I’ve been a bit nervous about doing this post, mainly because I feel like I have no idea what I’m talking about (which in reality is pretty ridiculous since I’m a Kiwi (the slang word for a New Zealander- but you already knew that) who was born and has lived in New Zealand my entire life). Also because some of this stuff is so cringe, but whatever.
I’ve been doing a bit of research; reading blogs and watching videos, and have finally compiled a list of slang words and phrases that you might hear often in New Zealand, I’ve tried to use ones unique to New Zealand, but there’s bound to be similarities between Australian and British slang as well.
As a rule, Kiwis are pretty lazy. We hardly articulate any of our words which leads to our accent, and we like to shorten words as much as possible (even writing this, I was tempted to write “poss”). Again, Aussies do this often too.
Oh and Kiwis use the word “as” ALL the time. We use it as a superlative, so for example if you wanted to make a sentence like “that was awesome” have more impact, you’d add “as” to the end of the sentence: “that was awesome AS”, but then we don’t even end up comparing it to anything, we just leave it there.
So, I personally don’t use ALL of this slang myself, but I’ve included ones that I, for a fact have seen, or know of people who use them. It’s probs (there I go with my laziness again,) a bit excessive, but hopefully educational (there are a lot more from where these came from, I’ve cut down the list A LOT).
- Arvo: Shortening of afternoon (you can pretty much shorten any word to be honest)
- Bach: A holiday home or beach house
- Bro: Pretty obvious and pretty universal, but some Kiwis use this A LOT.
- Bunged (up): Ok, the Urban Dictionary had some very disturbing examples, but in NZ it usually refers to something being broken or not working.
- Bush: yes, it can be a shrub-like plant, but in this case, it usually means a small forest of native NZ trees.
- B.Y.O: “Bring your own” usually referring to alcohol
- “Bring a plate”: Pretty much a potluck. So if you’re asked to bring a plate, don’t just bring a plate, it should have food on it guys. I have heard many a funny story about people showing up with just a plate because they were new to NZ and unaware of the saying.
- Cardy: A cardigan or woollen jersey.
- Cheers: Multiple uses, but usually means thank you
- Chilly-bin: insulated cooler box
- Choice (as): Such an overused word in NZ, meaning awesome, cool etc.
- Crack-up (as): Really funny
- Cuz: I don’t use this, and none of my friends use it, but pretty much it’s a shortening of “cousin”, but usually used when referring to close friends, more often than an actual cousin of yours.
- Dairy: A corner store/ small convenience store.
- Dear: Expensive e.g. “that car is pretty dear”
- Dodgy (as): Unreliable
- Flat: An apartment
- Flash (as): Something that looks classy or new
- “Going bush”: Becoming reclusive
- Gumboots: Wellington boots
- Guttered: Really disappointed
- Hard (out): Affirmative, “Yeah, hard” = “Yeah, I really agree with what you’re saying”.
- Heaps: A lot of something
- Ice block: A popsicle/ ice lolly
- Jandals: flip flops
- Jug: A kettle
- Jumper: A woollen sweater
- Kai: Food (in Te Reo Maori)
- Ka Pai: Well done (in Te Reo Maori)
- Keen: Means exactly what you think it is, but it’s a very overly used word.
- Kumara: Sweet potato
- Lolly: Any kind of sweet or confectionary
- Mean (as): If something is mean, than it usually means it’s good “that’s a mean as song”.
- Munted: Something broken or not working, similar to bunged.
- Nick: To steal
- OE: Overseas experience, usually like a gap year.
- Plaster: A bandaid
- Reckon: Think e.g. “I reckon we should go out tonight”
- Scab: Try and demand or slyly ask for something (usually money) from someone e.g. “Stop trying to scab money off me.”
- Stoked (as): Pleased or excited
- Suss: Suspicious looking “He looks a bit suss”
- Sweet (as): When something is good or awesome, pretty similar and even more commonly used than “mean”.
- Tiki-Tour: The roundabout way, or the scenic route
- Togs: Swimsuit, bathing costume
- Torch: Flashlight
- Tramping: Hiking
- Ute: Small pick-up truck
- Whanau (pronounced; fah-no): Family (in Te Reo Maori)
- Wop-wops: In the middle of nowhere
- Yeah, nah, yeah: This is probably THE most complicated thing to explain. Pretty much Kiwis are indecisive. So for example if someone said something you didn’t agree with you’d say “Yeah,” to show them you’ve heard their point, and then add “nah,” to show that you disagree and then you’re free to state your point of view. What makes it more confusing is if you agree with what they’re saying and have a point to add you might say “Yeah, nah, yeah.” In essence, it’s your thought process spoken aloud, the equivalent of an “uhm”.
- Yonks: Long time, “I haven’t seen you in yonks”
- Zed: How we pronounce the letter “Z”.
There are quite a few more, but I didn’t think they were commonly used or were relevant. If you’re a Kiwi and reading this I’d love to hear of any other words or phrases you think I left out!