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New Zealand Kiwiana

Updated on January 15, 2016

What is Kiwiana?

Some things are just essentially and uniquely Kiwi. Distinctive New Zealand objects and items are often described as 'kiwiana'. These are things such as the Buzzy Bee, Paua Shell and also include certain brands. "Quirky things that contribute to a sense of nationhood"

Te Ara (the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand) describes kiwiana as items of popular culture thought to be unique to New Zealand.

Photo Public Domain - Buzzy Bee


A mural featuring various items of Kiwiana in Otorohanga, New Zealand. Otorohanga has become known as Kiwiana Town

Photographed by DO'Neil.


It wouldn't be right not to start our journey into kiwiana without including the Kiwi Bird that gives us its name! The kiwi bird is one of the few flightless birds in the world. There are five recognised species, but sadly, two species are vulnerable and one is endangered.

New Zealanders tend to be called kiwis when travelling and some call kiwifruit plain kiwi. But a kiwi is that little vulnerable and cute nocturnal bird...

Kiwi seen at Kiwi Encounter - Rainbow Gardens
Kiwi seen at Kiwi Encounter - Rainbow Gardens | Source

Very few native animals hunt the kiwi as prey but unfortunately introduced species such as dogs, cats, rats to name a few are a threat to this cute little bird.

As the birds do not fly they don't have feathers but they have down-like hairs on their body. The birds have a fat body and a small head in comparison and they have a long beak. Kiwis have a great sense of smell and they find their food by getting into small cracks and crevices on trees and rocks.

Kiwis are rarely seen in the wild because of their keen sense of hearing and are very fast runners. They will run and hide from perceived human threat.

Females lay only one egg each season and this is nearly the size of the bird itself. The male kiwi is the one that sits on the egg until it hatches. Babies have fuzzy hair when new born and tend to look larger than they are. (Perhaps you can see a resemblance to the kiwi fruit?)

Kiwi Encounter are doing a marvellous job of rearing kiwis in captivity. Tara Hunt has taken a picture of the Kiwi Bird at this very venue. You can find their link below.

Paua Shell

Paua shell
Paua shell | Source

Paua shell has gorgeous colors and is made up in all sorts of jewellery and souvenir items. Paua is the Maori name for what is known as Abalone in other parts of the world.

Fred and Myrtle Flutey's Paua Shell Home - Originally in Bluff, Southland.

Paua shell house
Paua shell house | Source

Fred and Myrtle Flutey lived in Bluff in a house covered in paua shells! Their house was visited by many thousands of tourists through the years and the Flutey's even starred in a television ad. They welcomed all into their home! Each of the paua shells was polished by Fred and placed on the wall. The picture above shows a photograph of Fred and Myrtle standing outside their home.

Fred Flutey died on New Year's Eve 2001 and Myrtle Flutey died in May 2000. In early 2007 the news that the late Flutey's home was to be recreated in Canterbury Museum stirred a lot of interest in kiwiana. The lounge, entrance and driveway were re-created in the museum and in 2008 it was opened to the public.

Unfortunately since the earthquakes in Canterbury part of the Museum has been closed to the public as it is currently housing the administrative staff. I have been assured that the replica house suffered minimal damage in the quakes but is in the closed section of the museum.

Listen to what the kids say kiwiana is to them! Fred and Myrtle Flutey were true Kiwi icons!

Pavlova Cake

Pavlova - The Trans Tasman Debate


Australians and New Zealanders have long debated which country invented the pavlova . The pavlova is a large meringue dessert cake said to imitate the lightness of the famous ballerina, Anna Pavlova.

Photo Credit

The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand's Culinary History
The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand's Culinary History

More than just a recipe book this is the story of the pavlova by Helen Leach, it is the real story of the ballerina's visit to the Antipodes and the appearance of three different pavlovas. The contributions of a gelatine manufacturer, a Dunedin spinster, and numerous other New Zealand housewives are all revealed in this fascinating contribution to food history.


Get in the Debate!

Where do you think the Pavlova Cake comes from?

A recipe from the Edmonds Best of Baking.

