Story: Swiss

Page 2. Contributions to New Zealand life

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Following the early Swiss influence on dairy farming in Taranaki, a later arrival helped establish deer farming. Hans Fitzi came to New Zealand in 1952 and set up a successful architectural and building firm. He was also a keen hunter and in 1970 started one of the country’s first deer farms at South Head, Kaipara Harbour. He helped to form the Deer Farmers’ Association and to persuade the government that deer farming could earn overseas income. Subsequently he exported deer products to Germany, Switzerland, the United States, Japan and Australia.


In the culinary field Swiss established bakeries, restaurants and delicatessens. In 1978 Daniel Pasche opened Chez Daniel in Mt Eden, one of several restaurants that helped New Zealanders become familiar with a range of dishes and foodstuffs such as capsicums and courgettes, which were little known in the country before then. Roman Priore’s Swiss Deli began making the Swiss sausages cervelat, wienerli and bratwurst in Auckland in 1982.

Other walks of life

Specialised industries set up by Swiss immigrants include a dental laboratory, Prosthetic Processes, established in 1979. It was one of the first laboratories in New Zealand to offer crowns and bridges as an alternative to dentures.

Swiss settlers have also included academics, musicians and writers. Henry Suter produced a definitive work on New Zealand molluscs in 1913. Peter Oettli arrived as a teenager in 1956 and rose to the position of professor of German literature at the University of Waikato. The writer Iris Galey, who lived in New Zealand for 18 years, confronted the taboo subject of incest in her 1983 international bestseller, I couldn’t cry when daddy died.

How to cite this page:

Helen Baumer, 'Swiss - Contributions to New Zealand life', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 22 July 2024)

Story by Helen Baumer, published 8 Feb 2005, updated 1 Sep 2023 with assistance from Jordan Lahmar-Martins