Friday, 26 April 2019

Food in Wartime

Col. Lord Glanusk, C.B., D.S.O published a poem in the Wanganui Chronicle on 12 January 1916. His poem not only stressed the need to be frugal, but also cautions soldiers on what it was they should be frugal with:

                “To a soldier on service these tips I explain,
                Should carry you through e’en the longest campaign,
                A very sound rule is, wherever your beat,
                Don’t part with a “biscuit” without a receipt.
                But if you take charge of it, surely it’s sound too,
                Don’t give a receipt, then, unless you are bound to.
                Care there should be, if your life you’d preserve,
                Ammunition, food, men, keep a bit in reserve.
                Don’t waste any food, and throw nothing away,
                Or perhaps you’ll go hungry the very next day.”
            (The Wanganui Chronicle, Volume LX, Issue 50248, 12 January 1916)

World War One

New Zealand newspapers during wartime published many articles about food production, contingency plans and how New Zealanders could help out.

The Colonist: 6 August 1914 – Sir Joseph Ward (leader of the opposition) suggested that the government have the power to appoint a board of control to, “regulate the price of foodstuffs”.
The Colonist: 19 June 1915 – news from London stated that discussions were being held around preparing for food production if the war extended beyond the “1916 harvest”.
The Evening Post: 17 September 1915 – a group of businesses from Sydney, Australia send war-food gifts to England.
The Evening Post: 18 January 1917 – the retail prices are 87% over the pre-war prices in England. Principal increases are in potatoes, fish, flour, butter and cheese.
Marlborough Express: 21 February 1918 – the National Economy League formed in Palmerston North adopts the slogan, “Food wins the War – Save It!” The slogan was approved by the Prime Minister, Sir Joseph Ward. The league proposed that people could save in small ways. If New Zealanders reduced their waste in approximately 200,000 households, then the country would, “save sufficient to feed the whole of our New Zealand Expeditionary Forces, whether in camps, hospitals, on transports or at the front”.

A Wellington regiment’s field kitchen near the front line. Photograph taken at Grevillers, France. 24 August 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders.                                                                     
(A Wellington Regiment's field kitchen near the front line, World War I. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013518-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22696605)
Soldiers preparing a meal near a damaged German tank, possibly at Pont-a-Pierre, France, late 1918 by Henry Armytage Sanders.
(World War I soldiers preparing a meal near a damaged German tank, France. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/1-002081-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22909970)

Post World War One

The Evening Post: 30 April 1919 - The cost of food after the war was very high, especially with the basics:
                “In France 1 pound of butter cost the equivalent of 42NZ dollars,
                1 pound of lamb cost the equivalent of 22NZ dollars and 1 pound
                of tea cost the equivalent of 15NZ dollars”. Throughout the world
                there was a shortage of commodities, including butter.
Traders were asking to get rid of government control of price enforcement of commodities. This included bread, meat, butter, lard, dried fruits, eggs, tea and alcohol.

World War Two

Evening Post: 1 April 1943 - New Zealand representatives took part in a conference where delegates explored the long-range effects of war-food problems.

Ellesmere Guardian: 19 April 1940 – the Auckland district Council of Primary Production looked at three areas to explore the production of pig and butter production and heavier wool clips. R.B Tennant, director of Primary Production said that increasing production in farming should focus on farmers who were already farming as opposed to breaking in new land. Employment options were recruiting men from the Public Works Department and youths leaving school. However, a drawback was housing conditions on farms.
                Tennant stated, “to be effective, it would be necessary to provide a maximum
                number of houses on farms at the cheapest rate in the shortest time. If good
                conditions were provided, working an eight hour day over 5 days would be
                acceptable for recruits”.

Farmers were also urged to save more heifer calves to build up dairy production. Tennant called these measures, “common-sense lines for advancing production.”

Ration books were first issued in April 1942 through the Post Office to the head of each household. The coupons were cut from the book by retailers. Each household were given 52 clothing coupons per year. These books highlighted the need for New Zealanders to be frugal during wartime.

Cover of a World War Two Ration Book

Ration Book, October 1943, New Zealand, by New Zealand Government. Gift of Alison Hutton, 2008. Te Papa (GH012052)

Sugar Coupons

Ration Book, October 1943, New Zealand, by New Zealand Government. Gift of Alison Hutton, 2008. Te Papa (GH012052)

Tea Coupons

Ration Book, October 1943, New Zealand, by New Zealand Government. Gift of Alison Hutton, 2008. Te Papa (GH012052)

Post World War Two

Evening Post: 24 November 1945 – Mr R. H. Buchanan, President of the fielding Branch of Federated Farmers said that, “the total value of meat, butter, cheese etc., shipped overseas during the war period was £417,130,000, which did not take into account the amount consumed locally. 

