After spending some time 2,500 miles below the equator, in the first country that sees the sun every morning (besides a few small Pacific Islands), its hard not to pick up on the Kiwi shortened turn of phrase and jolly banter.
New Zealand is a country rooted in so many unique landscapes, a thriving native culture and a language of its own.
Their indigenous Pacific islanders, called Māori’s, are present all throughout the country with places named Mangawhai, Te Hapua, and Aoraki just to name a few. I can’t spell them, and I definitely can’t pronounce them. Whangarei is pronounced Fan- ah- ray, for starters. Moana is the Māori word for sea (and obviously the best Disney princess). And the country’s rugby team, the All Blacks, does a Māori war chant before every game called the haka. It’s a point of pride down here.
But when I say “language of it’s own” I’m not talking about the Māoris. Instead, I mean the Kiwi’s unique dialect on the language that colonized us both. It’s amazing that we all speak English, yet when you put an American, Kiwi, Aussie, Brit and South African in room together, it’s sometimes as if we’re speaking very different languages.
If you find yourself venturing over to New Zealand anytime soon, here’s 10 helpful tips to get you talking like a Kiwi in no time.
1. First things first, start saying Kiwi.
For some reason, this confuses a lot of my American friends but just remember Australian = Aussie (shortened after all) and New Zealander = Kiwi because of their unique Kiwi birds. No, this bird nickname doesn’t insult them. They call themselves Kiwis too. (Though if you think about it, it would be damn weird if people started calling Americans “Eagles”)
2. Suddenly you become “keen” to do everything.
Kiwis colloquially announce the things they want to do, see and experience. No need for saying “I want to come,” but instead, “I’d be keen,” gets the point across enthusiastically. Keen = eager.
3. When you’re really “keen,” you’re “heaps keen.”
Boston says wicked, California says hella. Kiwis say heaps. It just means “extremely” or “very.” So if you’re heaps keen, you’re really down to go do whatever it may be. It’s also “heaps warm” outside right now as I write this.
4. Life is “Sweet as.”
Actually, everything is sweet as. As what, you might ask? I have no idea. I equate this one to my excessive use of AF.
5. Jandals are the new flip flops.
They’re the only country in the word to use this term. I suppose it sounds enough like sandal? But actual sandals are still called sandals so don’t get confused. New Zealand is also the only country to call a bathing suit togs. Which weirdly sounds a lot like thongs. And thongs is the Aussie word for flip flops. Yes, it’s hard to follow this. And yes, thongs means lacy underwear to everyone else.
6. On the topic of clothing- just give up while you’re ahead.
This goes for the UK too but a sweater is a jumper, a romper is a play suit and if your romper has legs, it’s a jumpsuit. Make friends with the locals, (bonus points if they’ve been to America) so they can help you translate your wardrobe needs accordingly.
7. Yarn isn’t just for your grandma.
“Have a yarn” and “yarn to” are different ways of saying let’s have a chat.
8. If someone tells you they were knackerd, they were wearing clothes.
With their accent, it sounds like they’re saying naked, but knackerd just means tired. Makes total sense…
9. A bach isn’t your single male friend.
Not short for bachelor, but bach is a holiday home. Everyone seems to have one, especially on the beach (in the North Island). South Island folks call it a crib.
10. Get used to talking about piss.
People who are “pissed” aren’t angry, but drunk. And sometimes, you “take the piss” on your friend – which is not to be taken literally. It means “making fun of” or teasing.
It’s confusing, aye?
Not to be confused with the Canadian “eh,” Kiwis say aye nearly as often, and for much the same reason. It serves as a rhetorical question and filler word for the end of almost every sentence it seems. Aye?