New Zealanders didn't invent sheep, although we would have if it weren't for the small stumbling block of them having already been invented. However sheep were brought to New Zealand early and eventually thrived (although the first sheep were two luckless Merino brought here by Cook in 1773, and dead by 1774). For most of our history, sheep formed the backbone of the New Zealand economy, the heart of our farming culture and the leg of our Sunday roasts. Say 'New Zealand' to a foreigner and chances are they'll say either 'hobbits' or 'sheep'.
But of course, despite the ready-made varieties of sheep available to us, and in the true spirit of Kiwi ingenuity, we decided to invent our own flavours to suit our own geography.
Geoffrey Sylvester Peren (b. 1892, d. 1980) of Massey University created the Perendale - a hardy, low maintenance kind of all-terrain sheep for either wool or meat production. The Drysdale sheep was originated by another Massey University staff member, Professor Francis W. Dry (b. 1891, d. 1979) who discovered the sheep gene that made the wool of some Romneys particularly coarse.
And New Zealand’s most successful sheep-invention is undoubtedly the Corriedale. The Corriedale is a large-framed, hornless sheep, with dark pigmented skin on nostrils and lips and a heavy fleece of long stapled, bulky wool (you know the one). The Corriedale was developed in New Zealand and Australia during the late 1800s by crossing Lincoln or Leicester rams with Merino females. The breed is now distributed worldwide, making up the greatest population of all sheep in South America and thrives throughout Asia, North America and South Africa.