When travelling to Asia, Spain, or Russia, one mostly has a phrase book or an app which helps to communicate. In English-speaking countries, on the other hand, one expects to do just fine as English is taught at a very young age in most schools. However, I already explained how accents, expression and words can differ in “No worries – how to understand the Australian slang”. After a few days in New Zealand, I realised that the country on the other side of the world is influenced by Maori culture.

Everyone that has been to Australia already won’t struggle too much with the New Zealand English. Those countries have a lot in common – not only the kindness of their inhabitants but also their expressions resemble each other.  Nevertheless, there are some special features.

The Maoris’ Influence

After the Maoris had long fought for the acknowledgment of their culture and language, their influence on the New Zealand English is very noticeable nowadays.  Besides English, Maori or Ao-tea-roa as the Maoris call it, is the official language in New Zealand since 1987. Accordingly, all public buildings have to be signposted in both languages to ensure the continued existence of Ao-tea-roa. As the Maoris feel especially connected with nature, one can see the influence it has on the plant and animal word. For instance, New Zealand’s national symbol – the silver fern – is called Cyanthea dealbata.


Kia Ora Hello
Gidday Hello
Haere Ra Bye
Nau mai, haere mai Welcome
Kei te pehea koe? How are you?
Kiwi A person from New Zealand
Ta Thanks
To Pash To kiss
Aroha Love
Away with the ferries Day dreaming
Bit of a dag A funny person
Doing the ton Driving very fast
French letter Condom

Maori cultural characteristics

As In every culture, there are some special features – for instance, Maoris do not shake hands or hug when welcoming, instead they press their forehead and nose against each other’s. In Germany, we’d say this shows if two people can “smell each other”, meaning they get along. If a Maori sticks out his tongue, there is no reason to be afraid – this is simply an old tradition to scare off evil spirits. Traditionally, tribal leaders got their faces tattooed whereas now, these tattoos seem to be a souvenir for some tourists. Other than that, laboriously carved sculptures an be found all over the islands.

Hare Ra

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