On Friday August 9, the kiwifruit industry celebrated the 60th anniversary of renaming the kiwifruit in 1959. The Te Puke War Memorial Hall showcased an event compered by Miriama Smith, with many local pioneer kiwifruit families, including Don Turner and his son David, in attendance.
New Zealand began exporting the fruit to the US in 1959. Don Turner says the fruit had its name changed from Chinese gooseberry to kiwifruit because gooseberries were known to have anthracnose disease which would pose a marketing issue for the US importers.
“The name change was attributed to my uncle Jack Turner,” says Don, “but it was actually a management meeting which included his father Harvey, Jack and my father Graham. They were considering the correspondence that had come in from the importers when we asked them if they’d be ready to receive some Chinese gooseberries.
“The impetus came from the American importers both in Honolulu and San Francisco who were Turners and Growers agents for other products. They said that gooseberries harbour the disease anthracnose and ‘we wouldn’t want to confuse that because they’re not a gooseberry, so could you come up with a different name for the fruit?’
It has been commonly report that the name change came about because the late 50s was near the height of the Cold War.