V.E.2. - Australia and New
and New Zealand are Pacific Rim countries situated on the southwestern
edge of that vast ocean. But although Australia has been peopled
for at least 50,000 years (some now say 70,000), and New Zealand
for just over 1,000, the dominant foodways of both have been shaped
over just the last 200 years since the beginning of British
settlement in Australia in 1788. The indigenous people, the Aborigine
in Australia and the Maori in New Zealand, are now minorities in
their own lands (Aborigines comprise less than 2 percent of Australias
population and Maori about 15 percent of New Zealands), and
the foods and beverages they consume have been markedly influenced
by food and drink of British origin. Indeed, from a contemporary
perspective, food and drink in Australia and New Zealand
the lands "down under" predominantly derive from
the strong British heritage.
this chapter, the environments of Australia and New Zealand are
briefly described, not only because they are notably unique but
also because they were so amenable to "ecological imperialism"
(Crosby 1978). The food systems of the indigenous peoples, although
now vastly altered, are also outlined, but the bulk of the chapter
is devoted to the processes that produced contemporary patterns
of food and drink consumption among both the immigrants and the
of its transitional position between the low and middle latitudes,
about 40 percent of Australia is located within the tropics. However,
the southwestern and southeastern littoral zones lie within the
midlatitudes and have temperature and rainfall regimes somewhat
similar to those of western and Mediterranean Europe and, consequently,
have proven conducive to the naturalization of European flora and
fauna. The continent is an ancient and stable one. Large parts of
it have an aspect of sameness, with almost monotonous expanses of
flat land and sweeping vistas (McKnight 1995), and only in the Eastern
Highlands is there great topographical variety.
two features stand out: aridity and tropicality. Central and western
Australia are arid, and well over half of the continent receives
less than 15 inches of rainfall a year. By contrast, northern Australia
(away from the east coast) has a monsoonlike climate, which brings
abundant moisture between November and March, followed by a seven-
or eight-month dry season. The northeastern coast is humid and hot,
but the southeast has true midlatitude conditions with adequate
precipitation, although the summers are hotter than in comparable
latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. The southwest enjoys a subtropical
dry-summer/wet-winter situation a "Mediterranean-type"
flora and fauna that developed in Australia and provided the subsistence
for its indigenous people are unique, primarily because of nearly
100 million years of isolation, during which the present biota evolved
and diversified without interference from immigrant species. About
80 percent of Australias 25,000 species of plants are endemic,
with two genera, the eucalypts or "gums" (Eucalypt
spp.) and the acacias or "wattles" (Acacia spp.)
overwhelmingly dominant. Furthermore, much Australian flora exhibits
pronounced xerophytic (drought-resistant) characteristics. Only
over the last few million years has there been a limited exchange
of biota between Australia and (the biotically rich) Southeast Asia.
In the past 200 years, the introduction of new species, mostly of
European origin, has dramatically impacted the landscapes, especially
of temperate Australia.
assemblage of terrestrial animal life is also unique. The more familiar
placental animal groups are absent, their place being taken by marsupials,
the majority of which are herbivores, including the macropods (kangaroos
and wallabies, rat kangaroos, wombats, phalangers, "possums,"
and koala). There are also a number of carnivorous marsupials ("mice,"
"moles," "cats," and "devils") and
a group of numbats (anteaters), as well as omnivorous marsupials
called bandicoots. Additionally, Australia has two monotremes (egg-laying
mammals), the duck-billed platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)
and the spiny anteater (Tachyglossus aculeatus). Placental
mammals are recent arrivals, which until the introduction of European
species after 1788 were mostly rats, mice, and bats from Southeast
Asia. Australia also has a wide variety of reptilian fauna, an exceedingly
varied and singular avifauna, and abundant insects and arthropods
but limited amphibian and freshwater fish life.
contrast to Australia, New Zealand is characterized by sloping land,
true midlatitude climates, and dense vegetation. It is located along
the "Pacific Rim of Fire," and vulcanism is evident in
the North Island; alpine mountains dominate parts of the South Island.
Everywhere else, hill country and small valley plains dominate,
except in the eastern part of the South Island where the Canterbury
Plain, New Zealands largest lowland, is located.
the climate can be characterized as "marine west coast,"
dominated by air from the oceans, especially from the west. Some
parts of the east (leeward) side of major mountains are relatively
dry, but in most of the country, the precipitation averages between
30 and 60 inches annually, with mountain regions receiving more.
Temperatures are moderate (50° F to 80° F in summer and
30° F to 70° F in winter), again except for the mountains.
to human occupation, the islands were heavily forested, with more
than 75 percent of the total area covered with what the early British
settlers called "bush." Much of this was actually a sort
of temperate rain forest, which had evolved in relative isolation
under unstable (volcanic and glacial) environmental conditions.
The fauna inhabiting this environment was conspicuous by the lack
of land mammals (other than a species of bat) and was dominated
by bird life, a distinctive feature of which was the relatively
high degree of flightlessness. The kiwi, New Zealands national
emblem, shares this characteristic, along with a variety of rails,
woodhens, and other species.
most notable nonflying birds were the two dozen species of moa
ostrichlike birds, now extinct, some of which were very large. Various
types of waterfowl, parrots, and innumerable "bush birds,"
large and small, were also present in abundance, along with some
species of lizards, but there were no amphibians save for a few
species of frogs. A rich marine-mammal population included fur seals,
sea lions, leopard seals, elephant seals, dolphins, and many species
of whales, as well as an abundance of fish and mollusks.
unique and remote Australian environment provided a home for the
Australian Aborigines, who comprised a distinctive society of hunters,
gatherers, and fishers. Arriving from what is now Southeast Asia
possibly as many as 70,000 years ago, over the subsequent millennia
they spread across and occupied all parts of the continent at varying
densities, depending on local environmental conditions. Mostly they
led a seminomadic existence, but their movements were not helter-skelter
(Davis and Prescott 1992). It is thought that there may have been
from 500 to 600 tribes or tribelets, with each recognizing the territoriality
each tribe there were usually several clans of a few dozen people
each. Although there is no evidence of formal agriculture, the gathering
and distribution of seed, the management of natural vegetation by
fire, and the rudimentary cultivation of yams (Dioscorea
spp.) in certain areas indicate some degree of plant husbandry.
