Certain items and icons from New Zealand's cultural heritage are often called Kiwiana.


The word Ana originated in 1956. It was registered as a trademark in 1980, but the originator did not complete the registration which left the name to become available for general use in New Zealand.

Items of kiwiana are generally those which are either unique to or particularly common to New Zealand, particularly from the early and mid twentieth century. Although the term is sometimes used to describe any and all New Zealand icons, it is more commonly used to describe pop culture items such as toys or branded foods. A few more serious national icons have become kiwiana through heavy use in advertising and the souvenir industry. These include the kiwi and the hei-tiki. Kiwiana is generally seen as a form of kitsch.

Kiwiana may be the result of the high regulation of New Zealand's economy during that period. Tariffs and other methods encouraged local manufacture rather than imports, which meant that New Zealand was less exposed to consumer goods from other parts of the world than it is now. The trade policy may also have led to the creation of products specifically for the New Zealand market.

A number of products widely regarded as kiwiana, such as Weet-Bix, Watties tomato sauce, Marmite and L&P, are made by non-New Zealand companies. In some cases this is because the original New Zealand company has been purchased by an overseas corporation, in others the product has always been made by an international firm. A number of companies with products deemed to be 'kiwiana' have enthusiastically cashed in on this. For example a Watties advertising campaign has claimed that "you'll never be a Kiwi 'til you love your Watties sauce", even though the company is now American-owned, and a Sanitarium campaign in the 1990s claimed that "Kiwi kids are Weet-Bix kids". The advertisement was a dubbed version of an Australian advertisement which claimed that 'Aussie kids are Weet-bix kids' and the landscape in the background of the advertisement is recognisably Australian. Other companies have attempted to create their own Kiwiana. For example McDonalds had a 'Kiwiburger' which was an attempt to duplicate a type of burger commonly sold in New Zealand takeaway shops. Its main distinguishing feature was a slice of beetroot, and its advertisement was essentially a sung list of kiwiana items. A series of L&P commercials, featuring Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords, are based around Kiwiana themed items, and were very popular with New Zealanders.

In recent decades kiwiana has become a subject in itself, and several celebratory books have been published. A range of products using kiwiana motifs have also been produced, including Christmas tree decorations, cards, t-shirts, garden ornaments and jewelry. There are Kiwiana sections in many New Zealand museums, and some are dedicated to showing Kiwiana only. In 1994, New Zealand Post released a set of stamps depicting kiwiana items including a pavlova, fish and chips, rugby boots and ball, and a black singlet and gumboots.

Well-known kiwiana

  • All Blacks — national Rugby Union team.
  • Black Singlet — worn by many farmers, shearers as well as representative athletes.
  • Buzzy Bee — wooden child's toy.
  • Chocolate fish — confection of marshmallow covered in chocolate, in the shape of a fish.
  • Claytons — originally a non alcoholic spirit, advertised as The drink you have when you're not having a drink, that did not gain market acceptance; now refers to any form of inferior substitute. This term is primarily used among those generations old enough to remember the original drink.
  • Edmonds 'Sure to Rise' Baking Powder, the distinctive Edmonds factory (demolished in the late 1980s), and the Edmonds Cookbook.
  • Footrot Flats — popular cartoon strip by Murray Ball.
  • Gumboots, calf length rubber boots (also known as the Wellington boot or wellie.)
  • Hei-tiki — Māori neck pendant. Tourist variety in green plastic are the definitively tasteless depths of kiwiana.
  • Hokey pokey ice-cream - plain vanilla ice cream with added small, solid lumps of toffee.
  • Jandals — beach footwear with a bit of sole but very little else. AKA flip-flops (USA), thongs (Australia).
  • Kiwi — native bird; its stylised image or shape frequently appears on things associated with New Zealand.
  • Kiwifruit — fruit from a vine originating in China but selectively bred by New Zealand horticulturalists to obtain egg-sized fruit with green or gold flesh. In New Zealand it was originally called "Chinese gooseberry".
  • L&P — Lemon & Paeroa, a popular soft drink.
  • Marmite - a dark and salty spread made from yeast extract, similar to Vegemite. New Zealand Marmite is distinct from British Marmite, in taste and recipe. Marmite is made in New Zealand, as opposed to Vegemite, which is made in Australia.(Much debated, the packaging shows it as the other way around)
  • Paua — the polished shell of the native paua (abalone) shellfish, turned into jewellery and souvenirs. Once considered kitsch, it is starting to regain its popularity.
  • Pavlova — a light and fluffy meringue dessert named after the ballet dancer, Anna Pavlova
  • Silver fern — native plant; its stylised image or shape is displayed by many of the national sports teams.
  • Stubbies — a particular brand of walk shorts that were popular in the 70's. Always seemed to be a size too small for the wearer but were beloved by men from many walks of life.
  • Tip-Top ice cream.
  • Watties tomato sauce.
  • Four Square supermarkets - Especially Mr Four Square, the marketing logo.

Further reading

  • Stephen Barnett and Richard Wolfe (1989), New Zealand! New Zealand! in praise of Kiwiana.
  • David McGill (2000), Good old Kiwi identities: the folk who put the kiwi in kiwiana.
  • Richard Wolfe and Stephen Barnett (2001), Kiwiana! the sequel.

Mount Taranaki


External links

Search another word or see kiwianaon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature