Under British settlement, New Zealand’s export income became increasingly dependent upon new and improved pasture for sheep and cattle. While the introduction of familiar pasture plants--such as ryegrass and cocksfoot--was preferred, from the 1880s farmers also experimented with different grass species to suit newly experienced environmental conditions. Both Chewings fescue (Festuca rubra var. commutata) and paspalum (Paspalum dilatatum) were experimented with and adopted for pasture up to the 1920s. While the discovery of ecological limits partly determined the chain of events, the story of these adoptions equally reflects the influence of human and social factors upon the pattern of agricultural change. Individuals and newspapers were more integral to the process of investigating the uses of Chewings fescue and paspalum than departments and government reports. This case study emphasizes Australian and American influences more than British ones, which necessitates the reassessment of all external knowledge in the light of New Zealand’s experience.