Tui Flower turns 90

Good food and a simple New Zealand life are the ingredients Tui Flower credits with achieving 90 great years on planet earth. Friends, family and food writers joined Tui to celebrate her 90th birthday at the end of 2015: it was a time for everyone to reflect on Tui’s achievements and relive some of the great experiences shared with her.

As one of the few food writers in her time, Tui was able to influence a generation of cooks from the 1960s to the 1980s. After graduating from the University of Otago’s School of Home Science, Tui’s career started as a teacher: she was awarded a bursary to study at the L’école hôtelière de Paris, which led her into the food industry as a home economist for Unilever.

Later trips to visit family in the United States exposed her to food journalism: Tui saw a great opportunity for this as a career and was appointed food editor for the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly in 1965. Her brief was to create the first magazine-based test kitchen in New Zealand and by the time she retired in 1984, her kitchen had a staff of nine and her dream to open a cooking school had been realised.

During her career Tui was responsible for the food editorial appearing in the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, the Auckland Star and New Zealand Home Journal. She also published numerous cookbooks from the text kitchen, along with her autobiography Self Raising Flower, published in 1998.

Tui continues to be the mentor to many successful food writers and still has a lively interest in her subject – she has always maintained and expected high standards, and she now decries the demise of some of the standards in food writing seen in today’s publications. At 90, Tui certainly has plenty of accumulated knowledge and wisdom to hold such an opinion! Robyn Martin