There were no domesticated animals except the dog. The total population
of Aborigines at the time of European contact is not known. The
most widely accepted estimate is about 300,000, although some authorities
place the number as high as 1.5 million (McKnight 1995). Geographic
distribution, density, and mobility were closely related to the
availability of food, water, and other resources (Berndt and Berndt
Aboriginal languages had special terms for vegetable foods, as distinct
from terms for the flesh of animals, birds, reptiles, fish, mollusks,
and insects. Generally, foods from vegetable sources fell into three
main categories: roots and tubers, fruits, and seeds (although some
plants produced more than one type of food item, and, in a few instances,
it was the pith of the plant that was consumed). There were considerable
differences in the importance of various types of plant foods between
ecological zones. In the vast desert and semiarid areas, Aborigines
utilized between 60 and 100 edible species of plants (Latz and Griffin
1978; Peterson 1978). However, this extensive list could be reduced
to about a dozen staples. (A staple is a plant species that singly
or in combination with another accounts for at least 50 percent
of the diet during the period it is consumed.)
staples were the roots of various species of Ipomoea (convolvulus),
Vigna lancelota, and Portulaca oleracea ("pigweed");
the fruits of Solanum (for example, the "bush tomato"),
Ficus, and Santalum (the "quandong") species;
and Leichardtia australis (the "bush banana").
Other principal staples were the seeds of various Acacia
species ("wattles"); grasses, such as those of the genus
Panicum; and herbs, such as Rhyncharrhena linearis
(the "bush bean") (Peterson 1978; Palmer and Brady 1991).
It is estimated that plants provided some 70 to 80 percent of the
diet (in terms of bulk) consumed by desert Aborigines (Gould 1969).
the more humid southeast, about 140 species of plants were eaten
(Flood 1980). These included the roots and tubers of various lilies
(such as Aguillaria minus, the "vanilla lily");
at least 20 species of terrestrial orchids (for example, Gastrodia
sesamoides, the "potato orchid"); bulrushes (Typha
orientalis and Typha domingensis); and the bracken fern
(Pteridium esculentum). Also consumed were the roots and
tubers of various dandelionlike plants, including the "yam
daisy" (Micoseris scapigera), the "native carrot"
(Geranium solanderi), and the "Australian carrot"
(Daucus glochidiatus). Seasonal fruits, such as the "native
cherry" (Exocarpus cuppressiformis), "native raspberries"
(Rubus triphyllus), currants (Coprosma quadrifida),
and the "kangaroo apple" (Solanum linearifolium),
entered the diet. The pith of tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica
and Cyathea spp.) was also consumed. More plant foods were
eaten in the coastal regions of the southeast than in the highlands,
but on the plains of the eastern interior, grass seed, especially
the native millet (Panicum decompositum), was the staple
the tropical north, there were also a large number of plant foods.
One study has identified 47 species of root crops and 49 of fruit
or seed used by Aborigines (Crawford 1982), although the staples
varied between coastal regions and river valleys and the interior
(Turner 1974; Levitt 1981). Among the roots and tubers eaten, various
yam species (for example, Dioscorea transversa, the "long
yam," and Dioscorea bulbifera, the "round yam")
were the most important, but the tubers of various convolvulus species
(Ipomoea spp.), lilies (for example, the "blue water
lily," Nymphaea gigantica), the "swamp fern"
(Blechnum indicum), and the "wild kapok" (Cochlospermum
gregorii) were also consumed.
from numerous trees, including various Acacia species (Levitt
1981), as well as seeds from some species of Sorghum were
consumed in the north, along with a large number of nuts
from the Zamia palm (Cycas angulata), the Pandanus (Pandanus
spiralis), and the "nut tree" (Terminalia grandiflora).
Fruits included several species of Ficus, the "jungle
plum" (Buchaninia arborescens), the "native gooseberry"
(Physalis minima), the "big green plum" (Planchonella
pohlmaniana), the red "wild apple" (Syzygium suborbiculare),
and the "wild prune" (Pouteria sericea) (Davis
and Prescott 1992).
variation also existed in the types of flesh eaten. Snakes and lizards,
especially two species of "monitor" lizard or goanna (Varunus
varius and Varunus giganteus), were commonly consumed,
as were a number of small marsupials and rodents (Peterson 1978;
Flood 1980). In wetter areas, "possums" (phalangers) were
frequently a part of the diet (either the "brushtail possum,"
Trichosurus vulpecula, or the "mountain possum,"
Trichosurus canicus), along with various gliders (for example,
the "squirrel glider," Petaurus norfolcensis, and
the "greater glider," Schoinobates volans), the
koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), and various types of "flying
foxes" (Pteropus spp.).
(Perameles spp.) and other marsupial "rats" and
"mice" (for example, Antechinus spp. and Sminthopsis
spp.) served as food, as did rodents of various types (for example,
the "broad-toothed rat," Mastocomys fuscus, and
the "bush rat," Rattus fuscipes). In addition,
larger marsupials contributed to the human diet, although in arid
and semiarid areas they were relatively limited, and even in wetter
areas were problematic to hunt, requiring cooperative ventures that
involved considerable numbers of hunters. The latter generally used
fire (Peterson 1978), but in the New England tablelands, large permanent
nets were employed (Flood 1980). The red kangaroo (Macropus rufus),
the "Euro" (Macropus robustus), and the gray kangaroo
(Macropus fuliginosus), as well as numerous wallaby species
(for example, the "red-necked wallaby," Macropus rufogriseus)
were all hunted. In the wetter areas, wombats (Vombatus ursinus)
became important dietary items.
has been estimated that in coastal and riverine regions, fish, shellfish,
and crustaceans made up perhaps as much as 40 percent of the diet
(Flood 1980). In the southeast, fish caught by line, net,
trap, or spear included mullet (mainly Mugil cephalus),
snapper (Chrysophrys auratus and Trachichthodes affinus),
and various types of wrasses (for example, parrot fish and red cod,
Pseudolabrus spp.). Such shellfish as the pipi (Paphies
australis), cockles (Chione stutchburyi), mussels (Perna
canaliculus and Mytilus edulis), the catseye (Lunella
smaragda), and the mudsnail (Amphibda crenata) were very
important food items, as were crayfish (Jassus spp.), gathered
along rocky shorelines.
the coastal areas of the tropical north, a diversity of marine resources
was enjoyed. Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) were hunted
and their eggs gathered. The dugong (Dugong dugon), a herbivorous
marine mammal, was another valuable source of animal protein, especially
in the Torres Strait region and off the coasts of Arnhem Land (Turner
1974). There is no question, however, that in the coastal regions
of the north, where they were obtainable throughout the year, fish
were the staple food.
marine resources that made important contributions to the diet in
some areas included freshwater fish, shellfish, and crustaceans.
In the watershed of the Murray-Murrumbidgee system (Flood 1980),
the Murray cod (Maccullochella macquariensis), the "trout
cod" (Maccullochella mitchelli), the silver perch (Bidyanus
bidyanus), crayfish, mussels, and the platypus (Ornithorhynchus
anatinus) were captured and consumed. In the far north during
the monsoon, the barramundi (Lates calcarifer), a large,
tasty fish, was hunted with spears across the inundated floodplains
(Davis and Prescott 1992). Rivers flowing to the Tasman Sea throughout
the southeast of the continent contained eels (Anguilla spp.).
constituted an important source of food, although in very dry areas
they were probably only substantial food items following the infrequent
heavy rains (Frith 1978). On the more humid plains of the north,
east, and southwest, emu (Dromiceius novae-hollandie) were
plentiful and available throughout the year, but they were difficult
to catch (Flood 1980). Ducks, such as the "mountain duck"
Tadorna tadornoides of the southeast, were
abundant in swamps and lagoons and along the rivers, as were black
swans (Cygnis atratus) and a variety of other waterfowl.