Food & Goods Shipped During Wartime
Processed Milk
3,400,000 tons
25,900 tons
over 2,000,000 tons
Canned Vegetables
23,625 tons
over 700,000 tons
Dehydrated Vegetables
16,785 tons
625,000 tons
Other Fresh Vegetables
15,075 tons
154,285 tons
11,565 tons
55,800 tons
5,535 tons
Wool Produced
5,400,000 bales equal to 825,000 tons (4,150,000 bales shipped overseas and the balance held in New Zealand)

Written by Ani Sharland with thanks to images from Alexander Turnbull Library, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and newspaper articles from Papers Past.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Anzac Biscuits

Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that recognises all New Zealanders and Australians who have served during wars, conflict and peacekeeping operations. Anzac Day originally honoured those who served in the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) and fought at Gallipoli during World War I.

The Anzac Biscuit has long been attached to Anzac Day and is seen as a symbol of national identity in both New Zealand and Australia.

But there is much debate over the origins of the biscuits and whether they were eaten by soldiers during the First World War.

In her book Anzac Biscuits: the power and spirit of an everyday national icon, Allison Reynolds reviewed research into the history of Anzac biscuits.

In 1999 University of Otago Emeritus Professor Helen Leach asserted that there was 'no evidence' that Anzac biscuits were included in parcels sent to soldiers in World War I. Australian food historian Barbara Santich agrees with this writing 'there is no evidence that Australian women packed tins of homemade biscuits and dispatched them off to loved ones in the trenches.'

Dr Sian Supski on the other hand argues that it seems likely that a biscuit resembling an Anzac biscuit was sent. Supski references The Australian Comforts Fund, which requested that biscuits and cakes be packed in sealed tins.

In 1994 the New Zealand Listener shared an anecdote that a reader's mother remembered helping her own mother pack Anzac biscuits into large golden syrup tins during World War I to send to the front.

The New Zealand National Army Museum argues that Anzac biscuits being sent to the troops is a myth but does acknowledge that there is some evidence that a rolled oats biscuit was sent to troops on the Western Front but this 'was not widespread'.

Reynolds was unable to determine a definitive answer. She was also unable to determine when the name Anzac biscuit came into place despite extensive research. Reynolds asserts that not long after the 1915 Gallipoli campaign foods such as biscuits, cakes, and puddings had patriotic terms like Anzac or Gallipoli in them.

It is agreed that Anzac biscuits were largely sold at public events to raise funds to support the war effort. Today Anzac biscuits are still used as a fundraising effort for both Royal New Zealand Returned Services' Association (RSA) and the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL).

Below are some Anzac biscuit recipes from the 1930s and a modern recipe to try yourself!

Anzac Biscuit recipe, Patea Mail, 20 October 1930. Courtesy of Papers Past. Note the spelling of coconut.

Anzac Biscuit recipe, Northern Advocate, 4 July 1939. Courtesy of Papers Past.

Simple modern Anzac Biscuit recipe


1 cup rolled oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
125 g butter
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp boiling water


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan bake). Lightly grease 1-2 baking trays or line with baking paper.

2. In a large bowl, sift the flour. Stir in the rolled oats, coconut and sugar to combine. Make a well in the centre.

3. In a saucepan, melt the butter and golden syrup together.

4. Dissolve the baking soda in boiling water and then add to butter mixture.

5. Pour the butter mixture into the dry ingredient and mix to combine.

6. Roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls and place on the oven tray, allowing enough room for biscuits to spread while cooking. Press biscuits down lightly with a fork.

7. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 - 15 minutes, cooking one tray at a time. Remove to a wire rack to cool, and enjoy!

This recipe is simple because for the dry ingredients it follows the one cup rule - 1 cup rolled oats, one cup desiccated coconut, 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar. You may wish to get creative and add other ingredients, such as vanilla essence, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dried fruits (sultanas, cranberries etc).

This blog was written by Graeme. Thanks to Papers Past, The New Zealand Army Museum, Anzac Biscuits: the power and spirit of an everyday national icon by Allison Reynolds. Anzac Biscuit photographs taken by Graeme Cash.

Friday, 12 April 2019

Autumn 1960s Style

Rotorua Photo News, a few photo's of Autumn in Rotorua

April 1964 edition : 
First Rugby game of the season : Wasps v Harlequins was attended by 10,000 at Rugby Park. With fifteen All Blacks shared between the two teams.  The Score : Wasps 30,  Harlequins 22. 
Pg’s 6-10. & 60-61,66.