Serving Size

Serves: 6


  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Edmond's cornflour
  • whipped cream
  • fresh berries and kiwi fruit to garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and castor sugar for 10 - 15 minutes or until thick and glossy. Mix vinegar, essence and cornflour together. Add to meringue. Beat on high speed for a further 5 minutes. Line an oven tray with baking paper. Draw a 22 cm circle on the baking paper. Spread the pavlova to within 2 cm of the edge of the circle, keeping the shape as round and even as possible. Smooth top surface. Place pavlova in preheated oven then turn oven temperature down to 100deg C. Bake pavlova for 1 hour. Turn off oven. Open oven door slightly and leave pavlova in oven until cold. Carefully lift pavlova onto a serving plate. Decorate with whipped cream, fresh berries and kiwi fruit.
3 stars from 1 rating of Pavlova

A recipe book covering many delicious versions and adaptations of the pavlova cake as we know it. I love the sound of the Triple Chocolate Pavlova and can't wait to give it a try! Or how about Brown Sugar and Lime Pavlova? There's sure to be something to tickle your fancy!


Do you make Pavlova?

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Buzzy Bee

Buzzy Bee
Buzzy Bee

Photo Public Domain - Buzzy Bee

Although the exact origin of the Buzzy Bee is a little unclear it appears that the first Buzzy Bee was created by Maurice Scheslinger in the late 1930's in his small Auckland workshop. There are a few versions throughout its history but Mr Scheslinger's version is similar to the toy that is popular today. By the early 1940's Mr Scheslinger became seriously ill and was forced to close his workshop. The appeal of the little wooden bee was so great that Hector Ramsay, who had been a salesman involved in distribution of the toys, took the Buzzy Bee to his brother who had a wood turning business in Auckland. The Buzzy Bee was reborn and continues today. Following several changes in ownership Lion Rock Ventures purchased the Trade Mark in 2004. They remain the current owners.

As a toddler, Prince William, was the recipient of a Buzzy Bee when he travelled to New Zealand in 1983 with Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

Sadly, like so many other items these days, Buzzy Bee is now made in China!

The Silver Fern and the Koru

Air New Zealand with silver fern and koru
Air New Zealand with silver fern and koru | Source
The frond of a silver fern unfurls ~ a koru
The frond of a silver fern unfurls ~ a koru

The Meaning of the Koru

The National airline Air New Zealand has the koru as its symbol on the tail of all its aircraft. This particular plane also has the silver fern emblazoned on the side.

The koru is significant in Maori design and is often used in their artwork. The koru is based on the New Zealand silver fern...the young fronds unfurling. The circular shape is a symbol of creation and conveys the idea of perpetual movement. The inner coil suggests a return to the point of origin.

Tree fern
Tree fern

The Tree Fern - The Silver Fern

The Ponga Tree Fern has the silver leaf that is an emblem of New Zealand. The gently unfurling new leaves form the Koru which Air New Zealand use as their emblem.

The Silver Fern is well known in the sporting world and sports teams, such as our netball players, have even adopted the name of the Silver Fern.

The All Blacks, New Zealand's famous rugby team, have a silver fern on their outfit.

This photo was taken in my friend's garden.


Jandals | Source

Jandals are the footwear that is a must-have accessory for any Kiwi's wardrobe. The name jandals is a blend of the words Japanese and sandals. It is actually a trademark of the New Zealand Skellerup company which is one of the earliest manufacturers of the modern design. The trademark means the name jandal is rarely used outside of New Zealand

This type of footwear are also popular around the world under different names. They are known as ojotas in Argentina, infraditi in Italy and as slippers in the Netherlands and Hawaii. In the Philippines, they are called tsinelas. And the British and Americans call them flip-flops, while the Australians call them thongs. I seem to remember them being called slops in Africa.

Do you wear Jandals, Flip Flops or whatever you like to call them?

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Edmonds: Sure to Rise

Sure to Rise
Sure to Rise | Source

In 1879, a young 20-year-old Thomas Edmonds arrived in Lyttelton and set up a grocer’s store. He experimented with making baking powder when his customers complained that the baking powder they were using was unreliable. He sold the first batch of tins to his customers telling them that their baking was ‘sure to rise’. It was a great success with the local housewives and the baking powder with the distinctive rising sun logo was bound for success.

The first edition of the cookbook was produced in 1907 and recipe books continue to be published, including a microwave version. In fact two are shown in the photo I have taken here. Thomas Edmonds contributed significantly to the architectural history of Christchurch after the founding of the Edmonds Factory and Gardens in Ferry Road.

Edmond's Sure to Rise Cookery Book (100 Year Edition 1908-2008)
Edmond's Sure to Rise Cookery Book (100 Year Edition 1908-2008)

A recipe book with cookies, slices, breads, pies and more. The recipes are always reliable, economical and easy to prepare. Old tried and true recipes with new additions.

