New Zealand Language
Like most former British colonies, New Zealanders speak English – albeit with a uniquely kiwi twist. Here is a guide to New Zealand's three official languages, and a short dictionary of Kiwi slang to help you through your NZ holiday.
New Zealand actually has three official languages – Maori, English and Sign Language.
Although the use of Maori as a first language is not widespread, many place names are Maori in origin (try tongue-twisters such as Paekakariki, Turangawaewae or Ngaruawahia!). In addition, most government agencies have bilingual names.
New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) became an official language of New Zealand in April 2006. More information on New Zealand Sign Language can be found on the New Zealand Deaf Association website.
English is, in itself, a unique language full of many colloquialisms foreigners may find challenging to decipher.
So, if you don’t know how to rattle your dags, no worries mate – she’ll be right with our Kiwi slang guide!
Guide to Kiwi Slang
Some common Kiwi colloquialisms you may encounter on your visit:
|bach||holiday home||mate||buddy, friend|
|brassed off||annoyed||no worries||no need to worry|
|bro||brother, friend||pakeha||non-Maori New Zealander|
|choice||very good||rattle your dags||hurry up|
|chur||thanks, cool, sweet||she’ll be right||not a problem|
|crikey||wow!||stubby||small bottle of beer|
|cuppa||cup of tea, coffee||suss||to figure out|
|dairy||corner store||sweet||something that is awesome, good, cool|
|dunny||toilet||sweet as||Something is good, everything is OK|
|fizzy drink||soda pop||ta||thanks|
|good on ya, mate!||well done||take-aways||fast food|
|good as gold||affirmative answer||take a hike||go away!|
|hard yakka||hard work||tea||dinner|
|hunky dory||everything’s fine||tiki tour||scenic tour, roundabout way|
|lolly||candy||wop-wops||out of the way location|
Many Maori words have been absorbed into day-to-day use, and are commonly used in conversation.
|Aotearoa||New Zealand: “Land of the Long White Cloud”||Tangata Whenua||Original people, people belonging to the land|
|Aroha||Love, compassion||Tangi||Funeral, mourn|
|E noho ra||Goodbye (from person leaving)||Taonga||Treasured possession, anything precious|
|E haere ra||Goodbye (from person staying)||Tapu||Sacred, not to be touched|
|Haere mai||Welcome!||Tena koe||Formal greeting to one person|
|Haka||War dance, challenge||Tena koutou||Formal greeting to many people|
|Hapu||Clan, sub-tribe||Tena tatou katoa||Formal inclusive greeting to everyone|
|Hui||Gathering, meeting||Turangawaewae||A place to stand, home|
|Marae||Meeting house complex||Whanau||Extended family|
|Pakeha||Non-Maori, European||Whare nui||Meeting house|
|Pounamu||Greenstone, Jade||Whare Whakairo||Carved meeting house|
|Tamariki||Children||Whenua||Land, homeland, country|
Maori language has five vowels: a e i o u
- ‘a' as in ‘far’
- ‘e’ as in ‘egg’
- 'i' like the ‘ee’ in ‘fee’
- 'o' sounds like "or"
- ‘u' like an ‘o’ in ‘to’
The consonent ‘wh’ sounds similar to the english ‘f’.
The ‘ng’ sound is similar to the ‘ng’ sound in a word like ‘sing’.