HOW TO TALK LIKE A NEW ZEALANDER
You’ve read a few articles about New Zealand being one of the best country in the world to visit (written by a New Zealander of course) and you want to check it out. You know is it is somewhere near the bottom of planet, close to the Island of the Kangaroos, and that our accents sound like a weird mix of English and Australian. Well here is some more information on what you might hear when you’re visiting and how to talk like a New Zealander when you get here.
There are three official languages in New Zealand; English, Maori and NZ Sign language. If you know how to speak English, then you’re in luck as almost all of us speak it. The problem is sometimes you’ll understand the words we’re using but still wont have a clue what we’re saying. No doubt you will encounter some local phrases which may prove rather confusing. We share many with Australia, however I am not about to start a Trans-Tasman argument over who used them first.
Related somewhat and worthy of mention is our sense of humour. If you want to visit New Zealand, then be aware New Zealanders speak quite casually and have a good natured, cheeky charm. We use humour to defuse situations and to make people feel welcome. We generally tease the people we like more than anyone else!
Here is a list of expressions you may hear as you are travelling through New Zealand (and possibly Australia). Give some of them a try!
|All good||Everything is ok. Can be used as a question or a statement.||“You all good?”
“Yeah man, I’m all good.”
|Bach||Pronounced ‘batch’. Small beach house or a holiday home. Usually small, compact places, often with older furnishings.|
|Bludge||To beg, or to rely on others. A dole bludger is someone who relies solely on welfare without trying to find work. Now the term is used when asking for things you wont give back, such as 'bludging a cigarette'.|
|Bro||Brother. Good friend. Mate. This is used quite freely, even with strangers.|
|Bugger (when describing someone)||Usually referring to a mischievous child. While the original use of the word bugger is quite vulgar, referring to anal sex, Kiwis generally do not use it in this way. Generally.|
|Bugger all||Not many.||"How many fish did you catch?"
"Bugger all, mate."
|Bugger me||Expletive used when something hasn’t gone quite to plan.|
|Bugger off||Go away. Can be quite rude, depending on the context.|
|Bush||Forested area, usually with dense undergrowth.|
|Cheers||Thanks. Also used as a toast when drinking.|
|Chilly bin||Cooler. Lidded box, used to keep food/drink cold. Australian; Esky|
|Chips||Either fried chips or crisps.|
|Choice||Excellent. Not as common as it was in the 80s, but still used occasionally.||"How was the hangi last night'
"Oh bro, it was choice."
|Chur||This is a distorted version of cheers. Cheers Bro, is now chur bo.|
|Cuz||Shortened form of cousin. Will sometimes be used in a similar way to ‘bro’. Within Maori families, older Maori family members, and even close friends, are often referred as an aunt or uncle for the sake of convenience. Their children may be referred to as cousins.|
|Dairy||Corner store. Usually a small store, as opposed to a supermarket. Originally was where you could purchase milk, cheese and newspapers from.|
|Duvet||Quilt, usually filled with wool or down.|
|EFTPOS||Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale. Paying via credit or debit card.|
|Eh||Used to ask for agreement or confirmation at the end of a statement or as a substitute for What or Pardon, though it is very casual and slightly impolite.||"That girl thought I was hilarious. She was pretty much in love with me, eh?"
*someone mumbles something*
“EH? Speak up”
|Fanny||Female genitalia. This does not mean butt. Do not talk about patting someone on the fanny.|
|Fizzy drink||Soda such as Coca Cola etc.|
|Flat out||As fast and as hard as you can.||“I was running flat out, trying to catch him”|
|Get off the grass||Unbelieveable. I do not believe you.|
|Good on ya||Well done. Used to congratulate. Is sometimes used sarcastically.|
|Good as gold||Perfect. Excellent.|
|Hard out or hard||This is used in a variety of ways. Usually that you enthusiastically agree.||“That car was sweet as, eh?”
|Hard case||Funny. Can be used to describe a person or a situation.||“That Kaine guy is really funny, eh?”
“Yeah bro, he’s a hard case”
|Heaps||A lot.||“Hey bro, I bet that Ferrari cost you heaps.”|
|Hissy fit, or hissy||Losing control of your temper. A tantrum or a sulk mood. Used mockingly, as if describing a child.||“I thought your partner was coming”
“He had a hissy fit on the way over and so he’s staying in the car”
|Hokey Pokey||Honeycomb toffee candy made from golden syrup, sugar and baking soda. Used in ice cream by Tip Top. Copied by others.|
|How's it going?||How are you? ‘It’ generally refers to whatever it is that you’re doing, your day, or just life in general.|
|Jandals||Sandals, flip flops, or if you're Australian you'll call them thongs for some reason, like the undies. Weird.|
|Jersey||Long sleeved top, such as a sweater.|
|Jumper||Long sleeved top, usually made from wool.|
|Kiwi||A person from New Zealand or the small flightless bird. We call the fruit kiwifruit.|
|L&P||El and pee. Lemon and Paeroa. Was originally a lemonade drink from a spring in Paeroa, though the taste is now artificial.|
|Lollies||Candy or sweets.|
|Not even||Untrue. I believe you are mistaken.||“I heard you hooked up with that ugly guy at the bar”
|Old Bomb||An old car||"Driving around in an old bomb"|
|On the piss||To drink alcohol.||"We're going out on the piss"|
|Pack a sad||To sulk, become moody.||"Does your sister want to come to the shops?"
