In the 20th century markets in New Zealand were usually fundraising days for churches, schools or charity organisations. Food did not predominate, but on the varied stalls, among the bric-a-brac were often jars of home-made jam and preserves, cakes and produce – usually surplus home-grown fruit and vegetables.
Charity groups drove the development of open-air markets from the late 1970s. Some markets set up to raise money for charity became large, regular markets, for example the Riccarton market, founded by the Christchurch Rotary Club in 1989. By 2003, when it had 300 permanent stall holders, selling mainly fresh produce, handmade crafts and second-hand goods, it had raised $844,000 for community charities in its 14-year existence.
Te Puke Ōtara marae opened the United Flea Market in South Auckland in 1978 – before there was Saturday shopping. The market, in the car park behind the Ōtara town centre, was a fundraising effort for local charities and quickly became a major weekend event.
The market had a distinctly Polynesian/Pasifika atmosphere and a strong food component – with Pacific Island food specialties such as taro and sugar cane.
Nelson market grows
As the Nelson market grew strongly in the two decades after it began in 1988, founder Nita Knight applied limits to the content of stalls. ‘It’s hard to keep the integrity of the market, but I want it to reflect what’s going on in the region – the produce and arts and crafts – to bring out the flavour of this area.’1
Auckland’s Avondale market, established around 1982, became known for high-quality Asian foods and produce. The city’s fast-growing Asian community could find dumplings, long beans, bok choy and other specialty foodstuffs not then available from supermarkets and shops.
Brown’s Mill market, which opened in an old flour mill in Auckland’s Durham Lane in 1968, was New Zealand’s first craft cooperative. Its members were furniture makers, glass artists, jewellers, ceramicists and fabric artists. It was open in the weekends.
Other markets centred on crafts flourished in the 1970s – including Victoria Park and Cook Street markets in Auckland, and Victoria market in Wellington. Many of these markets, usually held on the weekends, declined in the 1980s, but some survive, most notably Christchurch Arts Centre weekend market, which sells arts, crafts and produce. In the early 2000s a resurgence in crafts led to a number of occasional craft markets around the country, some of them held in galleries and bars.
Markets showcase localities
Some cities established markets to celebrate the produce and crafts of their own area. The Nelson Saturday market in Montgomery Square opened in 1988 with a focus on regional specialties.