Rowdy with a chance of meatballs: New Zealand in frenzy at arrival of Ikea

New Zealanders have been whipped into a frenzy by the news that Swedish furniture giant Ikea will be opening a store in their country, after years of rumours and speculation.

Foreign minister Winston Peters quickly took credit for the news, saying he was sure his decision to open an embassy in Stockholm had played a part.

“We set up an embassy in Stockholm about two months ago now and the great news is: here comes Ikea to be operating in New Zealand,” Peters told Newstalk ZB. “They had all these other years they didn’t come and now they’re coming.”

The country’s largest media outlets issued breaking news alerts to disseminate the news, and stories about the opening ran as lead items on the homepages of news websites.

Within hours of the announcement Ikea became the top trending item on Twitter in New Zealand.

Professor Jonathan Elms from Massey University told TVNZ the opening would be “quite significant” for the country, and if it was located off the motorway between Auckland and Hamilton it could be “the link” that brings the two North Island cities together.

“Rumours have been circulating for years about it coming to New Zealand,” Elms told TVNZ, adding that Ikea could cause unforeseen problems like traffic congestion. “It’s something new, something different, it’s definitely going to raise the bar.”

On social media people joked that the divorce rate in the country was sure to sky-rocket after the opening of Ikea, which largely sells flat-pack, do-it-yourself furniture which can occasionally be challenging to assemble.

Although the news was largely greeted with enthusiasm by New Zealanders, some lamented the quiet South Pacific island being taken over by global mega-business, coming a week after US fast-food chain Taco Bell announced it would be opening a number of stores in the country.

Although New Zealand is often used as a testing ground for big businesses to trial new products and technologies, large global clothing and homewares chains often skip New Zealand because of the small population, limited spending dollar and high freight costs.

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