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Some Useful Kiwi Terms

This page contains many New Zealand terms you may hear on your travels. First is the word followed by the meaning. 


ACC; Accident Compensation Commission.
All over the place like a madwoman’s manure; Indicating a mess or poor organisation.
Ankle-biter; small child
Anzac; Australia and New Zealand Army Corp soldier during WW1
Aotearoa; Maori for New Zealand, the land of the long white cloud.
Ariki; Supreme chief of an iwi.
Arvo; Afternoon
Away Laughing; An easy start
Away with the fairies; Daydreaming or unsound in the head

Bach; Beach or weekend cottage
Back-blocks; Remote areas.
Barrack; To support a team
Battler; Someone who works hard
Beaut; Terrific or Great
Berko; Angry or Mad
Biddy-bid; A burr-bearing bush (from Maori piripiri )
Big Spit; To had a large vomit
Bikkies; Money, usually “big bikkies”
Binder; Meal sang used by trampers
Bitser; Made from bits and pieces
Blat; Travel at great speed.
Blimin; A sort of mild expletive, like Bloody.
Block; Head
Blowie; Blowfly
Blow that for a joke; Emphatic rejection
Bludge; To scrounge
Blue; A red haired man
Bomb; An old car
Boomer; To describe something good
Boots n All; No holds barred, complete or enthusiastic
Bot; A germ, as in “he’s got the bot”
Bottler; to describe something great
Box of Birds; Fighting fit
Box of fluffies/ box of fluffy ducks; Everything going well
Box seat; The best seat in the house
Brass razoo; A small amount of money
Bro; Brother, term of endearment widely used by Maori.
Brown derby; An icecream
Bugger; Mild expletive, like Bloody
Bung; To describe something broken
Bushwhacked; Exhasted
Busy as a one armed paperhanger; Very busy
BYO; Bring your own wine to a restaurant

Captain Cooker; Wild pig
Caught short; To be surprised
Charge like a wounded bull; Excessive prices
Cheerio; Cocktail sausage
Cut the cheese; To fart
Cherry; A new cricket ball
Chillybin; Polystyrene picnic cooler
Chippie; A fish and chip shop
Choice; Fantastic.
Chook; A domestic fowl
Chuck; To vomit
Chuddy; Chewing gum
Chug; To drink alcohole
Chunder; Vomit
Coaster; Someone from the West Coast of the South Island
Coat-hanger; A dangerous and illegal one armed tackle around the neck in Rugby
Cobber; Mate, friend
Cocky; Farmer
Cowcocky; Dairy farmer
Cuz; Short for Cousin, used as a friends greeting, as in “Gidday cuz”
Cracker; Excellent
Crib; Weekend beach cottage
Crook; Burgler/ dishonest person
Cuppa; Cup of tea


Dag/Daggy; Something amusing
Date; Bum as in “get off your date”
Daylight robbery; Shameless overcharging
Dairy; Corner shop selling just about everything, open seven days and sometimes 24 hours.
Dickhead; A silly person
Do over; To beat up
Dob; To betray to “dob in”
Docket; Receipt.
Dogbox; Cramped quarters
Dogtucker; Bad food
Domain; Grassy reserve, open to the public.
Down trou; To lose badly
Dunny; Toilet
Durry; Cigarette


Earbash; To talk
Earwag; To listen to things that are not your business

Flat tack; Doing something fast
Flattie; A punctured tyre
Fizz boat; Small powerboat.
Flog; Steal.
Footie; Rugby, usually union rather than league, never soccer.
Freezing works; Slaughter house.
Full tit; Going fast
Full as a bull; Very drunk

Gidday; A very common greeting
Give it a burl; Try it.
Get off the grass; Meaning “get serious”
Go for the doctor; Not to hold back
Godzone; New Zealand
Goob; A gob of spit
Good as (gold); First rate, excellent.
Good on ya; Good on you
Gorse in your pocket; To be slow to pay your share.
Greasies; Takeaway food, especially fish and chips.
Greenstone; A type of nephrite jade known in Maori as pounamu.
Grouse; Excellent
Gutbuster; A hard to walk mountain
Gutsful; More than enough as in I’ve had a gutsful


Had it; Totally exhausted
Haka; Maori dance performed in threatening fashion before All Black rugby games.
Handle; Common term for a pint of beer
Hangi; Maori feast cooked in an earth oven .
Hapu; Maori sub-tribal unit. Several make up an iwi.
Hard case; Funny
Hard yacker; Hard work.
Heaps; Lots
Hit your straps; to do something quickly
Hoe in; Start something
Hongi Maori greeting, performed by pressing noses together.
Hooning; Wild activity
Hooray; Cheerful goodbye
Hori Offensive word for a Maori.
Hows it goin’,mate; How are you? Common greeting
Huckery; Old and broken
Hui; Maori gathering or conference.
Hurl; To vomit


Iwi; Largest of Maori tribal groupings.