Rotorua Photo News, April 1964 - pg 6

Traffic was nose to tail... pg 66

Every Easter, local Jaycees pay a visit to the children's ward of Queen Elizabeth Hospital. And a few children get dressed for the occasion.

April 1966 edition:

Organised by Mike Molloy, National Menswear Week, took place with six male models parading the streets downtown in style, Telephone and public quiz shows and music from local pop group 'The Newcomers'. p.38-41

A few popular recipes to enjoy this Autumn.  From the W.D.F.F Cookery Book. 1965

From a cook book in my Mum's collection.

Brittany Tea Room Carrots

2 cups cubed carrot                        ¼ cup water
½ teaspoon sugar                           1 small onion
2 tablespoons oil                             1 ½ tablespoons flour
⅛ teaspoon pepper                         ½ teaspoon salt
1 cup strained tomato juice             Cayenne

Let carrots stand in salted water 10 minutes or more. Saute chopped onions and carrots in butter for 5 minutes. Add flour and seasoning, stir well, then add water and tomato juice. Put on fire and when it boils pour into baking dish or casserole and bake for 1 hour. Good warm oven. 

Autumn is also the time we commemorate the fallen, Lest We Forget 

Soldier at QE Spa : Photo by Alison Leigh.
This post compiled by Alison.

Friday, 5 April 2019


As we approach the season of Easter, I thought, what would we discover looking back at old papers of how Easter was celebrated here in Rotorua over the years?

17 April 1895 from the Hot Lakes Chronicle describes a Sunday School picnic held on Easter Monday by the Presbyterian church. The article talks of "an abundance of good things provided" but there's no specific mention of Easter Eggs, chocolate or the Easter Bunny.

Hot Lakes Chronicle 17 April 1895, p 2

As well as information about different services that would be held on the Good Friday and Easter Sunday, sporting events (such as the Yachting regatta) were announced, and notice of shop services alterations for the four days were advised in 1956. Mention is made of the availability in the shops of "Novelties...Easter eggs, bunnies and chickens for the children". More weight is given to the church services that will be held.

Daily Post 28 March 1956

Daily Post 28 March 1956

Following the Easter weekend of 1956, there was a description in the paper of packed churches and accounts of the different services held by the Presbyterian, Anglican and Catholic churches.

Daily Post 2 April 1956, p 1

In the Photo News of May 1965, there are photos of churches in a Procession of witness leading to a combined service. Was this part of the Easter or pre-Easter celebrations? If anyone should know, the library staff would love to hear from you.

Photo News 8 May 1965, p 7

The Easter Yachting Regatta is still going strong in 1965...

Photo News 8 May 1965

and there's now Powerboat Racing as well.

Photo News 8 May 1965

Easter treats in the form of Easter Eggs were delivered to children in the cerebral palsy unit of Queen Elizabeth Hospital hospital by the Easter bunny, courtesy of Jaycees.

Photo News  7 April 1967, p 19

An Easter tomb with the stone rolled away was constructed at the entrance to the Rotorua City Christian Fellowship, to remind people that "Easter is about the death and resurrection of Jesus"

Daily Post 2 April 1994, p 2

In 1995 children were read to by the Easter Bunny during a Library holiday programme.

Daily Post 12 April 1995, p 1

At Cantabria, residents got into the fun of making and decorating hats for the annual Easter bonnet parade.

Daily Post 13 April 1995, p 1

"Passion in the Park", a multi-denominational passion play was presented at the Lakefront in 1997. The previous year, the production was in the FRI grounds.

Daily Post 27 March 1997, p 2

By 1998, the Antiques fair was held  in Rotorua over Easter weekend, with lots of folks in attendance at the Rotorua Convention Centre.

Daily Post 14 April 1998, p 1

Not just the young received Easter goodies. The Rotorua Host Lions Club delivered Easter gifts of hot cross buns, sweets and fruit to residents of pensioner flats.

Daily Post 22 April 1998, p 9

At St Lukes Anglican church, Music for Passiontide was performed on Good Friday, while Destiny church also had an Easter production, Rezurrection Road on Easter Sunday.

Daily Post 11 April 2001, p 12

The Daily Post, on 24 April 2001, had a special lift-out, Te Arawa Day: a celebration of the tribe's blessing. The Easter Monday had been a special celebration day for iwi

Daily Post 24 April 2001

The Don Stafford Rooms holds the Photo News which can be freely viewed. Microfiche of old Daily Post newspapers may be also viewed on the 2nd floor. Library staff are happy to assist.
With thanks to the Daily Post and Photo News. This blog written by Trish.