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Three kinds of Kiwi

April 27, 2010

I was staring at a bowl of dried kiwi earlier today, not a very tasty bowl of kiwi, a little overdone with the sugar, and I started thinking about kiwi, the types of kiwi out there: fruit, bird, people. Funny how a nickname comes about and sticks. Much like the sugar on the dried kiwi.

Kiwi – fruit

If you ever decide to go into a food store in New Zealand and ask for some kiwi, you will get a blank stare in return. Possibly the person doing the staring will be thinking about your IQ level because kiwi to New Zealanders means various things.

Kiwi to the rest of the world is kiwifruit in New Zealand. Green, tangy, covered in brown fur, kiwi is a fruit that — personally — should be left on the tree and never exposed to any sort of food group or mouth.  Of course I’m one of the oddballs who have never cared for the furry sharp tasting dry-flesh fruit mainly because I couldn’t be bothered using a spoon to eat the flesh.

Up to the 1980s, kiwifruit was known as Chinese gooseberry a much smaller and sweeter variety than the New Zealand one. In that time some clever person crafted a new genus which became widely known as kiwifruit and the world was introduced to a new kind of fruit with its capital residing in a small wayward place called Te Puke.

Sadly kiwi to some people means only the fruit and nothing more.

by Cate

Kiwi – bird

With its long beak, brown fur like feathers and nocturnal habits, the flightless kiwi is rarely seen in public, preferring to lie low in a hole somewhere quietly waiting for darkness. The only time I have seen kiwi in real life is in a dark cave-like environment where I had to stand quiet and wait for what seemed like ever so my eyes could adjust to the low light. Then I made out a silhouette moving carefully around within a protective enclosure.

Kiwi are native to New Zealand but remain unseen by many. Today these birds are protected and reside on off-shore islands and remote  native reserves on the mainland away from the populace. These birds still fall prey to pests like wild cats, dogs and farmers who continue to use antiquated outlawed traps — gin traps.

Historically Maori chefs adorned their cloaks with the kiwi feather. A status symbol, prestige and mana (honour).

The kiwi suffers from modernity. A flightless bird in the middle of a mad world. This cute animation says it all.

Kiwi – people

What makes a Kiwi different? Humour. Americans will know the Flight of the Concords, a popular series written and acted by two New Zealanders. Although Kiwi humour orginally derived from England, over the years it has evolved into something unique. New Zealand humour isn’t difficult to fathom out, it just takes time.

On the whole Kiwis are like everyone else, but we live life in an unassuming way.


Tall poppies are frowned upon, team players are revered and help is always available. Well, that was in the 70s. Times have changed.

New Zealanders used to believe that meat and three veg was the best meal around, that fish and chips were a staple Friday night takeout, and that rugby was a religion. In addition, beer was considered the preferred beverage of choice and black singlets, black shorts and Wellingtons were suitable attire for any good hardworking farmer and blue collared worker.

Thank-goodness times have changed. Fashion still has to work its magic on the average New Zealand female, apart from that, food has become the new religion, along with coffee and wine fighting for first place as beverage of choice. Travel is, and has, been a large part of the Kiwi psyche, rugby is slowly stepping aside for other sports.

But, our dry ironic humour still continues to floor those unaccustomed to it.

Caffeinated Traveller

  1. April 28, 2010 9:45 am

    What a lesson! I do like Kiwi although I generally prefer it mixed with other fruits. I didn’t know it used to be called a Chinese gooseberry, good to remember! Your explanation of New Zealanders is interesting, we Americans often confuse you with Australians,

  2. April 28, 2010 11:55 am

    I like the video of flightless Kiwi, but I do not care whose homour it is from…

  3. April 28, 2010 12:14 pm

    That video was incredibly touching. I felt good for the little kiwi!

  4. April 28, 2010 2:20 pm

    Fly Girl – yes I have come to a similar conclusion about Americans mixing Kiwis with Ozzies. We are similar but Ozzies are probably more spirited, honest and out there doing it, than Kiwis.

    Rainfield – not quite sure if I understood your last comment. All humour is fine by you?

    Anil – The video was cut from another video which has a sad ending. Won’t tell you what happened too many tears.

  5. travelforaircraft permalink
    April 29, 2010 9:46 am

    Very nice macro photo!

    As for me, I’ve always enjoyed kiwifruit — the fuzzy fruit 🙂 I don’t know any recipes for them, however.

    I’ve met a few kiwis — the bipedal variety — and they all were pleasant.

    Haven’t yet seen the bird, except on the NZ Air Force roundels.

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  7. April 30, 2010 3:00 am

    I have kiwi relatives, if I can use the term here, and agree with you that the humour is dry and a little unusual , even to us Aussies. If anything, I find them to be proud about being New Zealanders but in an admirable way.

    • April 30, 2010 8:58 am

      Gourmantic you have hit the nail smack on the head. Kiwis are proud and I did think it was in a good way up till my recent visit. Sometimes their pride gets in the way of advancement. As for our humour, yeah not sure how that came about, it is unusual.

  8. April 30, 2010 2:53 pm

    Thanks Bear for the compliment, I had a good teacher and I think I’ve finally figured out my lens!!

  9. April 30, 2010 6:52 pm

    One more usage: the New Zealand Dollar (NZD) is frequently referred to as the “Kiwi Dollar” – sort of the same as calling USD, Greenbacks.

    Oh, and there’s now Gold Kiwifruit.

    It’s pretty easy to tell people who’ve never been here by the way they use the word 🙂 I remember chatting online years back, and people were confused when I used it in the “New Zealander” context – then they refused to believe it was that easy to spot someone who’d never been here 🙂

    • May 1, 2010 5:31 pm

      Oh yes the kiwi dollar and golen kiwi. Can’t say I’m a fan of the golden one but at least the fur has gone. Thanks for the extra tid bits.


  10. May 4, 2010 1:33 pm

    Tall poppies? That’s one we don’t use out here. What’s it mean?

  11. May 4, 2010 7:19 pm

    Gale it means people who think they are bigger and better than others, like big fish small pond. Anyone that stands out from the crowd.


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