The invention of refrigeration saved the New Zealand farming industry from economic depression in the 1880s. Formerly dependent on the sale of wool and hides, farmers welcomed refrigerated vessels that made it possible to export meat as well.
The first shipment left Port Chalmers for Britain aboard the Dunedin on February 14th 1888. The shipment was arranged by Thomas Brydone of the New Zealand and Australia Land Company, who had nearly 5,000 sheep slaughtered at its North Otago property in Totara. The Totara homestead is now a national historic place.