New Zealand Colloquialisms and Kiwi Slang, Today "Bring a Plate"

Photo of food on a table

Today we begin a short series of blog posts on New Zealand Colloquialisms and Kiwi Slang. In particular their origins and meaning (we are not setting ourselves up as experts, just sharing things we found entertaining and fun). While our iconic calendars and cards and other photo presentations give a view of New Zealander’s hidden corners there are other Kiwiana  (for want of a better word) which visitors to New Zealand or Kiwis might find interesting.

When Jennifer first arrived in New Zealand curious neighbours might throw a party and she would be invited to attend and “to bring a plate.”  Her first reaction was to think she may have over-estimated her neighbour’s economic capabilities and to arrive at the party with a bottle and two best dinner plates.  Little did she know that her hosts were expecting the plates to be filled with edible goodies such as sandwiches, sausage rolls or the ubiquitous asparagus rolls! 

This habit or turn of phrase is thought to have originated in New Zealand early days (19th or 20th century) when individual homesteads were miles (or kilometres) apart and families only met for special occasions such as marriages, deaths, barn raising and cattle sales.  A meal of some sort was an expected part of such proceedings and housewives would value the chance to show off their speciality, a special sort of bread or pie or cold meats.

These gatherings were community affairs with no special hosts or guests.  Somehow the practice of bringing food to a social gathering has morphed into the expectations that guests will instead of perhaps offering up entertainment at a party that they will “bring a plate of food.”

Somewhere along the way the “bring a plate of food” became just ”bring a plate”.

Guest blogger - Susan Hammond

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