New Zealand words

New Zealand words

The following is a list of words used in New Zealand English, both shared with Australian English and unique to New Zealand English.


Unique to New Zealand

Word/Phrase Pronunciation Definition
as used to intensify the preceding adjective, e.g. "hungry as", "sweet as",[1][2] "bad as", "good as". An incomplete comparison (e.g., hungry as a hippo, sweet as a sugar, good as gold, etc.) used alone as an adverb to strengthen an adjective.
au from the Māori word aua meaning "I don't know". Common in Northland and Gisborne.
Bach bætʃ a small holiday home, usually near the beach, often with only one or two rooms and of simple construction. Comes from bachelor. (See also 'crib', below).
bei a mutation of the common slang word "Bro". Mostly used in and around Gisborne. Commonly combined with the slang "eta" to form "eta bei" and pronounced as one word.
a box of birds I am fine, used as a response to the question "how are you?" A common follow-up is all shit and feathers. (See also 'a box of fluffies', below.)
a box of fluffies a variant of "a box of birds", shortened from "a box of fluffy ducks".
Boat Person A (usually) light hearted Wellington term to describe a person from the South Island who moves to the North Island however it can also apply vice versa. due to the Interislander Ferry link between both islands
boy racer Young delinquent or street racer. Sometimes referred to as a hoon, though this term is uncommon.
bogan A Person typically aged between 15 and 40 whose attire are black jeans, black-ribbed jersey a t-shirt sporting a 60s-70s-80s hard rock/metal band, and indulges in excessive alcohol intake. Their hair style usually consists of messy long hair or a mullet and they are usually unshaven. They use unique slang within their subculture and often drive a beat-up holden vehicle which is near, at, or past its use by date in terms of road-worthiness. Often seen in places like Hamilton, Upper Hutt or Waitakere
Chch tʃ.tʃ Christchurch, the country's second-largest city
chilly bin An Esky or other portable polystyrene/plastic food and beverage cooler.
chop tʃop A slang used to indicate when a person has been owned or shown. Commonly used in and around Ngaruawahia
chur bro Slang, humorous 'pronounced as a deep 'chair' usually a strong voicing of thanks but also a parting salutation. Shortened from "cheers brother" although can be said to either male or female. More recently this can and has often been shortened to "chur bo", as "bro" loses its 'r'.
couldn't be . Short for couldn't be bothered. Also, "oh I couldn't be chuffed" similar to "couldn't be fucked/bothered"
cool friends , very sarcastic. "Cool friends broke Daryl's phone"
crib another word for bach, more commonly used in the south of the South Island.
cunt Rather than an insult or a swear word the word 'cunt' in New Zealand generally describes a person in general often with a prefix, for example "he's a mad cunt" or "those cunts deserve a medal". Can also be a positive thing, for example "he's a good cunt"
cuz as in male or female cousin, plural form "cuzzies", and sometimes "the cuzzie bros".
Dag(g) similar to a "hard-case" i.e. a comedian or funny person. Commonly used in the phrase: "What a dag!". NZ comedian John Clarke's stage name Fred Dagg was influenced by this.
dairy equivalent to the British term corner shop or American term convenience store.
The Ditch slang the Tasman Sea, the "ditch" separating New Zealand and Australia, almost always used in the phrase: "across the ditch", meaning, Australia. Occasionally also refers to Cook Strait, which separates the two main islands of the country.
domain as well as its common overseas uses, a public park or reserve, often with sports or camping facilities. Derived from the British legal "land in public domain" or government owned land for public use
egg mild insult meaning 'fool' or 'dork'. Enjoyed widespread use in the 1980s, still used today. Used to be used occasionally with the partner (and now all but obsolete) "spoon".
eh! Slang used for emphasis at the end of a sentence, eh!. Can be used as meaning "isn't it". (A similar but not identical usage is found in Canadian English). See Eh. Probably derived from the Maori word 'nei?' which means 'isn't that right?'[citation needed] More recently spelt "ay" or "aye", which is a closer phonetic spelling in the NZ accent.