Wild turkeys (the Australian bustard, Eupodotis australis)
were another excellent source of food on the open plains, and smaller
birds were probably an important source of protein because they
could be hit with stones relatively easily (Flood 1980). Eggs also
provided food and, in some places, were seasonally very important.
For example, in the Daly River country, just south of Darwin, the
goose-egg season could be counted on for an abundant harvest (Berndt
and Berndt 1988).
contributions to the diet were made by various types of insects,
with perhaps the most widely utilized the larvae of various moths,
collectively called "witchetty grubs" (Peterson 1978).
Among these, probably the most important were the larvae of the
Cossidae family, especially Xyleutes lencomochla, which feed
on the roots of certain acacias. In the southeast, especially in
the granite peaks of the highlands, another moth, the bogong (Agrotis
infusa), was important. During the spring and early summer,
these moths migrated to the mountains, where they occupied fissures,
clefts, and caves in summit rocks and could be collected and eaten
in vast numbers (Flood 1980).
primary beverage of the Aborigines appears to have been water. It
does not seem that there were any intoxicating beverages, although
in some areas, plants (for example, wild honeysuckle and pandanus
fruit), honey, and such insects as crushed green ants were mixed
with water (Massola 1971). In the more tropical parts of the continent,
the Aborigines chewed the leaves of three plants (Nicotiana gossei,
Nicotiana excelsior, and Duboisia hopwoodi) (Berndt and
Berndt 1988), and on the north coast, tobacco was introduced by
Makassan traders sometime after the sixteenth century (Berndt and
seasonal distribution of edible plants and the movements of fish
and animals imposed seasonal patterns of diet, as well as patterns
of movement over territories (Crawford 1982). Any single Aborigine
territory encompassed a variety of ecological systems and, thus,
was capable of producing a variety of food supplies throughout the
general, during the dry season (the winter in the north and the
summer in the southwest), the Aborigines lived in the river valleys,
and those in the Kimberleys, for example, started exploiting the
first of the roots reaching maturity when the rains ceased around
April or May (Crawford 1982). By June and July, they were digging
up root plants in the alluvium along the banks of creeks and rivers,
and at this time, they began burning spinifex and cane-grass to
stimulate the regrowth that attracted kangaroos. Water lily tubers
were harvested in August and September when water levels were low,
and as the weather became hotter, ephemeral pools were poisoned
the rains came in December, the camps were moved onto higher ground,
although fruits and seeds were still gathered in the valleys. In
the rich coastal areas of the southeast, seasonal movement was less
than that elsewhere, but it did involve getting food from the bush
during the winter and from the rivers and coasts during the summer
(McBryde 1974). People in the highlands and tablelands had a more
nomadic existence, moving away from the higher land in the winter.
Tribal territories were generally much smaller in the humid areas
than in semiarid and desert areas.
from knowing the right season, the right times for certain foods,
and the right places to find them, obtaining them involved the use
of implements and tools (Berndt and Berndt 1988). For plant foods,
gathered almost exclusively by women, the most important tool was
the digging stick. Men knew how to interpret the spoors of various
creatures and to decoy animals and birds, and they had to be adept
at spear throwing. Fire was commonly used in both hunting and food
gathering (Latz and Griffin 1978). People were conscious of the
abundance of food plants after burning but attributed this phenomenon
to associated ceremonies performed to increase rain and food. The
effect of frequent burning was to produce a series of small patches
at different stages of recovery from fire that sustained
different plant and animal communities.
practices were fairly rudimentary. Some fruits and tubers required
no preparation and were usually eaten when and where they were found.
Most roots, however, were cooked for some minutes in hot ashes or
sand. The more fibrous roots were pulverized, and bitter or poisonous
tubers were sliced, soaked, and baked, often several times (Crawford
1982). Grass seed was crushed in a stone mortar and mixed with water,
with the resultant "dough" baked in hot ashes (Massola
1971). Small animals were cooked in hot ashes, and larger ones in
earth ovens. Sometimes foods were mixed to improve their flavors
and to make them more palatable; additives included gums from acacia
trees, water sweetened with honey, and crushed green ants (Crawford
first humans to settle in New Zealand (who came to be called Maori
in the early nineteenth century) were Polynesians who arrived between
1,000 and 2,000 years ago (Davidson 1984). The precise dates are
unknown, but there is no hard evidence of settlement before A.D.
800, and recently, dates of A.D. 1000 to 1200 have been suggested
(Anderson 1989). Like the eastern Polynesian societies from whence
they came, Maori obtained their food by gardening, raising domestic
animals, hunting (particularly fowling), fishing and shellfish gathering,
and gathering uncultivated and semicultivated plants (see Nancy
Davis Lewis, chapter V.E.3.). However, in this temperate, midlatitude
land, gardening (as practiced elsewhere in Polynesia) was at best
marginal and at worst impossible. Indeed, there is now considerable
evidence to suggest that even in regions most amenable to horticulture,
gardens may have contributed only about 50 percent of the means
of subsistence (Jones 1995). Thus, the food quest in some communities
can truly be described as "hunting-and-gathering."
aspects of Maori foraging and farming have dominated discussions
of prehistoric subsistence (Davidson 1984). Hunting for moa
has captured both popular and scientific interest for more than
a century. But more recently, scholars have been equally impressed
by the Maori achievement of adapting the sweet potato or kumara
(Ipomoea batatas) to an annual cycle in a temperate climate.
Moreover, it has been recognized that Maori moa hunting was merely
one aspect of more general hunting activities, and that the use
of other plants, particularly the bracken-fern root, or aruhe,
also constituted very important adaptations in some areas (Young
the range of tropical crops that the Polynesian settlers must have
tried to introduce, only six species survived until early European
times: the sweet potato, taro (Colocasia esculenta), yam
or uhi (Dioscorea alata and Dioscorea esculenta),
the "bottle gourd" or hue (Lagenaria siceraria),
the "paper mulberry" or aute (Broussonetia papyrifera),
and a species of "cabbage tree" or ti (Cordyline terminalis).
In 1769, Captain James Cook and his companions identified all six,
but soon thereafter the yam and the paper mulberry seem to have
died out (Davidson 1984).
three main cultivated food plants were sweet potatoes, taro, and
the bottle gourd, of which sweet potatoes were by far the most important.
