Celebration events are being held in London and Oamaru tomorrow to mark National Lamb Day, the 140th anniversary of the first ever shipment of frozen New Zealand lamb arriving in the United Kingdom and the centenary of the New Zealand Meat Board (NZMB).
Beef + Lamb New Zealand and NZMB chair Andrew Morrison and His Excellency Bede Corry, New Zealand High Commissioner to the UK, will speak at the celebration at Butcher’s Hall, home of the Worshipful Company of Butchers in London.
The event, which will be attended by representatives of major UK lamb customers, will feature a welcome and performance by Ngāti Rānana London Māori Club, and a New Zealand lamb barbecue.
B+LNZ will mark the anniversaries with a dinner at Oamaru’s Loan and Mercantile Building.
Speakers include the former owner of Totara Estate George Berry.
The estate, south of Oamaru, was where the original shipment of lamb was processed before it left Port Chalmers for London aboard the vessel Dunedin on February 15, 1882.
Meat Industry Association chief executive Sirma Karapeeva and NZMB director and B+LNZ central South Island farmer director Nicky Hyslop will also give speeches.
Morrison says the National Lamb Day anniversary was particularly momentous, given the NZMB is also celebrating its centenary this year.
The board’s role as a foundation stone of the successful export industry is being recognised with the publication of Meeting Change, a new book outlining the organisation’s history.
“The meat board was established in 1922 and while its role has evolved, the board now oversees $2.3 billion of red meat exports to the quota markets of the European Union, United Kingdom and United States, financial reserves on behalf of the red meat sector and drives investment in industry good activities such as genetics.
B+LNZ and NZMB chief executive Sam McIvor says the event in the UK is a great opportunity to highlight the innovation and successes of the red meat sector.
“New Zealand farmers are today as rightly proud of the high quality of their naturally-raised lamb as their predecessors were in 1882. That first shipment was the genesis of New Zealand’s world-renowned lamb industry.
“During 2020-21, New Zealand exported more than 406,000 tonnes of sheepmeat, valued at $3.86 billion, to a total of 87 countries. The sector has also made exceptional productivity gains since the 1990s. Sheep numbers have dropped but lamb export volumes have increased and greenhouse gas emissions reduced by over 30% .
At the Oamaru event, Berry, who with his wife Carol,owned the Totara Estate home farm for 50 years, will outline the story of the beginnings of the meat export trade, including the pioneering role of Thomas Brydone, superintendent of the New Zealand and Australia Land Co.
Totara Estate is now owned by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and is a Tohu Whenua heritage site – a location that has shaped Aotearoa New Zealand.
Heritage New Zealand is offering a complimentary voucher for free entry to the estate for every person attending the National Lamb Day event in Oamaru.