13 / Gumboots

In addition to defeating Napoleon, the Duke of Wellington inspired a form of protective footwear known in England as Wellingtons, or wellies. Perhaps because New Zealand had already named its capital after the Duke, wellies became known here as gumboots. The name is short for gum Arabic – a rubbery substance exuded by trees. New Zealand’s first gumboots were imported, but from 1943 they were manufactured in Christchurch by Skellerup Industries Ltd. Although they are now made offshore, the company’s current gumboot range includes the Perth – the original tall farm boot – and the more recent shorter Red Band. The gumboot has been celebrated in song by Fred Dagg, and Taihape, our self-proclaimed Gumboot City, hosts an annual gumboot-throwing competition.


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