eoh; eoa; aoh; (no agreed spelling, conversational only) derived from the Maori "e hoa" (friend). Used as a friendly term meaning "mate" in the NZEng equivalent, or bro; also used as "hey" or "yo" in place of subject's name if at the beginning of a phrase. Non-gender specific, and pronounced like a very short, clipped "our" perhaps without the final 'r', or like out without the 't'. Was common in Auckland but was popularised by the television show 'bro'Town', where it is both pronounced and written as 'ow'. "Eoh, you coming or not?"; "Where you been eoh?".
Et/Eta/Eta Harry pronounced "Etta". Common in Gisborne, exclamation similar to "whatever" also used as an expression of surprise and mild consternation much like 'oh no!' Often used to express the sentiment "that is not true". Probably derived from the Maori 'e Ta!' (='oh Sir!') or 'e tama!' (='oh child!' which is a mild scolding).
freezing works a meat-packing plant, an abattoir.
flag slang to no do/want. Meaning "I can't be bothered", or "I don't think it's worth doing.", e.g., A: "Do you wanna go for a walk?" B: "Nah, flag." Or: A: "Should I mow the lawns?" B: "Nah, flag it."[3] Also can be used in place of the word "bothered", e.g., "I can't be flagged."
fulla slang guy, from 'fellow'.
green fingered bro slang for someone who regularly smokes cannabis; usually referring to a person from Kaitaia.
GC "informal" meaning good cunt. It is a very possitive complement.
Godzone informal New Zealand: corruption from 'God's Own Country'. Can also refer to Australia.
halfpai slang meaning half-arsed e.g. "doing a halfpai job at doing the dishes"; actual meaning: half-good from the Maori word pai = good.
hamu (pron. ha-moo) – a Maori verb or noun meaning to scavenge or scrounge. Also someone who hogs the ball in a sport- "Hurry up and pass the ball you hamu!"
hard case slang a person who has a very good sense of humour, a comedian.
hau expression: 'wow'; often pronounced with a long drawn-out tail "hauuuuuu"; Maori origins, sometimes transmuted into hau-ly (holy), to punctuate the expression.
Hayum "slang greetng": pronounced "Hay-om; variation of "How ya going?"
Hori a Maori transliteration of ‘George’, is a New Zealand colloquialism and is often used as a derogatory term for Maori people.
Hua expression: pronounced whoo-a; however not drawn-out. Originates from the Scottish pronunciation of whore, used in conversation in a tongue in cheek manner, such as 'You dirty hua'; 'you little hua'. Maori for the part of a paua you don't eat as it contains excrement.
huckery a descriptive term for something that is defective or badly done.
hutt slut a derogratory term for young woman aged between 15 and 30 who hails from the Hutt Valley who dresses in scantly-clad revealing outfits and drunkenly 'picks up' much older men for a one night stand. Slang commonly used by people living in central Wellington and/or "ex-pat" Hutt people living in Wellington City.
JAFA a derogatory acronym used to describe Aucklanders. This stands for Just Another Fucking Aucklander. Aucklanders refer to it as Just Another Fantastic Aucklander. This acronym has particular sentimental significance to NZers, being the name of an iconic cinema sweet (called Jaffas), which consist of a spherical marble sized shell of orange/red candy filled with chocolate. This explains the superfluous 'F' in some versions of the acronym.
Jandals slang as in US and UK "flip-flops", Australia "thongs". Portmanteau of Japanese Sandal. See Jandals.
Joker bloke, guy, fulla, usually a general term for Kiwi male, with positive connotations. Sometimes a "good joker" or "funny joker", rarely used in derogation. Although about two generations old from the time of entry, it is still recognised and understood.
Judder bar A speed bump - a raised bar across a road designed to slow traffic.
Kai Maori - food
Kapai "Good" or "nice". Maori for that's good. Has entered the lexicon of non-Maori speakers.
Kina New Zealand sea urchin, Evechinus chloroticus
koin meaning keen, or down... e.g. that's koin, that's koin.
Mainland informal usually, but not always, refers (sometimes mildly humorously) to the South Island, which, despite its much smaller population, is the larger of the two main islands of New Zealand.
Manus A derogatory term meaning idiot or imbecile. Pronounced 'Mah – niss'. Derived from 'male' 'anus'. Common in West Auckland.
