Kiwiana Town | The Kiwiana capital of the world! | School Milk
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School Milk


Free Milk Every Morning

Young New Zealanders once lined up for a free bottle of milk at school every morning. This scheme was introduced in 1937 to help children who had become undernourished during the Depression. It was also enthusiastically supported by famous dramatist, George Bernard Shaw, when he visited this country in 1934. And so, for the next 30 years, school children sat down for their daily half-pint. Crates of bottles were carried into the classroom by official milk monitors, who were also responsible for collecting up the empties after the session. Occasionally, an older amber glass bottle would arrive with the morning delivery and prove an attraction for keen consumers.

School milk bottles in the 1950s had cardboard tops which had a small hole for the straw and were often put to further use. Lengths of colourful wool were wound tightly around a pair of these cardboard discs to produce a decorative pom-pom.

In the 1960s 3,500,000 gallons of milk was distributed to the schools of New Zealand each year, but the value of the scheme was now being questioned. There were mixed views on the matter; some felt it had become unnecessary and was a disruption to the class, while others claimed that a number of New Zealand children still came to school without an adequate breakfast. Nevertheless, in 1967 the scheme was abolished and so the country’s milk monitors became redundant.

The Biggest Name in Butter

The cows of New Zealand have also produced the raw material for one of this country’s best known and oldest trademarks. When Henry Reynolds emigrated here from Cornwall, England in the 1880s, he took up dairy farming in the Waikato. He churned his first butter in 1886 and gave it the name Anchor, allegedly inspired by the tattoo worn by one of his workers. Reynolds later sold his business and it became part of the New Zealand Dairy Company. It exported dairy products to Britain and in 1924 introduced the first Anchor butter pack. By the 1960s Anchor was the biggest selling butter in that country. It remains Britain’s leading brand today, continuing to fly the flag for the New Zealand dairy industry.