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Food in the 20th century

Page 1 – Introduction

Cooking on a hangi
Cooking on a hangi

No pavlova please

The pavlova - that frothy, baked confection of egg whites and sugar - has long been seen as an icon of New Zealand cuisine; its place of origin has been debated with Australians for just as long in one of the many instances of trans-Tasman rivalry.

But New Zealand cuisine is more than pavlova or hearty servings of the Sunday roast. New Zealanders have always loved eating meat, although we now eat less of it than in the past. Sharing a drink - tea or coffee, a beer or wine over a meal - has been an important ritual. Cakes, biscuits and home-made preserves filled the cupboards of New Zealand households for many years. And in the last 30 years, fast food and dining out have featured more prominently in New Zealand's culinary scene.

How to cite this page

Food in 20th century New Zealand, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated