Shipment company

Event marking the first shipment of New Zealand lamb to the UK

A celebration is being held to mark the arrival of the first shipment of frozen lamb from New Zealand to the UK 140 years ago.

The Beef + Lamb New Zealand dinner will take place on May 24 – National Lamb Day – at Oamaru’s Loan and Mercantile building.

It was an opportunity to reflect on the important contribution of the red meat sector to the country’s economy, said Rebecca Nind, extension manager for Beef + Lamb Central South Island.

“New Zealand’s red meat sector exports hit $10 billion in 2021 despite Covid-19 disruptions and it employs over 90,000 Kiwis,” Ms Nind said.

The initial shipment was processed at Totara Estate, south of Oamaru. He left Port Chalmers for London, on board the ship Dunedin, on February 15, 1882.

A mini-symposium organized by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga for February, to celebrate the departure from port, had been thwarted due to Covid-19. The May date signified when the shipment arrived safely at its destination.

“This is a crucial milestone that founded New Zealand’s world-renowned lamb industry and launched our other food exports,” she said.

Although this celebration was no substitute for the mini-symposium, when Beef + Lamb approached Heritage New Zealand to participate in the Lamb Day event, they “jumped at the chance”.

”Heritage New Zealand are very kindly offering a free voucher for free entry to Totara Estate to anyone attending our National Lamb Day event – which will be a fantastic way for our sheep and beef community to learn about the history of our first frozen expedition. Totara Estate was also opening on May 23 and 24, especially for dinner attendees.”

Oamaru’s retired lawyer George Berry, who owned the family farm of Totara Estate for 50 years with his wife Carol, would be a guest speaker at the dinner, sharing his knowledge of Thomas Brydone and the early days of the export trade of meat.

Other speakers include Sirma Karapeeva, chief executive of the Meat Industry Association, and Nicky Hyslop, director of the New Zealand Meat Board and director of Beef + Lamb Central South Island.

Despite the uncertainty over Covid-19, it had been an aspiration of the Beef + Lamb Central South Island Farmers Council for over a year to mark the milestone, she said.

“Since things are starting to look a bit more positive for face-to-face events, the planning started about three months ago,” Miss Nind said.

Four new Beef + Lamb Ambassador Chefs, Cameron Davies from The Fat Duck in Te Anau, Andrew May from Amayjen in Palmerston North, MacLean Fraser from Artisan at the Bolton Hotel in Wellington and BJ Sebastian from Mudbrick Vineyard on Waiheke Island, will also be invited.

Lamb would definitely be on the menu.

The evening was also linked to the New Zealand Meat Board celebrating its centenary.

“So we’re going to celebrate that too and highlight some of the key milestones that got us to where we are today.”

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– By Ashley Smith