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Modern appliances, modern women

Iron circa 1955, His Master's Voice, England. Purchased 1995. Te Papa

In the 1950s, the work of New Zealand housewives became modernised and electrified. Labour-saving appliances – a dream during wartime rationing – were now a reality.

The New Zealand economy was booming, and full employment meant families had money to spend. By 1956, 57 percent of households had an electric cooker. Over 50 percent owned, or had access to, a refrigerator and washing machine.

Fridges meant that women no longer had to shop for perishable goods so often, giving them more time. Despite the social pressure to stay at home, some women took on part-time work, often in poorly paid jobs, in order to pay for new consumer items.

The first supermarkets appeared in the late 1950s, the first malls in the 1960s. Some department stores set up special sections for teenaged baby-boomers and their parents.

© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.