Indeed, the whole question of the introduction of horticulture in
New Zealand has been bedeviled by controversy, which has centered
on the sweet potato, because to grow it in New Zealand required
both its adaptation to new climatic conditions and the protection
of the plant and its fruits from extremes of temperature and heavy
winter rains. The Maori developed an array of pits in which to store
tubers a departure from methods used elsewhere in Polynesia,
where the plants grew perennially and were planted from shoots,
and the tubers remained in the ground until required. Exactly how
the sweet potato an American plant reached New Zealand
(and the rest of Oceania, for that matter), let alone how its cultivation
and storage came to be, remains a subject of speculation. We do
know that by the twelfth century, sweet potato cultivation seems
to have expanded from the northern part of the North Island into
the southern part and, soon thereafter, into the northern South
species of cabbage tree, Cordyline terminalis, was brought
to New Zealand from the tropics, but other cabbage trees (Cordyline
pumilio, Cordyline australis, and Cordyline indivisa)
are natives and were also exploited for food. The white inner trunk
of young trees and the fleshy taproot were both used. Roots, often
a meter in length, were split in two and cooked in an earth oven,
and the trunks were prepared in the same manner (Young 1992).
cabbage trees, the karaka (Corynocarpus laevigatus) was also
"semicultivated," yielding bountiful crops of plum-size,
oval berries that turned orange when ripe. The outer flesh of this
fruit is tasty, but the bulk of the food value is in the kernel,
which is highly poisonous if eaten raw. Ripe berries were gathered
from the ground and trod upon with bare feet to work off the outer
flesh (Burton 1982). Next, the kernels were steamed in an earth
oven for 24 hours, steeped in running water for a lengthy period
to extract the bitter alkaloid poison, then preserved by drying
in the sun; subsequently, they were stored in baskets.
the gardens and the bush lay areas where the bracken fern (Pteridium
aquilinum var. esculentum) grew. The tips of the new
fronds can be eaten raw or boiled, but the roots (aruhe in
Maori) were the major parts of the plant that were consumed. This
fern was usually dug up in the spring, at a time when the roots
are about an inch thick and break crisply to reveal a white interior
with a few black fibers. They were dried on shaded platforms by
the wind, then roasted, scraped, the inner flesh pounded, and baked
into small loaves.
"wild" foods were secured from the forest. There are at
least 190 edible native plants found in New Zealand (Crowe 1997),
and Maori used most of them. A variety of roots were utilized, including
those from two species of bindweed (Calystegia spp.); terrestrial
orchid tubers (examples include those of the "potato orchid,"
Gastrodia cunninghamii, the "onion orchid," Microtes
unifolia, and the "sun orchid," Thelymitra longifolia);
the roots of the bulrush or raupo (Typha orientalis); and
the rock lily (Arthropodium cirratum).
and leaves from a wide range of other species were used as greens.
Important among these were the young fronds of a number of ferns,
such as the curling buds of the hen-and-chicken fern, Asplenium
bulbiferum (which taste like asparagus) and especially the "sow
thistle" or puha (Sonchus asper). An introduced species,
Sonchus oleraceus, is still eaten today. Like the pith of
the cabbage tree, that of the black tree fern of the forest (Cyathea
medullus) was baked for several hours on hot embers, then peeled
and eaten, or, alternately, steamed in an earth oven, sliced, and
dried on sticks.
berries of numerous trees were consumed, but those of the hinau
(Elaeocarpus denatus), the tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa),
and the tutu (Coriaria spp.) underwent elaborate processing.
Hinau berries, for example, were pounded and sifted to remove
the hard kernels, and the meal was then kneaded into a paste and
formed into dark brown, oily cakes that were cooked and could be
stored. A somewhat simpler procedure subjected the kernels of tawa
berries to roasting in hot ashes or steaming in an earth oven. Perhaps
tutu berries underwent the most complex processing. The only
part of these that was not deadly poisonous was the purple juice
of the sepals enclosing the fruits. That juice was first sieved,
with any vestiges of seeds, stalks, or leaves discarded, after which
it was permitted to set until it became a relish, or it was boiled
with the pith of tree fern or with pieces of bull kelp (Durvillea
antarctica) to form jellies.
large number of other trees supplied insignificant amounts of small
berries, but these were not staple foods. They were often called
"childrens food," although many were regarded as
delicacies. Sweeteners also were obtained from the bush, mainly
from the nectar of flowers and from certain vines, such as the rata
(Metrosideros fulgens). A very important food item in some areas
was the pollen of the raupo (Typha orientalis), which was
dried, stripped from the stems, sifted, mixed with water, then made
into loaves and steamed.
the Polynesian domestic animals (the pig, Sus scrofa, the
chicken, Gallus gallus, and the dog, Canis canis)
described by Nancy David Lewis (chapter V.E.3.), only the dog seems
to have survived the journey to New Zealand. Dogs were kept as food
animals as well as for hunting birds, and their dietary importance
varied from place to place. They were probably seldom a major source
of protein but always a steady and reliable one (Davidson 1984).
In addition, the small Polynesian rat (Rattus exulans) accompanied
humans to New Zealand, and although it can hardly be viewed as a
domesticated animal, it was a scavenger around settlements and a
fruit-eating forest dweller that was esteemed as a delicacy. "Rat
runs," where snares were laid, were so valuable that they were
virtually "owned" by families, or by individuals.
were also numerous hunted animals, particularly the fur seal (Arctocephalus
forsteri), and a wide variety of birds to capture, including
the large flightless moa, already mentioned. The importance of the
fur seal in the pre-European diet has only recently been appreciated.
When Polynesians first arrived, the fur seals bred prodigiously,
and as one seal represents an enormous amount of meat, they were
probably as important in the diet as moa. They were gradually reduced
in number and driven from their northern breeding grounds before
the arrival of the Europeans, but they remained important in the
south. Other marine mammals, such as sea lions, leopard and elephant
seals, dolphins, and whales, were eaten when they were occasionally
captured or, in the case of whales, washed up on beaches.
moa may not have dominated the early human diet in New Zealand as
once thought, they were an important food item everywhere. While
the dates of the final disappearance of moa from different parts
of the country are not established, the birds seem to have survived
in some localities until about the fifteenth century. Apart from
moa, the most important birds eaten were shags, penguins (especially
the Little Blue), ducks (particularly the Grey, Anas gibberifrons,
and the Paradise, Tadorna variegata), the sooty shearwater
(the "mutton bird" of later times), and various rails.
variety of "bush" birds were eaten as well. These included
the kaka (Nestor meridonalis), the pigeon (Hemiphaga novaeseelandiae),
the tui (Prosthermadera novaeseelandiae), the kiwi
(Apteryx spp.), the kakapo (Strigops habroptilus),
parakeets (Cyanoramphus spp.), wattled birds, albatrosses,
mollyhawks, and various gulls.
were captured or killed with nets, spears, and snares, and by hand
collection of the young. Bush birds were most commonly snared and
speared in the autumn and early winter when berries were ripe or
when nectar was in the flowers early in the summer. Bird carcasses
were preserved in fat in airtight containers made from either gourds
or bull kelp (Belich 1996).
formed a very important item of Maori diet, especially by the eighteenth
century and in the northern part of the country, where the most
productive shellfish beds were located (Davidson 1984). Shellfish
gathering was largely womens work, as was the gathering of
crabs, sea urchins, and kina. In contrast, the catching of
fin fish was largely done by men (Young 1992). Hook-and-line fishing,
as well as various types of nets and traps, were used to catch snapper,
red cod, barracouta, trevally, yellow-eyed mullet, and various wrasses.