Māori fireworks derogatory - To scratch the flint off a lighter, put the dust in your fingers and light it.
Māori overdrive derogatory - Coasting down a hill in a car with the engine turned off and the transmission in neutral.
Māori shower derogatory - The use of deodorant rather than bathing.
Mean - Cool, good, normally used with -as at the end 'Your new car's mean bro'.
  • Munta - Good person, 'Johnno ya munta'. Affectionate term. Derived from Munted. Used mostly by Westies. Also 'munter'. Can be used in a derogatory fashion, 'what a pack of drunk munters'.
  • Munted - Broken, stuffed, destroyed,[4] 'The main sewer [lines] are seriously munted.' (Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker after the 4 September 2010 earthquake).[5]
  • Muppet - A Mild insult to describe a stupid, incompetent or otherwise foolish person
  • OE or Big OE – informal overseas experience, time spent travelling and working overseas, often beginning in London.
  • OTP, On the piss - Common term for drinking alcohol in large quantities to get drunk, 'Keen to get OTP tonight?'.
  • P – a recently adopted term for Crystallised Methamphetamine. "P" stands for "pure", which it was also called. During the mid-2000s, the New Zealand Media popularised this term for the illegal drug, and other terms are all but unused.
  • Pakaru – defective, broken down, not functioning at all. Maori for broken. Sometimes is anglicized to 'pakarued', patu or similar.[6][7] For example, "My car's pakarued!"
  • paua – abalone
  • Pottle – in some areas, the unit by which strawberries and certain other fruit are sold. In other parts of New Zealand, the terms "chip" and "punnet", shared with UK English, are better known. The term also refers to any small plastic container, as e.g. for yoghurt.
  • pull one – "slang". To leave. To pull a cruiser/an exit.
  • pulling them – "slang" Joking/kidding. Short for "Oh I was just pulling ya tits!".
  • Queen Street farmer – informal humorous a usually pejorative term for an investor in rural land with no knowledge of land use.
  • Rej – pronounced "reedge". Abbr. of "reject" or "retard", a schoolyard insult and a insult via txt.
  • Remuera tractor/Fendalton tractor – slang humorous a usually pejorative term for an SUV (known as a "four wheel drive" locally) (compare Queen Street farmer, above). See Toorak Tractor or Chelsea Tractor.
  • Rogernomics – a political term applied to 'economic reforms' of the 1980s, and continuing worldwide today. These involved turning public assets and property over to private interest; selling government land and companies for short-term , one-off profit. Named in honour of its spearheading MP, Sir Roger Douglas.
  • rolls/rollies – rolling tobacco (see tayllies)
  • scarfie – slang a university student at the University of Otago.
  • Sainos  - Used instead of Sainsburys.[citation needed]
  • Shore Girl Shore Thing  - Relates to females from the North Shore (Auckland) that are 'easy'
  • shraps – slang, coins/loose change – derived from shrapnel which may also be used.
  • sewl – slang, farewell/good-bye corruption of "see you all later" pronounced similar to "seal" (an extremely fast and slurred "see-you-all" ending in mumbled 'l' sound)
  • Shot – slang said instead of thanks or cheers, commonly as "Shot bro" or "Shot g". Also alternatives for "well done" or "impressive", both in the sarcastic (mumbled) and non-sarcastic (loud) form.
  • Slap second - To do a burnout, objective to be able to get it into second gear when doing a burnout 'Craig slapped second in his Skyline'.
  • "'Stink'" - Shit, bad, rubbish. Can be used as an exclamation "Stink!" or as an adjective. "Her cooking is stink."
  • sookie bubba noun (sometimes spelt 'sooky baba' or variants) – NZ version of crybaby, wimp, tangiweto (maori). Extension of 'sook' as used elsewhere.
  • snags – sausages, bratwurst.
  • snarlers – sausages, bratwurst.
  • stores – slang, groceries (mainly used in Gisborne).
  • strop – slang, to masturbate, or "Stropper" derogatory name for someone. See "Wanker"
  • stroppy - slang, an unpleasant, grumpy or disagreeable person. "Geez he's a stroppy bastard".
  • stubbie – slang bottle of beer.
  • sweet-as colloquialism- all-purpose phrase meaning "great" or "awesome". Also equally used as an equivalent to "no problems" or "fine", for example:

