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New Zealand


New Zealand has two official languages, English and Maori, but we recognize that other languages are used in homes and in cultural events.  Official translations of government documentation is mostly available in the Pacific Island tongues (Samoan, Fijian, Cook Island Maori etc.)and for most Asian languages and dialects.

English is most commonly used, but it may be a form of English that UK residents find confusing.
Some examples are:



Arvo Afternoon; "See you this arvo Bill"

Bach (Crib in South Island)

Holiday home, usually with basic a long drop.(Thanks Diane)

Barbie Barbecue; "Come on round, we're having a barbie"
Barista In a coffee house, one who makes and serves coffee-based espresso drinks (Fancy name for a coffee making waiter)


Man, stranger; "He's a good bloke"


A boating enthusiast, also Yachtie.  Kiwis love to use contractions, and will manufacture one if one is not available already.  I'm sure we will soon see: Phonie (mobile phone aficionado), Deckie (one who is continually talking about or extending the already huge decks around his house), Bookie (a Kiwi who actually reads books!!) just joking. Actually Kiwis are great book readers, book swappers and borrowers.

Box of fluffies (fluffy ducks)

Feeling cheerful and happy, (Normally said in response to an enquiry regarding personal condition) "How ya doin,? "  "Box of fluffies, mate"


Bit difficult this one. Not usually used in polite conversation in the UK, but occurs many times in NZ. Easiest to define using examples:
Hit thumb with hammer; "Bugger!"
Ask a stranger to leave your premises; "Bugger off!"
Feeling a trifle tired (like after 80 minutes playing for the All Blacks (see sport or religion)); "I'm buggered"
Telling someone (normally a boss) that they lack the requisite knowledge; "You know bugger all!"
You've been hit with a force 9 earthquake, your stock have got foot & mouth, your wife's left you for a civil servant, your unmarried daughter's just told you she's pregnant(again) and your son has just arrived with the police, who are enquiring what all those funny plants are doing growing in the back paddock under the camouflage netting; "It's a bit of a bugger" (*see also "She'll be right")

Chilly Bin

Cool Box (Insulated plastic box with handle, used for storage and cooling (with ice) of various beverages, traditionally beer)


Chicken (as in Hen)

Cockie Farmer.  Can be modified by type; Sheep cockie, Cow cockie, Mad cockie etc.


Unwell, as in "I'm a bit crook"  Can be used in traditional English usage for law breaker, but Crim or Hoon mostly used.

Custard Usualy a cornflour or egg based dessert, but used to indicate that events or plans are not turning out well;  "If it rains, the sports day is going to turn to custard"




A hard case, a joker
The dried faecal matter found matted to a sheep's arse, normally in late spring, just in time for shearing
Fred Dagg, satirical NZ TV character


Local  general shop

Dob To inform on, to clype; "He dobbed in his mates to the cops"


Toilet and/or bathroom


Commonly used as a suffix on most sentences; "Nice day eh?"
"G'day mate, that ute of youz is sweet as, eh?"

Farewell To say goodbye.  Same usage as in the UK, but with an unusual and extra addition.  When used as a past participle, "farewelled", it denotes a formal (or semi-formal) occasion of remembrance or leave-taking; "The school farewelled Peter after 30 years of service"
Football MAJOR DIFFERENCE Football here refers to RUGBY(the one with 15 in a team and an ovoid ball.; Soccer is the game played with the round ball; "Great football last night, 'Canes got three tries"
G'day Hello, good-day, polite greeting; "G'day, howz it goin?" Note This greeting is used all over NZ and Oz, but it sounds different in both countries.  It is not pronounced exactly as you would imagine, with subtle differences in emphasis.  Immigrants should not use it for at least 5 years, otherwise you'll sound a right wally.


Wellington boots. Can be worn on any social occasion, up to and including meeting the Prime Minister and/or Governor General. It is considered good etiquette to wash them before formal occasions.

Handle Name used for a 'pint' glass mug, used in pubs. ; "Handle of Speights dark please mate"

Hard yakka

Hard work; "You'll have to do the hard yakka to succeed"

Hissy Fit Throwing a tantrum for no real reason; "Jenny had a hissy fit when she couldn't get a chocolate"

Hokey Pokey

Foamed sugar lolly (Like a non-chocolate coated Crunchie), also an ice cream flavour 

Hoon Youngster with probably criminal tendencies, a ned.; "Bunch of hoons have just tagged the school"
Hottie Hot water bottle
Iceblock Ice lolly, popsicle, frozen fruit flavoured juice.
Identity The condition of being oneself or itself, and not another, or a local character.;"The Petone RSA farewelled John Brown, a local identity"



A type of chocolate coated, orange-flavoured lolly
a euphemism for what all non-Aucklanders call Aucklanders (Just Another F**king Aucklander)


Plastic sandals, using a thong to secure the toes (Deriv. From Japanese Sandals)


A sweet potato, a staple of most traditional Maori and Polynesian diets.  Used throughout all cultures in NZ


Sweets, not just lollipops

Long Drop

Extremely primitive running water, just dropping ....I'll leave it to your imagination.