Many other fish were also caught and consumed, but there was considerable
regional variation in the most important species. In the north,
snapper dominated, but in the south it was barracouta and red cod.
A considerable quantity of the fish caught was baked and hung from
poles and racks to dry for future use. Seaweed, especially a type
called karenga (Porphyra columbina), was also consumed, as
was bull kelp (Durvillaea antarctica, which served additionally
to make storage containers for other foods) and sea lettuce (Ulva
dwellers utilized small freshwater fish, such as the kokopu
(a native trout), grayling, postlarval young trout returning upstream
(known as inanga or whitebait), and a species of lamprey.
Freshwater crayfish and mussels were consumed, but the most important
freshwater creatures were eels, taken in basketwork traps. In some
locations, elaborate weirs were constructed to channel eels during
methods of preserving and preparing food have been mentioned, the
latter deserve further comment. The earth oven (a circular hole
in the ground about 2 feet in diameter and about 1 foot deep), called
either a hangi or an umu, was the principal method
of cooking (Crowe 1997). A fire was made in the hole, and a layer
of stones laid upon it; these, when heated, were removed, and the
embers cleaned out. The heated stones were returned to the hole,
covered with green leaves, and sprinkled with water; then more leaves
were added, and food baskets or leaf-wrapped food placed on this
layer. The food was covered with still more leaves, wet flax mats,
old baskets, and the like, and the whole sprinkled liberally with
water and covered with earth so that the steam could not escape.
A familys food would normally cook in an hour or less, although
larger amounts took longer. In addition, some food was doubtless
roasted in hot ashes. Another technique, stone boiling, was also
in common usage. Water and food were placed in a wooden trough,
and red-hot stones added to bring the water to a boil.
a comment upon cannibalism is necessary. Human flesh did constitute
part of the diet (at least of eighteenth-century males) (Davidson
1984), but the practice seems to have been a form of revenge (utu),
desecrating the victims beyond the grave by turning them into cooked
food (Belich 1996). Although it fascinated and revolted early European
observers, the preponderant evidence indicates that those cannibalized
were enemies captured or killed in war, and cannibalism was primarily
an ultimate way of subjugating adversaries (Hanson and Hanson 1983).
way of summary then, broadly speaking, New Zealand in the eighteenth
century was divided into three areas in terms of the mix of foods
consumed (Cumberland 1949; Lewthwaite 1949). In the northern area,
horticulture was most successful, and the many harbors and estuaries
contained rich fish and shellfish resources. Along the coasts of
the southern North Island and northern South Island, and in the
interior of the North Island, horticulture was more marginal, and
hunting and gathering much more significant. Apart from the northern
fringe, people in the South Island depended on hunting, fishing,
and the gathering of wild plants.
period between A.D. 1350 and 1600 was one of transition. The early
settlers had exploited the premium game animals, such as moa and
seals, to the point of exhaustion, and this led people to move into
areas suitable for gardening, particularly in the north; it also
resulted in an increased reliance on fishing and gathering throughout
the islands. Large-scale marine fishing seems to have increased
in importance after 1600, but the hunting of smaller birds and the
trapping of eels were also significant. Gardening certainly dominated
in the north, but elsewhere the "semicultivated" plants
also grew in importance in the diet.
European contact, the Maori were quick to adopt a variety of European
plants, in part to vary the diet in those areas where traditional
horticulture had been practiced, and in part to create a new dimension
in economics where traditional horticulture had been impossible.
More vigorous varieties of sweet potatoes and taro were introduced,
as was the white potato (Solanum), which probably dates from
the early 1770s. Because it was easier to grow than the sweet potato
and provided a higher yield, it rapidly gained popularity everywhere
(Burton 1982; Belich 1996). Less popular European vegetables introduced
in the eighteenth century were carrots, pumpkins, cabbages, turnips,
and parsnips (Burton 1982) although fruit trees, especially
peaches, were welcomed. Maize was the first cereal to gain acceptance;
wheat was adopted only during the 1840s and 1850s.
the European animals, the pig well established and running
wild by the early nineteenth century was the earliest and
most successful introduction. No other animal in New Zealand yielded
such a large quantity of meat, and pork became an important source
of protein. In fact, pork and white potatoes joined native puha
(sow thistle) and sweet potatoes, foods from the sea, and birds
from the forest as the Maori diet in the early decades of the nineteenth
century. At first, all of these new introductions may have contributed
to an improvement in nutrition, but once Maori began selling land
and losing access to the resources of the bush and water, the quality
of the diet diminished (Pool 1991).
numerous Dutch, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and British explorers
had touched the shores of Australia and New Zealand from the late
sixteenth century onward, it was only in the late eighteenth century
that European colonization of these lands commenced. The 1769 voyage
of Captain Cook initiated this process, and the establishment by
the British of a penal colony at Botany Bay in 1788 (soon moved
to Sydney Harbour) marked the beginning of their (since then) permanent
and largely unchallenged presence in these southern
other penal colonies and one free-settler colony (South Australia)
were established by 1840, but in the early years it was Sydney that
dominated British affairs in the South Pacific. Among other things,
Sydney was the base from which New Zealands resources
enumerated as flax, timber, whales, seals, sex, and souls by James
Belich (1996) were exploited, and it was not until after
1840 that the direct settlement of New Zealand proceeded. Even then,
Australian influences remained strong, especially with regard to
food and beverage habits.
free settlers (both working- and middle-to-upper class) who went
to Australia and New Zealand after 1840 were from very similar socioeconomic
backgrounds, and not surprisingly, the economies of the two countries
developed in very similar ways. Australia was a little more Irish
(and Catholic) than New Zealand because in Australias formative
years, more than one-third of the settlers (both convicts and assisted
migrants) were from Ireland. In New Zealand, by contrast, approximately
one-quarter of the settlers were Scots, and only 19 percent were
Irish. Nonetheless, according to Michael Symons (1982), the Irish
influence on antipodean food included a strong preference for potatoes,
the method of cooking them (boiling in a cauldron), and a liking
for strong drink consumed away from home at pubs.
settlers comprised barely a half of those arriving in the colonies,
and the overall mixed British in contrast to purely English
character of the population also had considerable influence
on eating and drinking in the region. Indeed, the food and beverage
habits carried to Australia, and later to New Zealand, were basically
those of Britains burgeoning urban underclass: potatoes, bread,
and tea, with a little sugar, milk, and occasionally bacon (see
Colin Spencer, chapter V.C.4.).
the other hand, some of the assisted migrants, from the working
and lower-to-middle classes, were from rural backgrounds and accustomed
to a bit more diversity in their diets (potatoes, bread, cheese,
butter, bacon, milk, tea, sugar, peas, turnips, and a little meat).
