News & Events

NZ Language

Kiwis speak very quickly and use a lot of slang. Even if English is your native language, this can be confusing. Don’t be afraid to ask people to slow down or repeat what they said.

New Zealand has three ‘official’ languages: English; Māori and New Zealand Sign Language.

Maori (Te Reo) is the language of the Maori people, the indigenous inhabitants of New Zealand. While speaking TeReo is not critical to do business in New Zealand there are a number of words which have found their way into every day life. When doing business with New Zelanaders, particularly Maori people it is nice to be able to use a few Maori words.


E noho rā Goodbye (from a person leaving
Haere rā Goodbye (from a person staying)
Haere mai Welcome! Come!
Hei konā rā Goodbye (less formal)
Kia ora Hi! G’day! (general informal greeting)
Mōrena (Good) morning!
Nau mai Welcome! Come!
Tēnā koe formal greeting to one person
Tēnā kōrua formal greeting to two people
Tēnā koutou formal greeting to many people
Tēnā tātou katoa formal inclusive greeting to everybody present, including
Hui meeting, conference, gathering
Marae the area for formal discourse in front of a meeting house; or the whole marae complex, including meeting house, dining hall, forecourt, etc.
Karanga the ceremony of calling to the guests to welcome them onto the marae
Manuhiri guests, visitors
Tangata whenua original people belonging to a place, local people, hosts
Whaikōrero the art and practice of speech making
Kaikōrero or kaiwhai kōrero speaker (there are many other terms)
Haka chant with dance for the purpose of challenge
Waiata song or chant which follows a speech
Koha gift, present (usually money, can be food or precious items, given by guest to hosts)
Whare nui meeting house; sometimes run together as one word – wharenui
Whare kai dining hall
Whare paku lavatory, toilet
Hapū clan, tribe, independent section of a people (modern usage – sub-tribe); pregnant
Iwi people, nation (modern usage – tribe); bones
Kaumātua elder or elders, senior people in a kin group