What is the origin of the term jandals? We all use this term in New Zealand but most of us wouldn’t know the background behind the word.

Who invented the name jandal that is synonimous to kiwi slang? Well there is much debate over this, was it Morris Yock and his son Anthony or John Cowie?

The late Morris Jock patented the design in 1957 and apparantly invented the kiwi jandal. However, a Taranaki woman by the name of Mary Deken claims her late father, John Cowie, is the inventor and says that Morris Yock was just an importer not the inventor. Mary Deken claims her father came up with the name jandal which is short for ‘Japanese sandal’.

The eymology states that the word is a blend of Japanese and sandal and that Morris Yock trademarked the jandal. Morris was inspired by the footwear he had come across while he was in Japan. His son Anthony and him began manufacturing rubber jandals out of their garage in 1957.

Rubber for the jandals was imported from Hong Kong and Jandals Ltd initially manufactured them. In 1987 Skellerup bought the business and took over.

There have been many cheap and imported imitations of the brand and in the 1980’s and 1990’s the Jandal was under threat. Legal action nearly took place by the owners to protect their ‘Jandal‘ trademark.

In the UK and the US jandals are known as flip-flops (which comes from the noise they make when walking in them) and in Australia they are known as thongs and South Australians called them plakkies.

It seems most kiwis have a pair of jandals or have owned a pair in the past. We grew up with these rubber sandals on our feet. We love the beach so it’s a no-brainer to own a pair or two. Some kiwis even call jandals ‘samoan safety boots’ as Samoan’s wear jandals everywhere, even to work sometimes.

As a photographer I’ve always had a passion for creative art and recently I have started to feature some Kiwiana digital prints with sayings, words, phrases and colloquialisms in my Etsy store.

If you’re a home sick Kiwi living abroad, my artwork may just be an ideal solution for a dose of New Zealand artwork to decorate your home or office.