Meat & Livestock News

Enhancing National Lamb Day Celebrations in New Zealand


  • Ag Proud charity aims to elevate New Zealand’s National Lamb Day celebrations to acknowledge agriculture’s longstanding contribution to the economy, inspired by Australia’s robust observance.
  • The celebration, marking the anniversary of New Zealand’s first frozen meat shipment in 1882, will feature events at Parliament, Southern Field Days, and free barbecues in major urban centres.
  • Through these events, Ag Proud seeks to enhance the connection between rural and urban communities, highlight the challenges and solutions within the sheep industry, and underscore the pivotal role of agriculture in New Zealand’s past and future.

New Zealand’s Ag Proud charity is setting the stage for an enhanced celebration of National Lamb Day, inspired by Australia’s fervent observance of the occasion.

This initiative commemorates the historic moment on February 15, 1882, when New Zealand dispatched its first shipment of frozen meat from Port Chalmers to London aboard the Dunedin. The celebration, spanning February 13-15, will unfold at Parliament, Southern Field Days near Gore, and through free barbecues in major urban centres across New Zealand.

Jon Pemberton, the chair of Ag Proud, expressed his desire for New Zealand to embrace National Lamb Day as a tribute to the agricultural sector’s 140-year contribution to the nation’s economy. He highlighted the importance of spreading a positive message and fostering inclusivity.

Traditionally, National Lamb Day has been a low-key event on May 24, marking Dunedin’s arrival in London. However, Ag Proud aims to elevate the profile of this day with a series of events starting with a luncheon at Parliament on February 13, hosted by NZ First MP, Associate Agriculture Minister, and South Otago sheep farmer Mark Patterson, in collaboration with Beef + Lamb NZ.

The following day’s highlight is a public barbecue at the Southern Field Days, supported by meat companies and Beef + Lamb NZ. Esteemed chefs, including Ethan Flack, who has earned his stripes in Michelin-starred restaurants worldwide and recently returned to Southland, will engage with attendees about lamb’s culinary delights.

On February 15, Ag Proud volunteers will organise barbecues in major cities, offering free food and a chance for farmers to connect with urban dwellers. Pemberton sees this as an exciting opportunity to bridge the gap between rural and urban communities.

He also touched on the challenges facing the sheep industry, such as low meat prices, drawing parallels with the obstacles overcome by the pioneers of the first frozen meat shipment. Pemberton believes that, just as solutions were found in the past, the current challenges can also be addressed.

By raising the profile of lamb, Ag Proud aims to remind New Zealanders of agriculture’s significant role in the nation’s development and its continued importance for the future. This initiative also seeks to mirror the success of Australia’s National Lamb Day, celebrated on January 26, known for its high-profile advertising campaigns.