Sheep were used to tread grass and clover seed into the warm ash after burning and along the way provided their own fertiliser. Sheep continue to help New Zealand prosper, although today's world markets prefer high quality lamb to wool.

"Dropping a stitch"

Sheep are usually run along with cattle on pastoral farms where their grazing patterns complement each other. Sheep graze the finer grasses, while cattle eat the longer, coarser pasture plants and weeds.

The average farm has about 1,500 ewes and 150 beef breeding cows run as a one-person unit, with no extra labour apart from shearing. Larger farms on hill country and high-country stations in the South Island carry from 8,000 to 20,000 breeding ewes.

Sheep also graze large areas of lowland pasture in association with mixed farming. A good example of this is on the Canterbury plains where they help build up fertility by grazing pastures before cropping.

When it comes to wool, it is claimed that in the 1960s New Zealanders were the largest users per head in the world, although this only accounted for about 3 per cent of the annual production of 1.25 million bales.

There is little doubt that much of this wool was used by the now departing craft of knitting. Knitting was once an activity of hugh popularity, that was passed on from mother to daughter; women sat on trams and buses able to simultaneously chat and knit without dropping a stitch. At home, if hands were ever idle, knitting took over and the basket with all the necessary equipment was always at hand. Perhaps it was parked behind the sofa to be picked up during evening relaxation to the accompaniment of the wireless or radiogram. And in addition to the knitting itself, there was also the darning to be done, the constant maintenance of the family's clothes.

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On Top of the World

Conqueror of Everest, Kiwi Hero: Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008)

New Zealand's most distinguished citizen and the first person to reach the top of the world's highest mountain, was born in Auckland on 20 July, 1919. Edmund Percival Hillary spent his early years at Tuakau, south of Auckland, where his father - a Gallipoli veteran - ran the local newspaper. The young Hillary went to Auckland Grammar School and it was a school skiing trip to Mount Ruapehu that first stimulated his interest in mountaineering.

In 1936 Hillary left school to become a beekeeper. Three years later, when he climbed his first mountain in the South Island, he was determined to become a mountaineer. He went climbing in the European Alps and the Himalayas and in 1953 was offered the chance to join an attempt on Mt. Everest by a British team led by John Hunt. Hillary's strength and experience made him ideally suited for the final assault on the summit, which he reached with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on 29 May, 1953. This successful ascent of the world's highest mountain coincided with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey and shortly after Hillary was knighted for his achievement.

From 1956 to 1958 Sir Edmund Hillary was involved in the Trans-Antarctic Expedition and was part of a group who were the first to drive vehicles to the South Pole. For the 2011 kilometre journey from Scott Base across the Ross Ice Shelf they travelled in modified versions of the Ferguson tractor, a familiar sight on the farms of New Zealand.

Hillary returned to the Himalayas in 1960. Among other things, this expedition included a search for the yeti, but the Abominable Snowman remained elusive. For health reasons Hillary now had to give up high-altitude climbing and so began to concentrate on the building of schools, hospitals and other facilities for the Sherpa people of Nepal.

In 1984 Hillary was appointed New Zealand High Commissioner for India, based in New Delhi. In 1989 he was among the first to receive the newly created Order of New Zealand, this country's most prestigious decoration and six years later Queen Elizabeth II awarded him the Order of the Garter, the highest order of knighthood. Our highest achiever, in all senses, Sir Edmund Hillary continued to represent the qualities which New Zealanders admire most - stamina, determination and quiet achievement.

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Starting the Day The Kiwi Way…

The Sanitarium Heath Food Company originated in Michigan, USA and has been practising its "Health is Wealth" maxim in New Zealand since 1898. Among its early imported products was Granose, a wheat flake biscuit marketed both as a breakfast cereal and an alternative to bread. But in the 1920s it faced competition when the Christchurch company, Grain Products Ltd, introduced another flake biscuit, which it named Weet-Bix. When Sanitarium bought Grain Products in 1930, the Weet-Bix brand became its own.

In its early days Weet-Bix was promoted as "Ideal for Every Meal", but New Zealanders quickly decided that the malted biscuits were best for breakfast. Weet-Bix went on to capture some 40 percent of the nation's breakfast cereal market and proved to be as versatile as it was popular. It could be eaten with hot or cold milk, depending on the time of year. As "the perfect winter breakfast" it had the added distinction of being chosen by Sir Edmund Hillary for both his Himalayan and Antarctic expeditions.

New Zealanders now consume a staggering 312,000,000 million Weet-Bix every year. If these biscuits were laid end to end they would stretch from Kaitaia to Bluff and then back to Wellington.

New Zealand's favourite breakfast cereal can also claim a geological connection. In honour of the flaked grains of wheat, mountaineers now refer to a certain type of loose shattered rock as "Weet-Bix."

Free Cards in Every Pack!

Weet-Bix's appeal has no doubt been enhanced by its "free full-colour" collectable cards included in every packet. This tradition began with "The Treasury of the Years", ten series each of 50 cards issued from 1941 to 1953. In the mid-1950s young male Weet-Bix consumers were particularly well catered for with such series as "The Evolution of Flight", "Sports and Racing Cars" and "Famous Ships in History". There were two cards in every 24-ounce packet and one in the 12-ounce size. Since then Sanitarium has continued to issue an average of two sets of cards and albums per year on subjects as diverse as conservation, Indonesia and the fun parks of the world.

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What We Ate:
‘Meat and Three Veg’

The first New Zealanders lived entirely off the rich resources of the land, sea and rivers. Then, beginning in the mid-1800s, a new wave of settlers from Europe introduced an entirely different diet, and one that would dominate our tables for the next century.

The 19th century New Zealander was likely to be used to hard physical labour, whether at home, on the farm or in the factory. Such exertion demanded hearty meals, typically "meat and three veg". Not surprisingly, this country inherited many of its traditions from Britain, including a solid if somewhat unimaginative approach to cooking. Our heavy economic dependence on the sheep extended to the table, typically served up as boiled or roast mutton. Alternatively, there was bacon and eggs and roast beef, whose essential ingredients were always close at hand, if not home-grown. And between meals there were endless morning and afternoon teas and suppers, all noted for their fresh buttered scones, sponge cakes and copious cups of tea.

After the Second World War, the kitchens of New Zealand began to enjoy all the benefits of electrical appliances. They soon had "fridges" and freezers to stock frozen foods, the new wonders of the age. Everything was now prepackaged for convenience. Once the friendly corner grocer had sliced cheese and bacon on the spot, but now it came already cut and sealed in plastic packs. For busy cooks, self-raising flour and cake mixes guaranteed perfect results with a lot less fuss. Another time-consuming kitchen ritual, the bottling and preserving of fruit, was also on the way out. When fruit trees in the back sections of New Zealand provided a bounty of produce, nothing was wasted. Fruit was cleaned and stoned and placed in Agee jars and boiled in syrup - using crystal sugar for best results - and put aside for dessert treats later in the year.

Boiled into Submission!

New Zealand cuisine may have reached its lowest point in the 1950s with the arrival of the pressure cooker, whose contents were likely to be boiled into submission. But there was help at hand, for new immigrants and service personnel returning home after the Second World War brought alternatives to our traditional diet. Delicatessen shops began to open, and New Zealanders were now able to dine out at restaurants. Back home, the arrival of the television set challenged the formality that once ruled the dinner table, and there was an increasing range of fast-food options for those who didn't want to cook. As the country became more urban and sedentary, it no longer needed the big meaty meals of the past. However, this is not to say it didn't occasionally hanker after the once obligatory pavlova, lamington or fully fledged roast dinner!

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