"bowser" and "scull" in New Zealand English


I was watching a New Zealand programme called "Predict My Future - The Science Of Us" and a New Zealeander in the show said the following sentence:
"I helped myself to the bowsers and just was sculling under the taps and ended up having an altercation with the barman."

I checked on wikitionary that "bowser" and "scull" means "A fuel metering/delivery pump at a filling station" and "drink" respectively. But it seems to be that "bowser" here refers to a bar (or some facilities in it) rather than a filling station, because there is the presence of a barman, and that guy seems to mean that he was drinking from something like a beer tap, but I am not sure. Do New Zealanders refer a bar/pub as a "bowser"? Or does "sculling" have another meaning here?
  • kamabalagi

    New Zealand English
    In New Zealand (and I think Australian) English, to scull (back) means to drink the entire contents of a drinking vessel without pausing, or to drink a large quantity of liquid at one time in gulps. So, sculling a bottle of beer means to drink all the beer in the bottle in one go. When someone is doing this act, it's common for people around them to chant "skull! skull! skull!". In other countries, similar terms may be, chugging (down), downing, slamming (back), necking, knocking back, guzzling (down), etc.

    As for bowser, I haven't heard this word before apart from the name of the video game character from Super Mario Bros.

    In a Google search, I came across an article from a New Zealand news site and a Wiktionary entry. They say that bowser is a word used by older generations to refer to a petrol pump, petrol station or mobile fuel-storage tanks. However, no mention of beer taps.

    Bowser comes from Mr Sylvanus Bowser, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA, who invented the first fuel pump, which he described as "a self-measuring gasoline storage pump". So, I assume that "the bowsers" he's talking about would be the part of the bar where the beer taps are. Likening the taps, kegs and tubes that connect them together, to fuel pumps. This may be slang used by him, or in his local area or social circle, but it's not in national widespread usage as far as I can tell.

    EDIT: I asked my 71 year old mother if she knew what bowser meant and she said it's what they used to call a petrol pump, like "I'm gonna take my car down to the bowser", but she said she's never heard it used for beer taps or alcohol before.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - England
    "I helped myself to the bowsers and just was sculling under the taps and ended up having an altercation with the barman."
    With the help of kamabalagi above, this then appears to mean

    "I used the beer pumps without anyone's permission and I was drinking down the beer directly from the taps and ended up having an argument with the barman."