Mad as a Meat Axe Completely lost the plot, completely crazy; "He's as mad as a meat axe, he supports the Aussies at football"
Manchester A major Northern English City, in NZ, a general term for any cotton ware or bedlinen;"Go to the Manchester department to buy some towels."
Mole In the UK a furry subterranean mammal, in NZ, a lady of possibly negotiable virtue.
Munted Broken, busted, kaput.; "After the crash, the ute was totally munted"
Number 8 wire Kiwis, being used to living in a lonely and isolated part of the world, have become past masters of the bodge improvisation  job. "If it's broke, fix it."  (normally with a twisted bit of steel wire (of 8 gauge)used to make fences (for sheep, see Ovis aries below)  Sometimes (even though rarely) the fix doesn't work..
See "Bugger" and "She'll be right"
Offsider Assistant, friend; "We saw him and his offsider going down the road"

Pack a sad

Unhappy, moody ;"It felt like all of New Zealand packed a sad after the result in Cardiff in the 2007 Rugby World Cup"

Pakeha Non-Maori and non-Polynesian inhabitant of New Zealand.  
Has a slightly older connotation of; a white (European heritage) New Zealander
Pav Pavlova, the iconic Kiwi dessert.  A meringue base, covered with cream and fruit.
Pikelet Small pancake (drop-scone in Scotland), Usually served with butter, jam or cream
Poke MAJOR DIFFERENCE. In UK, poke can mean being prodded by a finger or object, or in Scotland, a paper cone for holding sweets or chips.  In NZ used as an impolite euphemism for f**k, (the act of sexual congress)
NOTE the absurd saying "Better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick" works in both UK and NZ.
Pokie Nothing to to with Poke above, a one-armed bandit or electronic gambling machine.
Rattle your dags Hurry up, go faster.  (*See dags above)
Rellies Relatives."We've got to clean up, my rellies will be here in an hour"
Reticulated No it's not some form of reptile or arthropod, it means piped in; "He's got reticulated gas to the house, no need to buy bottled gas"
RSA The Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association; a veterans club, running many local clubs throughout NZ


Ovis aries.  There are many, many sheep in NZ.  No jokes....or else.

She'll be right Contrary to all the laws of probability (and possibly all the rules of the Universe) everything's going to work out OK (*See Bugger above)
Shout Either to raise one's voice to be heard in the distance, or to treat, to buy something for someone"; "Come in to the bar, and I'll shout you a beer"
Sickie To take a day of work or school, a sick day.  NOTE; Can sometimes give the impression of pretending to be sick to get off work.
Sleepout A room or small suite of rooms founds somewhere on the property, but usually attached to or above the garage, with basic amenities for overnight guests.  Can vary between a camp-bed and a bucket, to almost hotel-level accommodation.
Smoko Smoke break, work break.
Spit the dummy Throw a tantrum;  loose the plot. ; "Jim spat the dummy when the boss refused to use Jim's plan" (*See Hissy Fit)
Stoked Excited, really pleased; "Jim was stoked when he won the Lotto"
Stubbies Two completely separate meanings. either small bottles of beer, or a very short pair of shorts worn by blokes (popular in the 70s)
Stuffed Broken, not working, f - - ked.;  "That starter on the ute is stuffed"

Suck the Kumera

To die, to have carked it.

Sunnies Sun glasses

Sweet as

No, the Kiwi saying this hasn't forgotten the last word. This is used as a complete phrase, indicating admiration and/or awe; "Mate, that Ute's sweet as"

Tag Graffiti ; "Those kids from South Auckland tagged the dairy"
Tramping Hiking
Twink Now generic name for any white-out correcting fluid, like Tippex in the UK.
Wag To absent oneself from school, to truant, to dog; "The boy wagged from his Science class"


Utility vehicle, a pick-up truck, but often modified and customised by boy racers, and adults who should really know better racers.

Other, more comprehensive lists can be found here
or here

The Kiwi accent will also take some getting used to.  The accent will vary markedly throughout the country, showing Scottish influences down South (Invercargill, Dunedin) and Polynesian and Asian influences near Auckland.  
There is however a national trend in the use of a rising inclination at the end of a sentence or phrase (high rising terminal) when replying to a question.
Wikipedia ref.

Aotearoa can be translated as the "Land of the long flat cloud", after listening to Kiwis speak however, you may think that a more suitable translation
 would be "Land of the long flat vowel".
Visitors from the UK may get easily confused between "A" and "E" and "I"
Ask for a ham roll, and you get a funny look
Ask for a him roll, and everything's sweet as.