1) A: "We beat them 48-3." B: "Sweet-as!"

2) A: "Can you get this finished off for me?" B: "Yeah mate, sweet-as."

  • tailies – cigarettes; shortened from tailor-made cigarettes.
  • take one – "slang". To urinate. Usually on something, e.g.: "I need to take one on Matthews" or "I just took one on that fence"
  • tin – slang Corrugated roofing iron, an icon of New Zealand architecture and widely used in old and new houses.
  • tinnie – slang One gram of marijuana wrapped up in aluminium foil sold for between NZ$20-NZ$25 Depending on the dealer and quality
  • tinnie house – slang A Suburban house where marijuana (and usually other drugs) are sold
  • Togs – Swimsuit
  • Too Much – Good, Great, very pleased.
  • Trots – Harness racing, or Diarrhea.
  • Twink – A popular brand of correction fluid that has become a generic term.
  • Tu Meke – Maori word meaning 'Great' or 'Too much'
  • Tu Meke Skux - translates to "too much skux" meaning a male who dresses well and has a stylish haircut.
  • up the Puhoi or Boohai – slang far from civilisation. The Puhoiriver is 50 km north of Auckland. Over the years the phrase has evolved from "up the Boohai shooting pukeko with a long-handled shovel": said in response to "Where are you going?", and meaning either "Mind your own business" or "I'm just wandering around". It is also sometimes attributed to other New Zealand rivers.
  • Vivid - A popular brand of permanent marker that has become a generic term.
  • Waka – Maori term for any kind of vehicle or means of transport, from waka used for a canoe or watercraft.
  • Waka-jumping – the act of switching sides or allegiances. Used in particular to describe the act of MPs changing political parties after being elected in New Zealand's MMP democracy.
  • Warewhare – pronounced wa-ray-fa-ray, nickname for the Warehouse stores, a local department store chain. ("Whare" is the Maori word for house). Warehouse outlets or the company itself are also sometimes informally referred to as "The Big Red Shed".
  • Wai Wai Express  – pronounced why-why, means to walk somewhere. "How are you going to get there?" "wai wai express bro."
  • Wagging – slang North Island term for 'bunking off' or truancy.
  • Westie – a sometimes derogatory term which refers to an inhabitant of West Auckland, usually Caucasian. It is also used by people from West Auckland instead of "Bogan" for people who may not even reside there. Has some similar sentiment to the term "white-trash" which is common in the U.S. Westies may be identified by their affinity for black clothing(including tight jeans), Heavy Metal music, 'muscle cars' and aggressive dog breeds. The popular NZ television show Outrageous Fortune follows the misadventures of a stereotypical Westie family.
  • West Island – A name used occasionally for Australia. The main islands of New Zealand are the North Island and the South Island, and "West Island" is used to refer jokingly to the Australian continent (which lies to the west of New Zealand), due both to the large NZ population there and for the implication that New Zealand is the more important country.
  • WOF/Warrant – (Warrant of Fitness), vehicle road worthiness test, similar to British MoT and the Australian Roadworthy Certificate, except that it is required 6-monthly for vehicles over five years old (yearly for those under). Often pronounced 'waf' (as in waffle).
  • Wops/Wopwops – slang rural areas or towns/localities on the fringes of larger towns/cities. ("Wop Wops" or "The Wop Wops" are also used but less commonly.)
  • Yeah nah - A phrase common to most of New Zealand. "Yeah nah mate" Meaning- "I'm not really sure thats right" or "I don't really agree with that"