The ring binder makes the recipes easy to read when on the bench top. You can cover with some plastic to keep it clean!



kiwifruit | Source

Also known as the Chinese gooseberry, the kiwifruit was renamed for export marketing reasons in the 1950s. The brown furry skin resembles the kiwi bird. The fruit is green inside with black seeds. It has a unique flavour and is widely recognised worldwide. Other countries now grow the fruit for export.

Kiwifruit are high in potassium, vitamin E and C and fibre. They a rich source of antioxidants and have a low Gi making them a healthy choice in any fruit bowl or lunch box.

Do you like Kiwifruit?

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Please let me know you dropped by! - Add your comments...

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    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love New Zealand and wish to be back there.

    • pochi123 profile image


      5 years ago

      NZ is a beautiful country and is one of my favourite place. Also my daughter and her family lives there. :))

    • LynetteBell profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      @GardenerDon: I'm not sure when it was painted...something for you to watch out for on your next visit perhaps!

    • GardenerDon profile image

      Gardener Don 

      6 years ago

      The mural of Kiwiana in Otorohanga must be fairly recent. I lived there 25 years ago & return every year or so, but can't remember seeing it.

    • BlogsWriter profile image


      6 years ago

      Loved to learn about Kiwiana and the Kiwi bird, very interesting.

    • AshleyCarew1 profile image


      6 years ago

      NZ is one of my favourite places!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks for stopping to look at my lenses

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      great lens

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image


      6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Really fascinating. I didn't know there was such a thing as Kiwiana. So interesting to learn about things that are native to New Zealand.

    • WebMarketingPro profile image


      6 years ago

      Really enjoyed this lens! Thanks so much! The kiwi image was particularly cute, and I'm now going to try to make a Pavlova :)

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 

      6 years ago from Shanghai, China

      How wonderful! I enjoyed getting to know these special Kiwianas. Each one is a treasure, and you did a wonderful job introducing them. Blessings!

    • anne mohanraj profile image

      anne mohanraj 

      6 years ago

      A very informative and interesting lens!

    • writerkath profile image


      6 years ago

      I love New Zealand so very much... You did a wonderful job on this lens! :) Squid Blessed!

    • Rosaquid profile image


      6 years ago

      The kiwi bird is darling. So is the Buzzy Bee. New Zealand sound charming. I'll be making the Pavlova soon!

    • mysweetjane lm profile image

      mysweetjane lm 

      6 years ago

      lol had no idea you guys called thongs jandals! What a cute lens - love that mural on the building (gorgeous!)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image


      6 years ago

      Learned some new stuff here. Thanks!

    • BestRatedStuff profile image


      6 years ago

      Most interesting, loved finding out about kiwiana.

    • catmaxx profile image

      Terry Lomax 

      6 years ago from Rep. of Ireland

      Visited Wellington New Zealand many years ago when in the Royal Navy, beautiful country, love the Kiwis and Maoris.

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 

      6 years ago

      Very interesting! Thanks for sharing

    • nicks44 profile image


      6 years ago

      Cool stuff, thanks a lot for sharing! I really enjoyed the kiwi dish :) Very greenish!

    • RestlessKnights profile image


      6 years ago

      New Zealand, the land of my dreams! Thanks for this lens.

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 

      6 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      I love New Zealand, and pavlova and all things Kiwi. Nice lens that reminded me of fun times I had when visiting there.

    • JohnTannahill profile image

      John Tannahill 

      6 years ago from Somewhere in England

      I though Pavlova had something to do with a man with a dog. I have certainly learned something new today. Also, I didn't know Kiwi birds were so cute.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thanks so much for sharing this with us here! Thanks for sharing - blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • bluewren56 lm profile image

      bluewren56 lm 

      6 years ago

      While visiting New Zealand last, I bought some beautiful ear-rings made out of paua shells. They're beautiful. Great lens.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Never heard of the term Kiwiana. Thanks for teaching me.

    • whats4dinner profile image


      6 years ago

      New Zealand is one of the places I would love to go to.

    • SheilaMilne profile image


      6 years ago from Kent, UK

      I'd be surprised if I managed to do it now, but I've always wanted to visit New Zealand.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      6 years ago from New Zealand

      Well done!! And what fun. Thanks for featuring our Pavlova debate. Love your choices for the page, all great Kiwiana! Blessed by a Squidoo Angel.


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