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New Zealand language 101

New Zealand has three official languages that are in use across the country, English, Maori and New Zealand sign language.

English is the dominant language and is spoken by the vast majority of New Zealanders in daily conversation. Te Reo Maori (the Maori language) is also commonly used throughout the country by both Maori and pakeha (New Zealanders of non-Maori descent).

There are many Maori words and phrases that have become commonplace in daily interactions. We have pulled together some of the more common Maori words and phrases that you are likely to hear on your visit to New Zealand. Have a go at learning a few and using them in your conversations with the locals!

Learn about New Zealand language

Aotearoa - New Zealand (literal translation: long white cloud)

Maori - indigenous New Zealanders

Pakeha - New Zealanders of non-Maori descent

Hongi - traditional Maori greeting

Iwi - tribe

Pounamu - greenstone, jade

Kai - food

Hangi - traditional feast cooked in an earth oven

Whanau - family

Haka - traditional Maori war dance

Koha - a gift or present

Kia ora - hello: pronounced key-or-a

Haere mai - welcome: pronounced har-ee-my

Tena koutou - hello to multiple people: pronounced ten-a koe-toe

Ka kite ano - see you later/tomorrow: pronounced ka keet a-no