In 1994 New Zealand Post issued the first ‘Kiwiana’ stamp series – a light-hearted tribute to the foods, toys, sports and lifestyles that define New Zealand’s culture and attitude and set us apart from the rest of the world.
From fish and chips to gumboots, the stamps enabled us to laugh at ourselves while appreciating and celebrating our special identity. Kiwiana 2 is the sequel to this popular issue, featuring 10 more characteristics of everyday New Zealand life. It salutes the versatile li-lo, a pair of cosy ug boots, the gastronomic delights of the chocolate fish, the hot dog, the meat pie and the Anzac biscuit and our summer necessities the barbecue, the chilly bin, pipis (a seafood delicacy) and the classic Kiwi holiday home, the bach (or crib).
Named for the disastrous but heroic landing at Gallipoli in 1915, by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, the Anzac biscuit owes something to the origins of many Kiwis in being a peculiarly New Zealand version of the Scottish oatcake. The imaginative addition of golden syrup and coconut gives the Anzac ‘bikkie’ a certain piquancy.
The holiday bach remains a quintessentially Kiwi preserve with an almost mystical fascination for generations of New Zealanders. In the South Island, it is known as a ‘crib’ a term used by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist, to mean a lodging or public house. In the North Island with typical New Zealand blitheness the word ‘bach’ was picked up to denote bachelor accommodation, literally a shortened version of ‘bachelor’, suggesting a reserved ‘Man Alone’ type surviving under basic living conditions. However, in the years following World War II, the bach became a family holiday retreat, a magical haven of informality and a casual back-to-basics style of living.
"We’re having a barbeque, bring some meat," is a phrase shot full of expectation and romance for New Zealanders. The New Zealand barbecue has assumed a peculiar prominence in the social calendar, requiring casual but stylish dress, a warm ‘cardy’ or ‘parka’ in case of biting southerlies and a combination of anything from sausages and chops to paua fritters and marinated chicken. The meat is usually accompanied by potato salad and coleslaw. While these accompaniments are left to the women, men rule over the charcoal grill, whether it be in the backyard or on the beach, standing about the barbecue grill with a beer in hand.
A certain restlessness of spirit combined with an inquisitive desire to see if the grass really is greener in the next hundred paddocks sees thousands of Kiwis take to the road every Christmas, Easter and weekend. Often we bring our own food and beverage and usually carry it in the boot of the car in the trusty chilly bin. Known to Australians as the 'esky', and elsewhere in the world as a 'cooler', this is the only country where the chilly bin is the generic name for this eminently portable insulated lunchbox. With around 85,000 sold here every year, they’re an indispensable part of a freewheeling easy Kiwi summer lifestyle.
Fishing has always been a major industry here, in many cases for sheer survival, more recently for fun. The 1920s saw the development of a healthy beach culture and it didn’t take long before the enterprising chocolate company produced a delightfully sweet confectionery that reflected our adoration of all things nautical. Thus was born the not so humble chocolate fish. About 12.5 centimetres long, in a classic Greco-Roman fishy shape, its chocolate coating gives no hint of the finely spun piquant marshmallow pinkness within. Generations of Kiwi children were raised with the anticipation of the ‘choccie fish’ as a special treat.
No self-respecting stock car race, fairground, A & P Show, or school gala would be seen without a hot dog stall. In the middle of last century enterprising fish and chip shop owners realised they could throw something other than fish into batter and oil. A beef sausage in batter found a ready market and the humble red sav looked particularly enticing in a crispy gold coat. The simple addition of an icecream stick stuck in one end made it portable – and a dunking in tomato sauce made it irresistible.
The lilo has played a starring role for many years in New Zealand beach culture – along with inflatable water wings for kids, drawstring plastic beach bags, jandals, rubber bathing caps, bermuda shorts, transistor radios, suntan lotion and Holdens with a surf board rack. Not a New Zealand invention, the lilo, came from England as a brandname for an airmattress, traditionally made of rubber with a mercerized cotton covering. But the kids who had spent summer afternoons at the river or the beach floating like inverted beetles in bloated rubber innertubes from a tractor tyre quickly adapted the lilo to the same purpose.
It used to be said that a New Zealander’s idea of a seven-course meal consists of a six-pack and a pie.
The meat pie is a New Zealand staple. Although meat stew in a pastry case has long been popular in English cookery, the small square eat-on-the-run version is a distinctly New Zealand adaptation.
Pavlova, puha, paua and the small but resilient pipi make up part of the gastronomic mythology of Aotearoa.
If you see New Zealand families strewn along a sandy beach at low tide, bottoms up, scrabbling in the sand, they are probably gathering pipi, or their relatives tuatua and the much larger, rarer and controlled toheroa, which all belong to a family of shellfish unique to this country. Shellfish have always formed part of the New Zealand diet. Maori had to be expert fishermen, with few alternative protein sources in the bush. While men went fishing, it was the women who collected the seafood on the shore.
An Australian surfie, who wrapped a piece of sheepskin around his chilly lower extremities, is deemed to be the inventor of the caveman-like Ug (short for ugly) boot in the 60s. But it was New Zealand manufactures that stole a march on our trans-Tasman neighbours to turn this walking tribute to practically an export winner. The crude early design was modified with a cut across the ankle and since then there’s been the addition of a sole for increased ruggedness, short and tall versions, and a variety of colours.
|Date of Issue:||3 April 2000|
|Designer:||Bob Gagnon, Silverdale, New Zealand|
|Printer:||Southern Colour Print, New Zealand|
|Stamp Size:||25mm x 30mm|
|Perforation Gauge:||Die cut|