Kiwi vocabulary

List of words, expressions, abbreviations and nicknames commonly used in New Zealand.

All Blacks – representative rugby team

ANZAC DAY abbrev. Australian (and) New Zealand Army Corps. 25. April is a public holiday to commemorate soldiers who were killed and honor those who returned.


Aotearoa – The Maori name for New Zealand. Usually translated as “Land of the long white cloud”

Aussie – an Australian, Australia

Bach – holiday or beach house

Barbie – barbeque, BBQ

Beehive – government office building in Wellington. The shape/design of the building looks like beehive.

Bottle store – sell alcohol (only beer and wine are available at supermarkets)

Bro – brother, it refers to a male friend or relative

B.Y.O. – it states that restaurants are not licensed to sell alcohol but customers can bring their own wine to drink with a meal.

Bring a plate – It means bringing a plate or pot of food to share to the party, meeting etc; not bringing an empty plate with cutlery

Cut lunch – meal from home

Cheerio – little sausages (sometimes mixed with Cheerios – breakfast cereal)

Chilly Bin – An insulated box for keeping food and drinks cold

Crook – feel unwell or ill

Cuppa – a cup of tea, coffee

Dairy – a small shop, often open 7 days a week

Dodgy – strange

Duvet – a quilt

Glow worms – are not worms – they are larvae and the light comes from their waste and they use it (like a spider its web) to capture and eat the insects attracted to their glow. Glow worms are definitely most sought after insect in New Zealand.

Haka – shouting dance, commonly used by national sports teams before game

Hangi – Traditional style of underground cooking

Hokey Pokey ice cream – a favorite ice-cream flavor, which is vanilla ice cream with the combination of honeycomb chunks

Hongi – a Maori form of greeting expressed by pressing noses and forehead

Jandals – flip-flops

Kai – the Maori word for food

Kia Ora – Maori greeting, greeting, wishing a good health

Koha – Maori word for a gift, goods or money, donation

Koru – uncurling young fern

Kumara – sweet potato

Kiwi – a flightless bird or a word referring to a New Zealander

Maori – indigenous people of New Zealand

Marae – courtyard of a Maori meeting house, which has great ceremonial/spiritual significance; a place for welcoming visitors, holding funerals etc.


Moko – traditional Maori tattooing, usually facial. Moko on men usually covers a large part of the face, women’s moko generally covers a chin and lips.

OE – overseas experience

Op shop – opportunity shop, sell donated, usually used clothes.

Pakeha – non-Maori person

Pavlova – a meringue dessert with whipped cream and fruit

Petrol – gasoline

Pissed – drunk

Push bike – bicycle

She’ll be right – it is a common expression that everything will be OK, nothing to worry about

Smoko – coffee or tea break at work

Sparkie – electrician

Sweet-as – awesome (a very common phrase)

Tomato Sauce – ketchup

Ta – thank you

Tea – dinner – generic name for evening meal, main evening meal, dinner

Togs – swimsuit

Waka – Maori word for a canoe


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