Come along to Victoria's Butcher Shop Series

Butcher Shop Series

In these four lively discussions, we explored how meat, wine, dairy and wool influence our social and cultural—as well as economic—life.

Is New Zealand a butcher shop or a milking shed? Do we live on the sheep’s back with our glass of sauvignon blanc? New Zealand’s long dependence on primary products has had a profound effect on our national imagination.

In May 2017, Victoria University’s ‘Enriching national culture’ theme hosted a series of public discussions on the culture surrounding four of this country’s primary products: meat, wine, dairy and wool. Below, you can watch the discussions on YouTube or listen to RNZ’s recordings of them.

The title of the series, ‘The Butcher Shop’, evokes the presence of our frozen lamb in British high streets for more than a century. It is borrowed from Jean Devanny’s 1926 novel, which was reviled and banned on publication for its controversially raw depiction of New Zealand farm life.


Since the 1890s we have been the land of frozen meat. The Sunday roast, the barbeque steak, spring lamb—meat has been everywhere. What is our relationship to it and how do we think about it in the twenty-first century?

Featuring panellists Associate Professor Roger Blackley, Victoria University of Wellington art historian; Kiritapu Allan, Kahui Legal lawyer; and Ashleigh Young, award-winning essayist (and vegetarian). Chaired by playwright and Dominion Post columnist Dave Armstrong.


From beer swillers to wine sippers—is the change in our drinking habits the real revolution in New Zealand?

Featuring panellists Neil McCallum, founder of Dry River Wines; John Saker, wine writer and author of How to Drink a Glass of Wine and Pinot Noir: The New Zealand Story; and Professor Susy Frankel, Chair in Intellectual Property and International Trade at Victoria University of Wellington. Chaired by RNZ National presenter Kim Hill.


Milk in schools, dying waterways, trusted baby formula and the Anchor family—what does dairy mean to us and to twenty-first century Chinese consumers?

Featuring panellists Roy Meares, creator of 1980s/90s Anchor family advertisements; Dr Jason Young, Senior Lecturer in Political Science and International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington and Acting Director of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre; and Tim Mackle, Chief Executive, DairyNZ. Chaired by lawyer and commentator Linda Clark.


Sheep numbers may be plummeting but wool is passing muster in the world of high fashion.

Featuring panellists Claire Regnault, Senior Curator New Zealand History & Culture, specialising in fashion, at Te Papa Tongarewa; Mavis Mullins, Rangitāne, business leader, shearing contractor and recently inducted into the New Zealand Business Hall of Fame; and Rachel Easting and Anjali Stewart, founders of clothing label twenty-seven names. Chaired by Simon Morton, presenter of RNZ National’s This Way Up.