The responses in New Zealand to the opportunities of refrigeration transformed farming in the Dominion during the half-century from 1890. Closer settlement and the extension of the cultivated area combined with more intensive farming methods to increase land productivity and real gross domestic product capita to the extent that living standards in New Zealand measured by the Human Development Index ranked first in the world by 1913. In contrast, real wages in the Dominion stagnated. The refrigeration-related trade boom had powerful income distribution effects that increased sharply the land rental–wage ratio during the years to 1920. Widely diffuse land ownership in New Zealand tempered the rise in income inequality, to set the Dominion apart from other land-abundant economies of the periphery.