Moreover, the officers and officials of the Australian penal colonies
and, later, the wealthier settlers in both Australia and New Zealand
brought with them the food habits of a middle class, sometimes with
upper-class aspirations. Colin Spencer (chapter V.C.4.) describes
a late-eighteenth-century middle-class meal in England as consisting
of three boiled chickens, a haunch of venison, a ham, flour-and-suet
pudding, and beans, followed by gooseberries and apricots. As a
rule, large amounts of meat were consumed by those who could afford
it, and such vegetables as cabbages, carrots, spinach, Brussels
sprouts, and turnips were common. Beer and ale were the most popular
drinks until distilled spirits, such as gin and crude rums, took
over during the eighteenth century.
both Australia and New Zealand, the early years of settlement were
characterized by a failure to establish successful farms and achieve
self-reliance in food production. The area around Sydney was poor
farming country, and in the early nineteenth century, sheep farming
for wool production became the lifeblood of Australia. Sheep reached
New Zealand a bit later (1833), pastoralism expanded in the 1840s,
and by the late 1850s, wool was also central to the New Zealand
Australia, a lasting dependence upon imported foodstuffs developed.
New Zealand also depended on imports, but in addition, such settlements
as Auckland, Wellington, New Plymouth, and Nelson came to rely on
a flourishing Maori agriculture for their supplies of potatoes,
maize, onions, cabbages, peaches, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, grapes,
melons, apples, and quinces, as well as flour (milled in Maori mills),
fish, chickens, geese, turkeys, and goats (Belich 1996). It was
only in the late 1850s that settlers began to produce much of their
own food and the role of the Maori as food providers began to decline.
last half of the nineteenth century brought stunning transformations
to Australia and New Zealand. The gold rushes that began in both
countries during the 1850s precipitated rapid social and economic
changes, including the growth of urban areas, so that by 1900, these
areas encompassed about 50 percent of the population (Symons 1982).
In addition, railway networks opened up areas for the production
of food of all types, not only for local consumption but also for
export. After the 1870s, and especially after the inauguration of
refrigerated shipping in 1882, both Australia and New Zealand became
producers of meat (mutton, lamb, and beef), dairy products, and
later fruit, for the British market. By the late nineteenth century,
livestock ranching and the growing of both temperate and tropical
cereals, fruits, and vegetables were all well established in areas
suited to them, and in Australia, irrigated farming was developing
along the Murray-Murrumbidgee river system. In well-watered, temperate
New Zealand, the native vegetation was largely replaced by exotic
pasture grasses to feed the introduced animals (Crosby 1978), and
in southeastern Australia and along the northeastern coast (where
the growing of sugar and tropical fruits came to dominate), the
landscapes were transformed as well.
outcome of the success of pastoralism was that Australia and New
Zealand became nations of meat eaters. Up through the 1870s, there
was no overseas market for meat, which, as a consequence, was inexpensive
relative to peoples incomes (Burton 1982). Meat in large amounts
was eaten at every meal: beefsteaks or mutton chops at breakfast,
cold beef at luncheon, and roast or boiled beef or mutton at dinner
(Symons 1982; Walker and Roberts 1988).
and "Crew Culture"
(under sentence of "transportation" to Australia) along
with their guards, working-class settlers bound for New Zealand,
and assisted migrants to both countries (not to mention the crews
of the ships carrying them all) were all provided with "rations."
The voyage from the British Isles was a long one, with three to
six months the norm (the "First Fleet" to Australia in
1787 and 1788 took eight-and-a-half months), and although officers
and cabin passengers enjoyed a satisfactory diet, the rations for
the rest which were not satisfactory remained remarkably
the same for more than 70 years.
way of illustration, the weekly rations for each of the Royal Marines
aboard during the First Fleets voyage to Botany Bay were 7
pounds of bread, 2 pounds of salt pork, 4 pounds of salt beef, 2
pounds of peas, 3 pounds of oatmeal, 6 ounces of butter, three-quarters
of a pound of cheese, and a half-pint of vinegar, along with 3 quarts
of water a day (Symons 1982); the convicts rations were two-thirds
those of the marines. More than a half-century later, during the
1840s, New Zealand Company settlers were provided with 3.5 pounds
of salt meat and 5.25 pounds of biscuit weekly, supplemented with
rice, flour, oatmeal, dried peas, dried potatoes, raisins, butter,
sugar, coffee, and tea.
did the issuance of rations necessarily end when one stepped ashore.
In Australia, the convicts and guards from the First Fleet had to
subsist on rations for nearly three years, because agriculture had
not yet developed (Walker and Roberts 1988). In the early settlements
in New Zealand, ordinary migrants lived on New Zealand Company rations
so long as the Companys money lasted (Belich 1996). But it
was sheep farming that firmly entrenched the "ration mentality"
in Australian and New Zealand food culture.
grazing required complements of shepherds as well as gangs to shear
the sheep, usually made up of itinerant males, who were the founders
of many working-class traditions in both countries. Shepherds were
partially paid in rations; handed out on Saturday nights and supplemented
with spirits and a paycheck, this food eventually earned the name
"Ten, Ten, Two, and a Quarter" because it usually included
10 pounds of flour, 10 pounds of meat, 2 pounds of sugar, a quarter-pound
of tea, and salt (Symons 1982).
Ten, Two, and a Quarter" was the monotonous diet of the rural
workforce until well into the twentieth century, and it was very
characteristic of the diet of "crews" of coastal seamen,
soldiers, sawyers, millworkers, construction workers, road and railway
builders, miners, gum diggers, and farmhands. The "crew culture"
was a factor in quite a few industries, and despite the many different
kinds of work, involved a number of common characteristics: The
work was dangerous; the crews lived in rough conditions; they used
similar slang; most members were single; most spent their money
on binges; and most ate a ration-style diet.
then, for the first half century, the majority of Australians were
reared on what might be called prison rations a practice
that was transferred to New Zealand. In both countries, crew culture
was reinforced by the dominant means of cooking: an open fire, whether
at a campsite or in a hut or cottage. With the necessary implements
hatchet, knife, quart-pot (the "billy can"), and
frying pan the standard rations made a "damper,"
a fry of meats, and pots of tea. The "damper" was flour
and water, cooked in the ashes of the fire; the meat was salt pork,
corned beef, or freshly slaughtered mutton; the tea, although taken
with plenty of sugar, usually lacked milk. Its abundance meant that
meat was consumed at every meal.
