61 / Fred Dagg

For those unfamiliar with farming vernacular, a dag refers to the dung that gets caught in the wool on the back end of a sheep. Many a New Zealand child has been mustered with the parental cry ‘rattle your dags!’, meaning ‘get a wriggle on!’. Kiwi slang also uses the term ‘dag’ affectionately, to describe someone who is a bit of a laugh. Fred Dagg, the stereo-typical New Zealand farmer and creation of John Clarke (1948–), first appeared in 1975. In his mismatched gumboots and black singlet, the comical Dagg quickly became a household name, and was usually found in the company of other rural types, all named Trev. A master of the understatement, he enriched the language with such expressions as ‘That’ll be the door’ and ‘Get in behind’. He recorded the popular singles ‘We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are’ and ‘Gumboots’ – the latter based on Billy Connolly’s ‘If It Wasna For Your Wellies’ – and the best-selling album Fred Dagg’s Greatest Hits. In 1979, Clarke moved to Australia, where he established himself as a top TV personality and political satirist. In 2002 he donated Fred Dagg’s gumboots to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.


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