Shared with Australia or other countries

  • Bogan – a derogatory term describing a person (usually caucasian) who is perceived to be uncultured, uneducated, and/or of a lower class background. (See also 'Westie', below. Equivalent of 'Hillbilly') However, 'bogan' is also a positive term for a fan of heavy metal music that looks the part, regardless of their background.
  • (bring a) plate – informal on invitations to social functions it constitutes a request that people attending should arrive with a plate-full of food, because catering is not provided. Many new arrivals in New Zealand have mistaken this and turned up with an empty plate, but only once. Perhaps used more by the older generation. Shared with Australia.
  • bunk /bunking – South Island term for bunking off or wagging( truancy ).
  • by Jingoes/Jingles/Crikey – used also as a replacement for swearing, especially when annoyed.
  • chips and chippies, – refer to both (UK) chips and (US) French Fries. In NZ, chippies are equivalent to UK potato crisps.
  • choice! – informal excellent! Great idea![8]
  • chunder, slang – vomit, from "Watch out under".
  • chunder mile – a once popular sporting event, particularly at universities, in which participants would run a lap of a running track, eat a cold pie, scull a jug of beer, and continue until the above 'chunder' would occur. Now largely banned by the university authorities.
  • Claytons, slang adj. – low-quality imitation, not the real thing. Originated in Australia. For example, a hasty, temporary repair may be only a Claytons solution to a problem. Originally from the brand-name of a non-alcoholic whisky-flavoured beverage. Generally used by the older generation. See Claytons.
  • crook – slang for sick or ill; as in "feeling crook".
  • Dunny – slang for toilet.
  • Footy, slang – football (usually Rugby Union, rarely League or soccer).
  • G'day!/ Gidday!, interj. – A friendly, informal greeting, as in Australian English (From "good day") Examples, Gidday mate. Mostly used by the older generation.
  • "good as gold" – Great, fine – as a form of agreement.
  • growl/growling/growled – telling off.
  • Kiwi – informal a New Zealander, or as an adjective instead of New Zealand. New Zealanders never use Kiwi to refer to kiwifruit. Used in foreign exchange circles to refer to the New Zealand dollar.
  • longdrop – informal as in US "outhouse" or "portapotty"
  • lolly – any of various sweets (pieces of candy). Iced lollies are called "ice blocks".
  • manchester – household linen.
  • pom, n. – British person, usually English. Possibly from Prisoner Of (Her) Majesty. See Alternative words for British.
  • ocker – slang for a person from Australia.
  • pav - slang for pavlova classic dessert.
  • the rentals – used more recently as a replacement for parents. From the word parentals.
  • scab – verb and noun, meaning the act of (or someone) scrounging, asking for food or money.
  • shake a leg – hurry up.
  • your shout – your turn to buy – usually the next round of alcoholic drinks.
  • smoko – rest break during work, originating in the days when smoking was a common practice and would take place during such breaks. Pronounced "smoke-o".
  • super, – the old age pension scheme. Contraction of "superannuation".
  • sweet as/sweet, adj. – fine as far as I'm concerned. The use of 'as' as an intensifier for adjectives has spread, for example 'It's cold as outside', or 'This summer has been hot as'. 'Sweet as' was, until recently with the exporting of NZ television and humour, unique to NZ.
  • ta – short form for thanks.
  • Tazzy – A name used for the Tasman sea or for the island Tasmania.
  • tinny (also spelled 'tinnie') – 1. slang a tinfoil wrap containing marijuana, sold at a "tinny house". 2. older meaning 'lucky', as in 'tinny bastard', or 'tin-arse'. 3. slang a can of beer. 4. slang a small aluminium-hulled boat, usually unpowered.
  • Tin-arse – used to refer to a lucky person, usually if they win something.
  • togs – bathing suit; swimming costume. Non-gender specific, can apply to speedos, swimming shorts, bikini, or any swimming clothing.
  • wag, slang v. – To play truant, as in Tom's wagging school today.
  • wog disease or illness.


  • McGill, David (1988). A Dictionary of Kiwi Slang. Lower Hutt: Mills Publications. ISBN 0-908722-35-4. 
  • McGill, David (1989). The Dinkum Kiwi Dictionary. Lower Hutt: Mills Publications. ISBN 0-908722-50-8. 
  • Plowman, Sonja (2002). Great Kiwi Slang. Glenfield: Summit Press. ISBN 1-86503-667-6. 


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