As an American living in New Zealand, it took some time to fully adjust to the Kiwi lifestyle. Learning to drive on the opposite side of the road (or wrong side, as I like to refer to it) and acquainting myself with the long list of slang/colloquialisms has gone a long way in helping me get to know and better understand my new home.
Even though Kiwis and Americans share a common language, after three months here, there are still moments when I listen to the radio and have no idea what the announcer is talking about. If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, here is a list of expressions and vocabulary that will help you to fit in, and hopefully keep you from making any linguistic faux pas:
- Ankle-biters: Children
- Buttie: Sandwich made from buttered bread
- Flat white: Similar to a café au lait but uses microfoam instead of steamed milk
- Mate: Friend, buddy, pal
- Mince: Ground meat
- My shout: My treat
- No joy: No luck
- Oz: Australia
- Pakeha: Maori word meaning a non-Maori person
- Partner: Significant other. Typically someone will ask if you have a partner, versus asking if you have a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Piss off: Go away! Shut-up
- Rellies: Relatives
- Root: Sexual intercourse
- Sweet-as!: Cool! Awesome!
- Take-aways: Establishments that sell take-away or to-go food
- Toastie: Toasted sandwich
- Tomato sauce: Ketchup ( Do not try asking for Ketchup. You will be met with alien looks.)
- Zed: How Kiwis pronounce the letter “Z”
Don’t forget to order an ice-cream cone from one of the local fruit markets if you visit. It will be the best ice-cream you’ve ever tasted. Sweet-as!
Postcard: “Hands across the sea.” Made in Great Britain [ca 1910]. Courtesy of the National Library of New Zealand