Royal Visit of 1953-54

Page 5 – A pastoral paradise

A pastoral paradise

Following their stay in Auckland and visits to Waitangi, Hamilton and Rotorua, the Queen and Duke had a two-day break at Lake Rotoiti before flying to Gisborne and Napier. The theme for the next few days was the pastoral productivity of New Zealand. In Napier she was greeted with a two-mile-long avenue of flowers and a visit to McLean Park, where the highlight was a display of shearing by Ivan and Godfrey Bowen.

The next day the royal couple visited Wattie’s cannery in Hastings, the ‘fruit bowl of New Zealand’, before heading south by train to Palmerston North past orchards and sheep farms. Then it was on to southern Taranaki, where at Pātea she was greeted with a bank of hydrangeas 99 feet long and 6 feet high. The train passed through dairying country to New Plymouth, where the Queen and Duke visited a cooperative dairy factory.

The image the Queen was intended to see was of a rich and productive land. The bush – unspoilt nature – did not play a major part in the tour. New Zealand was presented as a land of gardens and farms. Although the Queen did visit factories - the Ford assembly line in Petone; Lane, Walker, Rudkin’s clothing factory in Christchurch; the Roslyn woollen mills in Dunedin - all but the Ford factory processed the fruits of the land. Urban culture, in the form of art galleries or museums, was not on the schedule, and in Auckland and Christchurch evening entertainment took the form of British films. Only in Dunedin was there any local high culture, with a concert by the National Orchestra. Even the food presented to Her Majesty emphasised New Zealand’s rural image rather than its people’s culinary skills - the standard fare was roast lamb with mint sauce, peas and new potatoes, followed by strawberries and cream.

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'A pastoral paradise', URL:, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 14-Sep-2022