"Nah, she's in her room packing a sad"
|Piece of piss||Easy.||"How was the marathon?"
"Piece of piss, mate"
|Pike out||To give up, usually easily. To be a piker is to be someone who quits easily.|
|Pissed||To be drunk.|
|Pissed off||To be angry.|
|Pretty||Kiwis use ‘pretty’ a lot as an informal adverb, meaning moderately above average.||“What did you think of that?”
“It was pretty cool”
|Root||To have sex, generally derogatory.|
|Rubber||Eraser. Not used to describe condoms.|
|Scull||Drink fast. To chug.|
|She'll be right or she's right||Everything is ok, no problem.|
|Sook||Cry baby. Someone who is acting timidly.||"I think this is serious, I’m losing a lot of blood"
"Oh stop being a sook"
|Spit the dummy||See Hissy fit.|
|Sticking plaster||Band Aid.|
|Suss||Suspicious/suspect. Can be used to describe something or someone, or to describe the action of figuring something out.||"This dark alley looks suss"
"Wait here and I'll go suss it out"
|Sweet as||Cool. Everything is good.||"Can I use your phone to call my mum?"
"Yeah sweet as."
"Hey, check out my new car!"
"Oh bro, it's sweet as, bro."
|~ as||Originally starting with ‘sweet as’ the 'as' is now tacked on to almost any adjective. Hot as. Funny as. Dumb as.|
|Take aways||Food to go.|
|Take the piss||To make fun of.||"I'm joking mate. Just taking the piss"|
|Tea||When not used to describe the hot drink, it means dinner.|
|Togs||Swimsuit. Bathing costume|
|Up the duff||Pregnant. Impolite.|
|Yeah, nah||No. Usually used to verbalise your consideration of a question.||“Do you want to come look at my stamp collection?”
“Yeah nah, I have something else on”
|Nah, yeah||The opposite of the Yeah, Nah|
|You alright? (shortened to "Y'right?")||Used as a greeting. How are you?|
|Wop-wops, or wops||Remote location. Middle of nowhere.|
New Zealand has integrated a lot of Maori into its every day language. While fluent Maori is not commonly spoken, most New Zealanders understand a few common phrases, though may be uncomfortable responding.
A NOTE ON PRONUNCIATION
People commonly butcher the pronunciation of Maori words, so here’s a few pointers.
- 5 vowels, 8 consonants, 2 digraphs. That’s it.
- The vowels are similar to Spanish.
- Vowels can be combined to form diphthongs, where the sounds merge into one.
- ‘R’ is rolled, again similar to Spanish, though softer. More like the letter ‘D’ than the long rolled ‘R’ in Spanish.
- There are long and short vowel sounds, similar to Latin. I’m sure everyone reading this has studied Latin, so you’ll all know the long vowel sound is indicated by a macron over the letter. Emphasis is usually on this vowel and syllable.
- ‘Wh’ has different sounds depending on which dialect you are using. I pronounce it as ‘Ff’. Others pronounce it as a ‘W’.
- ‘Ng’ is pronounced as it is in English, like at the end of Sing.
|E noho rā||Goodbye; said by person leaving|
|E haere rā||Goocbye; said by person staying|
|Haka||Maori war dance.|
|Half pai||Sometimes written as Half-pie. This is a merging of English and Maori terms. Pai means good in Maori, thus half pai means half good, or poorly done.|
|Hāngi||Food prepared traditionally,. Originally used by maori to cook vegetables, it has now grown to include meat and other foods. Raw food is wrapped, placed in baskets, and laid in a pit, on heated rocks. It is then buried in soil and left for several hours. The resulting food is unique in taste and absolutely delicious. The process has been handed down from generation to generation, including the stones themselves.|
|Ka Kite||A colloquial shortened (and thus incorrect) version of "ka kite ano au i a koe" which means, "I'll see you again"|
|Kia Kaha||Kaha is strength, willpower, energy and stamina. Kia Kaha means "Be strong", but from both a spiritual strength and a physical one.|
|Kia Ora||This is used as a general greeting or as thank you.|
|Mana||Prestige, authority and spiritual strength, bordering on the supernatural. A person is not the source of mana, but the agent of it. You can be granted mana by people who respect you and who place you authority. In turn, your mana spreads to those people.|
|Pakaru||Broken or damaged|
|Pākehā||Generally refers to New Zealanders of european descent, however sometimes will be used to encompass all europeans. The original meaning is still being debated, though most likely it means "foreigners" and was used to describe the first european settlers encountered by Maori. Some believe it has negative connotations, however there is no evidence to support this.
Many find the term divisive as the term implies segregation. There are no longer any 'full blooded' Maori in New Zealand, so the terms Maori and Pakeha are meaningless in modern society.
|Whānau||Family. Simple as that. Whanau|
There you go. You are armed with some knowledge, ready to chat to Kiwis.