Our History

The New Zealand Dietetic Association was founded in 1943 with 47 active members, and the first AGM and Inaugural Conference were held in Wellington, 16 – 18 May 1943. At that time, the goals of the association were to:

  • Further the knowledge of nutrition throughout New Zealand
  • Raise the standards of dietary work
  • Provide facilities for those interest to meet for discussion of all matters pertaining to nutrition

Over the last 78 years, the association, now called Dietitians NZ, Ngā Pukenga Kai Ora o Aotearoa, has continued to develop and become, the peak body of dietetic and nutrition professionals providing strategic leadership in food and nutrition through empowerment, advocacy, education and communication, and today represents almost 700 members.

You can read more about the History of the NZ Dietetic Association/ Dietitians NZ, Ngā Pukenga Kai Ora o Aotearoa in our books below

History Book – the first 50 years

History Book – the third quarter century


Becoming an honorable Te Tiriti o Waitangi Partner

Since the establishment of the association, one of our objectives included in our constitution has been Give meaning to Te Tiriti O Waitangi through recognition of the principles of partnership, protection and participation, and to act reasonably, honourably and in good faith.”  Over recent times, the Council of Dietitians NZ, Ngā Pukenga Kai Ora o Aotearoa, assisted by Iris Pahau (AWE Consultants Ltd), has explored the true intent of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. As we reflected on our journey, we acknowledged that few of our processes, actions and decisions included an equal Tangata Whenua persepctive. Over time, this lack of opportunity, sharing and support led to a fractured relationship with Te Kahui Manukura o Kai Ora (Māori dietitians rōpū). With a committment to rebuilding the relationship, Dietitians NZ, Ngā Pukenga Kai Ora o Aotearoa and Te Kahui Manukura o Kai Ora came together in February 2020 at Horouta Marae in Porirua. Facilitated by Iris & the late Wereta Pahau, Te Kahui Manukura o Kai Ora shared with Council some of their past & present experiences [with Dietitians NZ] as we looked to explore the future together. As a result, on 26 June 2020, the Council, on behalf of Dietitians NZ Ngā Pukenga Kai Ora o Aotearoa formally apologised to Te Kahui Manukura o Kai Ora and all dietitians who whakapapa to the whenua of Aotearoa for the mamae they have endured in the past.

The apology can be viewed here

Dietitians NZ is committed to becoming a honourable Te Tiriti o Waitangi partner and has developed a Statement of intent that outlines how we – as an organisation & members intend to honour & ‘live’ Te Tiriti o Waitangi everyday. The Statement of Intent can be viewed here



The first qualifying examination was in June 1942. The University of Otago, Department of Health and Hospital Boards would collaborate to support and provide training. The syllabus drafted then remained the core of training for 40+ years until a revised curriculum, devised using DACUM (Developing a Curriculum), a competence-based programme was introduced in 1985. After six years of this curriculum, the University of Otago Postgraduate Diploma in Dietetics (PGDipDiet) was established. Students were based in one of five training centres, and linked by the University of Otago’s distance learning network.

In 2012, two-year Masters programmes in Dietetics at University of Otago, University of Auckland and Massey University were introduced. Now, twice as many students are trained with evidence-based training programmes equipping them for diverse roles in healthcare within and outside the traditional hospital environment.