contrast to the diets of the lower classes, the foodways carried
to these new lands by the more genteel folk reflected the social
differences of the Great Britain they had just left. Cabin passengers
breakfasted on rolls, toast, cold meat, and hot chops. At luncheon,
the fare was ham, tongue, beef, pickles, bread, and cheese, and
in the evening they dined on preserved salmon, soup, goose, saddle
of mutton, fowls, curry, ham, plum puddings, apple tarts, fruit,
and nuts, all of this washed down with stout, champagne, sherry,
and port (Belich 1996).
ashore, these elite few endeavored to maintain their notions of
genteel dietary regimes. Thus, as early as 1789, it is recorded
that the governor of New South Wales, the senior officers of the
regiment guarding the convicts, and the senior officials of the
civil administration sat down to several courses of fish, meat,
and game (Clements 1986). Or again, in New Zealand of the 1850s,
the meal served at an elegant dinner party might have included local
fish, beef, sweet potatoes, Irish pork, Lancashire ham, and Cheshire
cheese (Burton 1982). Indeed, just a few years later, an upper-class
"colonial banquet" in Australia consisted of asparagus,
turtle soup, trumpeter (a local fish) with butter sauce, lamb à
la poulette, roast kangaroo, Australian blue cheese, wines,
and liqueurs with coffee (Symons 1982). Later in the century, a
suggested menu for a dinner party included oysters, turtle soup,
baked barramundi, "beef olives" and chicken cream, roast
fillet of beef, roast turkey and bread sauce, asparagus on toast,
"angel food" cake, cherries in jelly, fruit, olives, and
deviled almonds (Symons 1982).
speaking, middle-class meals were enormous. Breakfast consisted
of porridge, bacon and eggs or lamb cutlets, and perhaps curry or
fish (Burton 1982). Luncheon might feature soup, a roast joint,
vegetables, and cooked pudding or fruit. Four- or five-course family
dinners were not uncommon, beginning with an "appetizer"
of soup or fish, continuing with a roast, vegetables, and a pudding,
and topped off with fruit and cheese.
Diet and Modernization
habits were considerably influenced by late-nineteenth-century technological
developments, such as urbanization, railroads that rapidly transported
products, and breakthroughs in food processing and preservation
(including refrigeration). Australia and New Zealand were becoming
modern, mass-consumption societies.
roller mills producing refined white flour began to appear in the
1860s, and from this time on, workers, like their counterparts in
Britain, began to enjoy a cornucopia of biscuits, macaroni, jams,
confectionery, cordials, pickles, condiments, and snacks. These
products, with their brand names, were advertised extensively and
commonly sold in the emerging grocery shops. Also in the 1860s,
beer (now "bottom fermented" and thus capable of longer-term
storage and long-distance transportation) was brewed, and by 1900,
todays major brewery corporations were already in existence.
technology also changed. At the beginning of the nineteenth century,
cooking was mostly done over an open fire, where meats were roasted
and stewpots suspended. One refinement at this time was the "Dutch
oven" or "camp oven," a round pot with legs and a
handle so that it could either stand or hang. By the middle of the
nineteenth century, the "Colonial oven," a simple cast-iron
box with a door in front that sat in the fireplace, had come into
widespread use. Cast-iron ranges were imported beginning in the
1850s, and by the 1870s, locally manufactured stoves had entered
the market (Burton 1982). This was at about the same time that the
first gas stoves were introduced, permitting better control of the
the early twentieth century, a new array of processed and packaged
foods that supplemented the basic bread, mutton, beef, pork,
milk, eggs, fruit, vegetables, and tea were in common use.
As Symons (1982) has noted, tea was the national beverage, and alcohol
was not usually drunk with meals (other than by the upper classes),
but rather was imbibed separately in hotel bars (Wood 1988). By
the time of World War I, both Australia and New Zealand had seen
the development of strong temperance movements, which proved powerful
enough to persuade governments to hold referendums on the outright
prohibition of alcoholic beverages, and some of the voting was very
close. During the war, hotel bar hours were curtailed (Symons 1982),
with closing time usually at 6:00 P.M., leading to the infamous
"six oclock swill."
the 1920s, numerous developments further standardized eating habits.
Fresh fruits and nuts were heavily promoted, as were pasteurized
milk and ice cream (Symons 1982). Bread a staple in urban
areas since the time of early settlement was baked mostly
in mechanized bakeries, and to see it wrapped for sale in grocery
stores was becoming common in Australia. Iceboxes were now widespread,
and by the 1920s, wealthier housewives were looking forward to owning
their own refrigerators.
1920s also saw an increased American influence on food, as sundae
shops and soda fountains arrived and such big American food companies
as Heinz, Kellogg, and Kraft moved in. These, along with such others
as Nestlé (Switzerland) and Cadbury (England), came to dominate
Australian and New Zealand eating and drinking habits. They pushed
early "convenience" foods, defined as those that needed
no cooking outside of the factory, which simplified breakfast and
provided after-school and bedtime snacks. One product epitomizes
this era. "Vegemite," made from brewery waste (spent yeast),
became a runaway success after its alleged health attributes were
extensively advertised during the 1930s and 1940s (Symons 1982).
The postWorld War II baby boom created a huge new market for
"Vegemite, the family health food."
this time, too, food companies and womens magazines promoted
a more dainty cuisine aimed at the afternoon tea market: "Lamingtons"
(chocolate-and-coconut-coated cubes of cake), "Anzac biscuits"
(made of coconut, rolled oats, and golden syrup), and especially
the "Pavlova" (made of whipped egg whites, corn flour,
vinegar, sugar, a few drops of vanilla essence, and a pinch of cream
of tartar, baked and topped with whipped cream and fruit
especially passionfruit and, today, kiwifruit). Pavlova, named after
the famous ballerina ("It is as light as Pavlova"), is
alternatively said to have originated in both Australia and New
Zealand (Symons 1982).
War II had much influence upon food and beverage habits. Rationing
was introduced, which curtailed the use of sugar, tea, flour, and
meat. However, the demand for more fruit and vegetables created
by the presence of U.S. military forces in Australia and New Zealand
brought about an increase in the acreage planted with both. Vegetables
were also increasingly canned and, later, dehydrated to provide
the military with preserved food. The meat-processing industry was
compelled to upgrade its standards and put out new canned meats,
such as chile con carne, luncheon meats, "Spam,"
and Vienna sausage (Symons 1982). Coca-Cola came with the American
troops and stayed after they left.
the 1960s in both Australia and New Zealand, bread, milk, vegetables,
groceries, and meat were all delivered. But with the advent of relatively
inexpensive automobiles (first in Australia and quite a bit later
in New Zealand) and universal ownership of refrigerators, supermarkets
began to control food sales, all of which had the effect of furthering
the trend toward nationally standardized and distributed food. Supermarket
giants came to dominate food marketing with "prepackaging,"
bright labels, and an emphasis on low prices rather than on quality.