Jandels; Plastic thongs for the feet
Jug; Larger vessel for beer for 1 litre


Kai; Maori term for food
Kaimoana; Seafood.
Karanga; Call for visitors to come forward on a marae.
Kaumatua; Maori elders, old people.
Kawa-Marae; Etiquette or protocol on a marae.
Kete; Traditional basket made of plaited flax that is seeing something of a resurgence in popularity.
Kiore Polynesian rat.
Koha; Donation.
Kohanga Reo; Pre-school Maori language immersion (literally "language nest").
Kumara; Sweet potato.
Kuri; Polynesian dog, now extinct.
Kia ora; Maori hello
Kiwi; New Zealander


Laugher gear; Mouth
Lay-by; Practice of putting a deposit on goods until they can be fully paid for.
Lolly; Sweets
Lolly water; Weak alcohol
Lungbuster; Cigarette
Lux; Vacuum cleaner


Mainland; The South Island
Massive; Great
Mountain Oysters; Lamb testicles
Mana; Maori term indicating status, esteem, prestige or authority, and in wide use among all Kiwis.
Manaia; Stylized bird or lizard forms used extensively in Maori carving.
Manchester Linen; section of a department store and its contents.
Manuhiri; Guest or visitor, particularly to a marae.
Maoritanga; Maori culture and custom, the Maori way of doing things.
Marae; Literally "courtyard" but much more. Place for conducting ceremonies in front of a meeting house. Also a general term for a settlement centred on the meeting house.
Mauri; Life force or life principle.
Mere; War club, usually of greenstone.
Metalled; Graded road surface of loose stones found all over rural New Zealand.
MMP; Mixed member proportional representation - New Zealand's new electoral system.
Moko; Old form of tattooing on body and face that has seen a resurgence among Maori gang members.


No-hoper; Someone who has no hope
Nuddy; Being nude
Ngati; Tribal prefix meaning the descendants or people of. Also Ngai and Ati.
No fear; Expression indicating refusal or disagreement.

OE; Overseas Experience, Kiwis working holiday abroad
On it; Drinking alcohol
Op shop; Second hand clothing shop
Out to it; Asleep

Pa; Fortified village of yore, now usually an abandoned terraced hillside.
Pack a sad; To be depressed
Paddock; Field.
Pakeha; New Zealander on European desent
Patu; Short fighting club
Pashing; Kissing or snogging.
Pav; Pavlova, a desert
Pie; pastry with mince meat in
Pike out; To pull out of something
Pikkie; A picture
Piss; Common term for alcohol
Piss awful; Very unpleasant
Piss easy; Very easy
Piss in; To do something with ease
Pisser; Pub
Pisshead; Heavy drinker
Pull finger; To start something
Paua; Abalone, a type of shellfish with a wonderful iridescent shell.
Pavlova; Meringue dessert with a fruit and cream topping.
Pike out; To chicken out or give up.
Pissed; Drunk.
Piss head; Drunkard.
Plunkett rooms; Childcare centre.
Poms; Folk from Britain; not necessarily offensive.
Powhiri; Traditional welcome onto a marae.
Puckerooed; Broken. Derived from the Maori for broken, pakaru.
Puku; Maori for stomach, often used as a term of endearment for someone amply endowed.

Quickie; Fast drink/sex/bowler in cricket
Queen Street farmer; City businessman owning rural property.

Rapt; Happy, as in “we are rapt”
Rooted; Tired
Rooter; Person with an active sex life
Rugger bugger; Passionate Rugby supporter
Ranch slider; Sliding glass door giving onto the garden or decking.
Rangatira; General term for a Maori chief.
Rapt; Well-pleased.
Rattle your dags; Hurry up.
Root; Vulgar term for sex.
Rooted; To be very tired or beyond repair, as in "she's rooted mate" - your car is irreparable.
Rough as guts; Uncouth, roughly made or operating badly, as in "she's running rough as guts, mate".


S’arvo; This afternoon
Scone; Head
Scull; To drink
Shag; To have sex
Shithead; Contemptible person
Shithouse; Toilet or something bad
Shout; To buy someone a drink
Smoko; Tea break
Snag; Sausage
Spew; vomit or emotional out pouring
Speights; A popular beer brand
Steinie; Steinlager a brand of beer
Strife; Trouble
Stuff off; A strong request to leave
Swannie; Large woollen bush shirt
Scroggin; Trail mix, essentially nuts and raisins.
Sealed road; Bitumen-surfaced road.
Section; Block of land usually surrounding a house.
She'll be right; Everything will work out fine.
Shoot through; To leave suddenly.
Shout; To buy a round of drinks or generally to treat folk.
Skull; To knock back beer quickly.
Slutted; Greatly annoyed.
Smoko; Tea break.
Snarler; snag Sausage.
Spinner; A jerk.
Squiz; A look, as in "Give us a squiz".
Station wagon; Estate car.
Stoked; Very pleased.

That’ll be the day; Expression of doubt
Tin arse; Lucky person
Togs; Swimming trunks
Touch; Touch Rugby
Turps; Alcohol
Taiaha; Long-handled club.
Tall poppy; Someone who excels. "Cutting down tall poppies" is to bring overachievers back to earth - every Kiwi's perceived duty.
Tane; Man.
Tangata whenua; The people of the land, local or original inhabitants.
Tangi; Mourning or funeral.
Taniwha; Fearsome water spirit of Maori legend.
Taonga; Treasures, prized possessions.
Tapu; Forbidden or taboo. Frequently refers to sacred land.
Te reo; Maori Maori language.
Tiki; Maori pendant depicting a distorted human figure.
Tiki tour; Guided tour.
Togs; Swimming costume.
Tohunga; Maori priests, experts in Maoritanga.
Tukutuku; Knotted latticework panels decorating the inside of a meeting house.
Tupuna Ancestors; of great spiritual importance to Maori.

Uni; University
Ute; Car-sized pick-up truck, short for "utility".


Varsity; University.

Wacky backy; Marijuana
Were you born in a tent; Meaning, close the door behind you
Wharfie; Dockside worker
Woobly; Tantrum
Wahine; Woman.
Waiata; Maori action songs.
Wairau; Spirit.
Waratah Stake, a term used to describe snow poles on tramps.
Waka; Maori canoe.
Wero; Challenge before entering a marae.
Whakapapa; Family tree or genealogical relationship.

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