Depending on where you are in the world, the name Kiwi will mean something different when first brought up. If you’re in the South Pacific Islands, especially New Zealand, people will think of New Zealanders when you say Kiwi. That’s because New Zealanders are called and proudly call themselves Kiwis.
If you’re in other areas of the world then you might instantly think of kiwifruit when the word kiwi is brought up. Which came first and why are they both called Kiwis?
The kiwi is a bird native to New Zealand and can be seen on the badges of soldiers dating back to 1886. So, the word Kiwi was first used to describe people in New Zealand. Side note, when referring to the kiwi bird, you use a lowercase k. When you’re speaking about a New Zealander you use a capital K.
Does that mean kiwifruit originated in New Zealand? No. The fruit is originally from China and carries the name Chinese gooseberry. American servicemen really liked the fruit while they were stationed in New Zealand, resulting in companies importing the fruit into California. However, the name Chinese gooseberry wasn’t very appealing so New Zealand growers started to call it kiwifruit, which caught on with American importers. And as we all know, kiwifruit is just too long to say so now we call it kiwi.