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Seeking Descendants’ Stories Meat Shipment

DATE: 17 January 2007
Where are they now?

Seeking Descendants’ Stories of the Pioneers of Historic Meat Shipment

One hundred and twenty five years ago on February 15 1882, the sailing ship, Dunedin set off from Port Chalmers in Otago.

Its cargo was sheep carcasses. They were frozen in a bold and innovative venture that changed the face of New Zealand meat exports forever. Today frozen meat exports contribute $5 billion annually to the country’s economy.

Ninety-eight days after it left port, on May 24, the Dunedin berthed in London where, it is reported, appreciative consumers ranged from the aristocracy through to members of the Cambridge Rowing team.

Among a range of events planned to commemorate the anniversary of this extraordinary feat, Meat & Wool New Zealand would like to hear from anyone who has any family connection with a person who made a contribution to the achievement.

“New Zealanders are proud of their forebears,” says Meat & Wool Chairman Jeff Grant.

“Many of them can trace their family back to the first pioneer ships to arrive in this country and tell stories of their courage, resilience and improvisation.

“We’re sure there are people out there with historic family anecdotes about their association with that first refrigerated meat shipment and we’d love to hear their stories, see any photos they might have or other memorabilia.”

Mr Grant says that already some marvellous stories have been uncovered; such as the tale of a note one of the lamb packers at Totara Estate slipped in with one of the carcasses.

“It asked that whoever should find the note and eat the meat, write back to say if they enjoyed it. Sure enough, the note was found and duly received a positive response.

“We’d love to hear more stories like that and share them with the rest of New Zealand on February 15, 2007, National Lamb Day.”

As part of National Lamb Day, Meat & Wool New Zealand is also contacting thousands of high profile Kiwis in New Zealand and around the world, encouraging them to mark the landmark anniversary by enjoying a lamb meal on that day.

“We can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to the pastoral pioneering efforts of all those associated with the Dunedin’s memorable accomplishment than New Zealanders everywhere raising a fork of New Zealand lamb and saying ‘some things don’t change’.”

If you have any stories about forebears involved in any way with the extraordinary achievement 125 years ago, please contact Meat & Wool Communications Manager Diana Marriott on 04 474 0847(w) 027 600 9493(mob).

“We would love to tell as many stories about the great kiwi individuals who did their part in making this unforgettable milestone,” Mr Grant said.


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