RETRO PAST

Pic­nick­ing of the past

NZ Life & Leisure - - News - WORDS CHRIS­TINE FERN Y HOUGH

A PIC­NIC IS STILL the most de­light­ful of all the sim­pler forms of re­cre­ation, and New Zealand has long been the land of them. In­for­mal, out­door fun cen­tred very of­ten around wa­ter, with fam­i­lies go­ing to sit be­side the sea, rivers, lakes, scenic re­serves or into the moun­tains. When wartime petrol and travel re­stric­tions were lifted, to­gether with the in­creased own­er­ship of cars and lit­tle to do on the week­ends, fam­i­lies went on drives that very of­ten ended in a pic­nic.

In colo­nial days, green saplings were used to sus­pend the billy over an open fire. Next came the ther­mette, in­vented in New Zealand in the 1930s, then the ther­mos, which was mostly im­ported from Bri­tain and al­lowed pic­nick­ers to have hot drinks with­out a fire. The chilly bin, which ar­rived in the 1960s, kept the beer and the Fanta cold, the sand­wiches from curl­ing, and the ic­ing from melt­ing.

About this time, a plethora of pic­nic sets also came onto the mar­ket. Gone were the odd pieces of china – chipped, cracked and miss­matched – the Mar­mite jars, the table­cloth jammed inside the hand­wo­ven bas­ket. Table­cloths were soon re­placed by woollen rugs from New Zealand’s many woollen mills, of­ten fea­tur­ing ver­sions of Māori pat­terns.

The English-made Nally Ware Tea Set of­fered New Zealand pic­nick­ers bright red plas­tic cups and curved saucers, neatly con­tained in a card­board box pic­tur­ing well-man­nered nu­clear fam­i­lies en­joy­ing leisure time to­gether by the sea, on the golf course or in the coun­try­side.

Lus­troware, man­u­fac­tured by Op­to­plast in Welling­ton, ad­ver­tised its party pack as a must for bar­be­cues, beach par­ties, garden par­ties and all out­door oc­ca­sions, but it was clearly not in­tended for fam­i­lies. Breakre­sis­tant mugs de­picted sil­hou­ettes of shapely, pranc­ing, bikini-clad women and equally fit-look­ing chaps stand­ing arms akimbo along­side their surf boards. Th­ese were pack­aged along­side ruby red wine glasses that in turn sur­rounded a jig­ger, mea­sur­ing one fluid ounce for whisky and other such bev­er­ages.

The Mu­seum of the Ev­ery­day is the coun­try’s lead­ing col­lec­tion of day-to­day things from the past cen­tury. See more at ehive.com

A whole­some fam­ily pic­nic cour­tesy of Brit com­pany Nally Ware. (Be­low) A Lus­to­ware drinks set, made in Welling­ton, and a rather saucy col­lec­tion for the times.

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