How to understand a New Zealander

"New Zealanders are a breed apart. They approach life with a wicked sense of humour, and in particular a healthy sense of life’s absurdities. And they never met a word they didn’t want to make shorter."


General knowledge

What you’ll need to know to get by and make friends.

Choice aye - all good
As – use to intensify the preceding adjective eg ‘sweet as’, ‘hungry as‘
Bro – short for brother, term of friendship used with alarming regularity
Chur - Kiwi for thanks, cool, sweet as, etc. A more relaxed version of ‘cheers bro’. Can also be used as a NZ version of ‘ta da!‘
Yeah nah – technically means no. Defined by user; purposely vague.
Yeah right – means ‘I don’t believe you at all’.
Not even – to be used when the facts of a conversation are in dispute
Oh true – used to express vehement agreement
Stink – expression of dismay when told of a failure or an unfortunate event
Tiki Tour – from ‘Contiki Tour‘. Means ‘the long way round’ e.g. ‘we’ll tiki tour around to Napier for the next game’.
Bach (pronounced batch; mainly North Island) – small holiday home, shortened from bachelor



Common Maori terms

These words are a big part of the NZ lexicon regardless of whether or not you’re Maori (for tips on pronunciation see this language resource).

Kia ora – hello!
Ka pai – all good/well done
Ke te pai – I’m good
Waka – canoe, but commonly repurposed in an ironic way to mean just about any moving vehicle.
Whanau – family, usually extended. Vital part of NZ Maori society.
Iwi – tribe, may be applied to people from other nations, again in an ironic way



False friends

And before you head off on your merry way, if there’s one thing to remember about the New Zealand language, it’s irony. Whatever a New Zealander is saying, they’re probably meaning the opposite. Look for the tongue planted firmly in their cheek – and hope that they don’t call you a ‘winner’.

Winner – complete loser
Quite nice – awful

Read the full article over on lonely planet.



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