Celebrating Totara Estate this National Lamb Day

The announcement of National Lamb Day is a thrill for the team at Totara Estate; the home of Aotearoa New Zealand's first international shipment of sheep and frozen meat and one of our Tohu Whenua sites in the Otago region.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand and AgProud are leading the promotion for National Lamb Day, that is being launched at the Southern Field Days this week.

Celebrated on February 15th, National Lamb Day is the anniversary of the day the ship Dunedin left Port Chalmers for London in 1882 carrying the first shipment of sheep and frozen meat (4,311 sheep and 598 carcasses), that were farmed at Totara Estate, from Aotearoa New Zealand to England (a 98 day journey to the Smithfield Market). 


The Dunedin at Port Chalmers with Captain Whitson (inset).


The importance of refrigeration to our country was best encapsulated by the then governor-general Sir David Beattie at the Totara Estate centenary where he said, “in the long run, refrigeration brought prosperity.  It helped to pay for New Zealand as we have known it, for our social order, our way of life, our security.  All this happened because people of vision saw possibilities and made them work”.  By 1892, 10 years after the Dunedin’s first voyage, 21 freezing works were in operation, exporting 2million sheep and lamb carcasses worth more than £1 million a year.

Totara Estate was established in the 1850’s and known for its sheep, cattle and grain. Today, visitors to Totara Estate can wander through the men’s quarters, stables, granary, cookhouse and slaughterhouse, where displays recollect farm and domestic life on the estate during Victorian times. You can join in with farm activities, enjoy freshly baked scones, feed the sheep, and play old-fashioned games. We highly recommend climbing Sebastopol Hill to the base of the tall monument in memory of Superintendent of the New Zealand Australia Land Company, Thomas Brydone. A moment to truly soak in history where it happened.

Keen to learn more? Click here.

- Written by Andrew Coleman, Tohu Whenua Governance Group Chair + revised by Jenny Mitchell, Tohu Whenua Marketing and Communications Manager

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