These chain-store companies did not like dealing with small producers
and growers. Because they preferred products with long shelf life,
they tended to offer canned, dried, and frozen rather than fresh
foods, processed by industrial-size producers who could guarantee
regular supply, consistent quality, and steady prices.
identifying gaps on the supermarket shelves, such producers brought
forth a new array of foodstuffs, many of a "convenience"
nature, such as "Muesli," reconstituted orange juice,
teabags, pizza, frozen fruits and vegetables, and the like. Foods
of this sort were marketed as "labor-saving," were usually
aimed at target groups after extensive market research, and were
given scientific credence through the endorsement of "home
economists" and "nutrition experts" (Symons 1982).
This was especially characteristic of the frozen-food industry,
which included such internationally known brand names as Birdseye
(owned by Unilever in Australia and New Zealand), as well as local
processors (for example, Watties in New Zealand) that began freezing
peas, corn, berry fruits, Brussels sprouts, beans, and asparagus
during the 1950s and later expanded into fish products, "TV
dinners," frozen chips, cakes, poultry, and meats.
has been the case in developed countries elsewhere, recent decades
have also witnessed the sacrifice of family farms to agribusiness,
monoculture, the intensive use of fertilizers and pesticides, and
the arrival of scientifically "engineered" fruits and
vegetables, made possible by agricultural research and funded by
both governments and private corporations (Symons 1982). Recently,
however, new "alternative" farming ventures have also
arisen that produce organic fruit and vegetables and market them
directly to consumers through resurrected city markets. At the same
time, the "back to the earth" movement has supplemented
the limited information prevailing in industrial societies concerning
the imitation of developing-world cuisine (Symons 1982). In Australia,
the food items of the original inhabitants have begun to be noticed
again, but as yet in New Zealand, there has not been the same level
of interest in "Maori" food other than breads, seafoods
(kai moana), and foods cooked in the traditional earth oven
(Osborne 1989; Paul 1996).
establishments have existed since the beginnings of settlement in
Australia, and in fact, in 1800 the Freemasons Arms in Sydney
served excellent French-style food. More commonly, early eating
houses and taverns dished out boiled mutton and broths, but both
the Australian and New Zealand colonies had numerous eating houses
with reputations for excellent "British cookery" (Symons
1982). The belle epoque for fine restaurants was between 1890 and
World War I, when in all of the major cities, gourmet restaurants
served a wide range of continental cuisines. Following the war,
however, gourmets could lament that the two countries had only one
diet: steaks, chops, beef, mutton, potatoes, and gravy, with suet
pudding and slabs of cheese (Symons 1982).
the less wealthy, "fourpenny" and "sixpenny"
restaurants, serving basic meats and vegetables, had come into being
at about the middle of the nineteenth century (Symons 1982). The
fish-and-chip shop, a feature of Australian and New Zealand life
that has remained, albeit modified, to the present day, arrived
somewhat later. Another such feature is the ubiquitous meat pie
brought by the British, which evolved over a long period to become
the standardized dish common since the 1920s (Symons 1982). Men
commonly ate meat pies at sporting events and as a counter lunch
item in hotel bars. By World War II, the meat pie had become a "national
dish" in both countries. The New Zealand Food and Drug Regulations
of 1973 state that meat pies shall be encased in a pastry shell
and contain not less than 25 percent cooked or manufactured meat
recently, "going out to dinner" for many Australians and
New Zealanders meant the fish-and-chip shop or the "pie cart,"
a mobile, trailerlike café parked at a convenient location,
which served meat pies with various accompaniments (for example,
mashed potatoes and peas, known all together as "pea, pie,
and pud"), as well as various other types of portable food
to its customers (Burton 1982). Even as late as the 1960s, the only
alternatives to the fish shop and the pie cart were the dining rooms
of hotels and exclusive private clubs, both of which served a very
standard antipodean cuisine: steak and chips, roast meats and vegetables,
bread and butter, tea, and ice cream with passion fruit (Symons
the late 1960s, however, the pie carts and the fish-and-chip shops
began receiving stiff competition from American-style fast-food
outlets. Kentucky Fried Chicken was the first, in 1968, and McDonalds
and Pizza Hut were not far behind. A decade later, such fast-food
franchises were everywhere, although their products did not completely
replace fish-and-chips and meat pies, and many of the traditional
fish-and-chip shops have recently expanded their "takeaway"
(carry-out) menus to include Chinese food as well as a variety of
European fast foods, such as gyros and kebabs. Fast-food outlets
of this type, often operated by recent immigrants, have contributed
significantly to the diversification of foodways in Australia and
even more importance, however, has been the recent explosive growth
of all types of restaurants. Some of this growth can be attributed
to the influence of immigrants from Europe soon after World War
II and, more recently, from Asia and the Pacific region. But as
affluence grew in both Australia and New Zealand, more people began
to visit Europe and other places around the world, and as they did
so, they discovered that there was more to the "good life"
than steak-and-eggs and chips.
Food and Beverage Ways
overseas travel, the window to the world opened by television, affluence,
and the continuing globalization of food have all contributed to
the diversification of Australian and New Zealand diets. Another
significant change has been in drinking habits. An accompaniment
to the growth of diversified, quality eating places has been the
proliferation of locally produced wines, some of fine quality, some
not. Although Australians and New Zealanders were and are beer drinkers,
they have also historically drunk sweet wines, characteristically
"screw-topped Riesling" (Symons 1982).
have long been grown, since 1791 in Australia and 1819 in New Zealand
(de Blij 1985). Wine making developed early in Australia: By the
1820s, it was successful around Sydney and had expanded to the Hunter
Valley. In the 1830s and 1840s, viticulture and wine making began
in Victoria and South Australia, and a solid market for sweet and
fortified wines developed. During the 1960s and the years that followed,
the industry was transformed, with new, high-quality cultivars planted;
technological and wine-making improvements led to a vastly expanded
and diversified array of wines to meet developing consumer tastes.
wine making is much more recent in New Zealand, which had only 200
acres planted with wine grapes in 1945. But the industry expanded
enormously after 1960, with white varietals initially dominating.
Today, red varietals have also come into their own, and there are
more than 140 vineyards marketing wine in New Zealand. Some are
owned by large corporations; yet there are also many small producers
making excellent wines.
(1982) has characterized eating and drinking in Australia since
1788 as "one continuous picnic," and the contention here
is that the same has been true in New Zealand. Both peoples were
dispatched to the antipodes with packed provisions "rations"
of salt pork and ships biscuits. Pastoralists were
paid in rations of flour (for damper), "billy tea," and
slabs of meat, and the indigenous peoples learned their new foodways
from the "crews" who were transforming their lands. The
railways sent Australians and New Zealanders jaunting off with a
litter of tins and bottles. More recently, semitrailer trucks have
brought in Coca-Cola, frozen puff pastry, and "Big Macs."
The concept of a picnic highlights the most essential character
of Australian and New Zealand food right from the beginning: portability.
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over hot coals harks back nostalgically? to an earlier
age, when men (and women, when they were present) cooked their rations
over open fires with a minimum of equipment.
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