There is many a story or legend about the infamous haggis. Some say it is a bird, some say it is an animal that has legs on one side of its body longer or shorter than the other side, so that when it is running around a hill and is frightened, it turns and falls and rolls down the hillside so that people can catch it easier. All of these stories originated in Scotland, but with regards to the New Zealand raised haggis, here are the ‘FACTS'...
The New Zealand Haggis originated from the original Scottish stock that migrated here in the 1800's. Adapting to a different climate and vegetation, the Haggis flourished well in its new home, but kept many of its ancestral features. However, grazing on N.Z. vegetation has resulted, some say, in a more superior flavoured table beastie.
The Haggis originally bred on the slopes of Mt. Victoria in the suburb of Devonport, Auckland City (an early European settlement), and grazed mainly on kikuyu grass, bracken and the odd bit of tourist litter.
In late 1998 we introduced this wonderful versatile beastie to the Wellsford district where it has naturalized very well, especially in the Tomarata/Te aria areas. As with Schootis legend many methods of snaring or catching the Haggis are used. These beasties are mainly hunted on 30th February each year when it is more easily observed above ground. Once it is caught it is either killed and dressed, (or undressed as the case may be), for the table, or it is kept under peoples dwellings until required.
Large Haggis are normally used for ceremonial functions. A man dressed in full Highland Regalia will mutter a few words over it before toasting it with a fine malt whisky. It, the Haggis, is then served to the gathering with neeps (mashed swede turnip) and tatties (mashed or bashed potato).
Mystery: Why do so many people outside Scotland regard the haggis as an uncivilized dish and the sausage as a civilized one?
The first haggis prepared and eaten in New Zealand was on 9th March 1770 on board Captain Cooks's ship.The Endeavour which was anchored off the south side of Stewart Island and the haggis was made to celebrate the birthday of a young Scottish Officer on board the vessel. (Captain James Cook's father was also Scottish).
When you are heating a haggis, take heed of the poem:
"The Haggis is a funny Beast
To make it, strong men toil
But in cooking, it is delicate
NEVER should it boil.
It'll sit at "sub-boiling"
For the best part of a day
Until the time arrives at last
To carry it on a tray.
So people, please take note and
Do not fiddle with the knob
I set the dial earlier
I've heated many, I know my job.
If you turn the dial or poke the beast
Thinking you're one of the testers
I'll use my sword and send you off
To meet all your ancestors."
Click below to read poem
To A Haggis - By Robbie Burns
Toast tae Robbie Burns - Written by Stewart Archibald of Ballater, Scotland