In a mouthwatering tribute to New Zealand's rich culinary history and the tireless efforts of its producers, mark your calendars for the much-anticipated National Lamb Day on February 15 next year.
This special day holds significant historical value, commemorating the departure of the Dunedin from Port Chalmers in 1882, laden with the inaugural shipment of frozen lamb destined for London. This pivotal journey marked the inception of New Zealand's robust food and fibre industry, evolving into the global powerhouse we know today.
Ag Proud NZ, at the forefront of reshaping National Lamb Day, is injecting an air of celebration into the event.
Chair Jon Pemberton emphasises the day's festive spirit to REX host Dom George.
"We're going to try and turn this into something that everyone looks forward to as an annual event," he says.
"We are building a day, not a brand … we want to look back in ten years time and go 'heck yeah, this is pretty awesome', something that started to try and bring some appreciation for what we do in this great nation."
Pemberton added that part of the celebration is recognising the impact that the first shipment had on the future of New Zealand and the rural industries it is known for.
"I think everyone in New Zealand, on reflection, probably has to appreciate what that shipment meant to New Zealand as a whole with the economy linking up to the world."
Traditionally celebrated on May 24th, to commemorate the day the first shipment landed in London, Ag Proud decided to rethink it to fit a day more conducive to BBQ and outdoor celebration.
The Rock radio station is gearing up to play a pivotal role in the day's festivities, urging its listeners to participate in a nationwide feast by grilling up delectable lamb. Nick Fisher, Head of Rural at Mediaworks, expresses his enthusiasm.
"Partnering with National Lamb Day is a perfect match for The Rock. What's better than rallying Kiwis to light up their barbecues and enjoy a succulent lamb chop?" he says.
We're cooking up some exciting plans, so keep your dials tuned to The Rock for more on how you can be part of this extraordinary day."
Beef + Lamb New Zealand is throwing its support behind Ag Proud and the revamped National Lamb Day. CEO Kit Arkwright expresses delight in contributing to the establishment of an annual celebration.
"While it may say lamb in the title, make no mistake, we hope this day can become an enduring yearly celebration of all New Zealand food. It is our hope that whether you’re producing it or simply love eating it, you can take a moment to appreciate how delicious New Zealand food really is."
For those eager to be at the epicentre of the celebrations, the Southern Fieldays at Waimumu, taking place from February 14 to 16, is an unmissable opportunity. Attendees can immerse themselves in the spirit of National Lamb Day, creating lasting memories and indulging in the best of New Zealand's culinary offerings.
Wherever you find yourself on February 15, be sure to join in this grand celebration of New Zealand's national heritage and savour the flavours that define the Kiwi palate. National Lamb Day is not just about lamb; it's about honouring a legacy, celebrating community, and appreciating the delicious bounty that is New Zealand food. So, fire up those barbecues and let the festivities begin!
Listen to the full chat between Jon Pemberton and Dominic George above.