Kia Ora, how's it going mate?

Why don't you go flat out, sit down with a cuppa and take a squiz at our mean as list of Kiwi slang. No worries bro if it looks a bit munted, she’ll be right, it’s just the way Kiwis talk in En Zed. After reading this, blow me down if you won’t be stoaked when it comes to speaking here. But don’t go half pie, go all out eh, and earn yourself some Maori roast, a handle or some hokey pockey.

If you didn't understand the above, don't worry, our purpose is to help you get your head around some of New Zealand's unique turns of phrase.

New Zealand has always been a nation with an eclectic mix of people and nationalities, and this mixing pot of cultures has led to the country developing its own particular way of speaking. Some researchers have suggested that the spoken language of New Zealand is independent enough to warrant being called a separate dialect of English. Naturally New Zealanders have come to develop their own brand of slang, which is seen as commonplace to those in the country, while being exotic and potentially baffling to everyone else.

From an academic perspective, Kiwi slang and New Zealand English are very similar to modern Australian English or contemporary South African English. As all three regions are heavily influenced by early migrant settlers, it is natural to assume that the slang and language used holds roots in another part of the world. In the case of Kiwi slang, many terms can be traced back to words and sayings commonly seen in South England.

Kiwi slang is unique in that it is heavily influenced by the words used by the native Maori population, who inhabited the land before the arrival of the pakeha (Europeans). During the early stages of European migration to New Zealand, when the local dialect was being formed and kiwi slang was in its infancy, the language of the local peoples was an undeniable building block. Modern day kiwi slang still persists to display and use Maori words in everyday speech.

New Zealand's agricultural beginnings are a strong and ever-present influence on kiwi slang and everyday language. As a large portion of the country's first European inhabitants were involved in farming, it was natural for certain terms to spread throughout all of society. In present day New Zealand, it is still common to hear agricultural terms being applied in everyday situations.

Some aspects of kiwi slang are unique in that they exist, and are applied, with no particular historic or logical backing. New Zealand is a relatively modern melting pot of languages and sayings, and saw the formation of its own dialect much later than most countries, and in some cases particular turns of phrase stuck in New Zealand, long after they were already in use elsewhere. The kiwi slang term "creek" is one such example, having been extracted from American settlers, as opposed to the term "stream" as would be used by British migrants.

New Zealand's unique use of words and kiwi slang has come to be a particular curiosity around the world, both for its unique blend of English familiarity and its "antipodes" twist. Please explore our dictionary and learn for yourself just what exactly it is that New Zealanders are saying.


©All rights reserved. Based on "New Zealand Slang" by Rodion Kruger & Kirill Kruger, ISBN 978-0-473-21502-6
Service provided by QFSE Media with financial support from Abaconda Management Group