Decades before British colonization began in the mid-1800s, explorers had introduced potato to New Zealand's Maori people. The new crop, dubbed taewa, proved well adapted to the cool New Zealand climate, and today red- and blue-skinned "Māori potatoes" are recognized local varieties.
In 2007, New Zealand produced around half a million tonnes of potatoes from an area of just 10 050 ha, with average yields of a very high 50 tonnes. Commercial yields exceeding 70 tonnes are not uncommon. The potato is the country's most popular vegetable - fresh market potatoes are harvested all year round and per capita consumption is estimated at about 66 kg a year.
The past decade has seen strong growth in the processing sector (300 000 tonnes were processed into french fries and crisps in 2006) and in fresh and frozen potato exports, which totalled more than 90 000 tonnes. The retail and export value of New Zealand's potatoes is put at some US$ 300 million a year.
New Zealand Potato Plantings by end-use from 2006-2013 (Potatoes New Zealand / GAIN NZ1411)