Haere ra Mr Verkerk and reminiscence of growing up

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Haere ra Mr Verkerk and reminiscence of the growing up.

I grew up in Tawa in 1970s. As I have alluded, my mother was a woman of her generation. This meant meat and three veg for dinner. However she was willing to take risks and experiment. This meant the pineapple phase occurred. Many stewed dishes could be made exotic with tinned pineapple.

One thing we knew about in our household was when Aunty Beryl was coming to stay. Half a pig’s head would appear in the kitchen. It was time to make brawn. Mum made brawn with lots of aspic. I grew up in family were you had to eat everything on your plate. As kids we hated brawn. There were five kids in our family; we had an extending dining table. This meant there were rails underneath where the extension slid along. These ledges were a good spot for hiding the brawn. It would be collected after the meal and tossed over the
fence onto the neighbour’s bank.

If there were seconds they went to the person who finished first, I can out eat nearly everybody when it comes to speed due to this practice. Now I have a family of my own I find this way of operating quite peculiar. As my youngest sister says; “How was she supposed to get seconds, I was seven years younger.”  A five year against a twelve year old, no contest. A ten year old against a seventeen year old, still no contest.


My mother also did not let any of her children cook at home.  I left home with minimal cooking skills. We were however experts at cleaning up and doing the dishes.

I used to go tramping with my mates. We would go the supermarket to buy food for the trip. Dave was more worldly than I, he used to say why don’t we buy salami. So we did. This was a new culinary experience for me. I liked it, it was something different to eat, looking back on it, it was my first exposure to salami and more exotic sausages.    

This brings me to the point of this posting.

In Saturday’s Dominion Post the obituary of Aalt Verkerk appeared.  He was aged 89. Verkerk’s salami and smallgoods have been made in Christchurch, New Zealand for decades. He arrived in NZ in 1952 from the Netherlands, worked as a butcher and then started his own business. This business now employs 200 people. The salami range in Woolworth’s Supermarket in Tawa in the late seventies was not large. Verkerk’s salami was
the stock salami. So it was sad to read of the founder of the company death, however his contribution to NZ’s barren cuisine of 1970s suburbia is appreciated.

We always have a salami hanging in the pantry. The one
hanging there at the moment is a Verkerk’s salami.
So haere ra Mr Verkerk thanks for your salami. 

2 Responses

  1. Steved

    Verkerks mild hungarian salami seems ok to me but is rejected by the hungarian i know best. The ingredients list on the packet is not clear about what meats are used either.

    • Don Stevens

      Thanks for the comment: When you are growing up in Tawa in the 1970s Verkerk’s products were exotic foods. As New Zealand’s culinary horizons widen, I can understand why the Hungarian you know best rejected the products. There are better salamis and sausages available.

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