Language in New Zealand
Official Languages in NZ
English and Māori are the official languages of New Zealand. Māori became an official language in 1987. In April 2006, New Zealand became the first country to declare sign language as an official language, alongside Māori and English. New Zealand Sign Language, or NZSL, is the main language of the deaf community in New Zealand.
Would you like to improve your English?
We'd like to help you do that!
In the language section of this website, we've got some great information to help you improve your English.
To begin, we've got vocabulary words and New Zealand English "Kiwi" slang words to help you improve your understanding of what's being said. That way, you will be “sweet as” when at a supermarket and the cashier asks you, “is that the lot?”
Many local everyday words have been borrowed from the Māori language, including words for local flora, fauna, place names and the natural environment. The everyday use of Māori words, usually colloquial, include words like "kia ora" ("hello"), or "kai" ("food") which almost all New Zealanders know. Māori is ever present and has a significant conceptual influence in the legislature, government, and community agencies (e.g. health and education), where legislation requires that proceedings and documents are translated into Māori (under certain circumstances, and when requested).
ISMNZ workers throughout New Zealand are involved in helping students build their vocabulary, practice conversational English, and connecting students with volunteers from our local communities who have a heart to help international students.We can also give you tips on New Zealand body language. For example, what does "personal space" mean? Do you look people in the eye, or avoid eye contact? What is the standard greeting?
Learn some Kiwi-English
Sweet as: Has a range of meanings based on the context, from "thank you", "you are welcome" or an acknowledgement of what has been said
Eh (Ay): Can be added at the end of a sentence to turn it into a question, it can mean "what do you think?"
All good: Used in reply when someone is thanked, similar to saying "you are welcome"
Keen: Interested or enthusiastic. If someone suggests an idea, those who are interested may reply with "keen!"
Yeah, nah: Acknowledging the other person has been heard, but the answer is still no
Nah, yeah: A non-committal yes (whichever word the phrase ends with is the answer)
Dairy: A corner street convenience store, selling daily essentials like milk, newspapers and some food
Tramping: Hiking, usually a multi-day hike
Learn some Māori words
Aotearoa: New Zealand (land of the long white cloud)
Kia ora: Hello
Nau mai: Welcome
Māori: The indigenous people of New Zealand, and the name of the language of the indigenous people of New Zealand
Te reo Māori: The Māori language
Hāngi: Food cooked in an earth oven, using heated rocks and steam to cook it
Koha: A gift or donation
Pākehā: A New Zealander of non-Māori descent, usually European
Whānau: Extended family