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Kiwi Lingo

Maori Language Terms

New Zealand is a bilingual country and Te Reo is our other national language. It's not as widely spoken as English but you might hear some of these words come up in conversation...

Kia Ora (key-or-a) – hello, goodbye, thank you.

Haere Mai (high-reh-my) – welcome

Haere Ra (high-reh-rah) – goodbye

Whanau (far-no) – family

Whare – house

Ai – Yes

Kau – No

Kai – Food

Kai moana – Seafood

Kia ora tatou — Hello everyone

Tena koe — Greetings to you (said to one person)

Tena koutou — Greeting to you all

Kei te pehea koe? — How’s it going?

Kei te pai — Good

Tino pai — Really good

Ka kite ano — Until I see you again (Bye)

Hei konei ra — See you later

Mana – respect, status earned through actions

Ka Pai! - Good Work!


Try these out for yourself on an epic adventure around New Zealand! 

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Kiwi Language Terms

In order to relate to the locals you will have to be able to communicate, so here’s a few Kiwi terms to get you started... 

Eh/Aye – compulsory addition to the end of a rhetorical question... "Last night was bloody good, eh"

"ie" – often found at the end of shortened words, e.g. pressie (present), hottie (hot person), tantie (tantrum), cuzzie (cousin)

"As" - also added to the end of words: "cold as", "fun as", "drunk as", "mean as" -used to place emphasis on the word preceding 'as'. 

Sweet as – great, as in "sweet as pie"... "That bungy was sweet as!"

Heaps - used instead of "lots"... "We saw heaps of dolphins in Kaikoura."

"Gap it" - to leave/exit the situation 

Hard case – someone who has a big personality, may do unusual things but basically is a real laugh... "Our bus driver's hard case!"

No worries/No wakas! – no problem!

Dairy - a corner shop or news agent that sells milk, icec reams, newspapers etc

Bro – friend or brother

Cuz – friend or cousin

Chur bro – "cheers, thanks" or "that’s cool, my friend"

Good on ya mate -well done

She’ll be right mate – it’ll be OK

Not even – "no, it’s not" or "that’s not true"

Ta – thanks

True? – surprised question, as in "is that true?"

Togs – swimsuit

Jandals – flip-flops

Sunnies – sunglasses

Suss – to figure out

Wop-wops – out in the back country (middle of nowhere)

Piker – someone who backs out of doing something

Tiki Tour – to drive around casually taking the scenic route

Gawk – to stare

Pack a sad – to get upset and sulk

Back in the day - an undetermined amount of time in the past

Nek Minute - "next" minute - used to create suspense when telling a great story. 


Get on a tiki tour and chat to the locals.

Check out Stray Bus Passes & Tours


blog iconWANT MORE? READ OUR BLOG: New Zealand through the eyes of a Brit – Part 2: Kiwis vs Australians – a lingo lesson

Sam Berwick gives you a lesson on common Kiwi lingo and how to really pronounce those crazy New Zealand place names.