New Zealand's language is firstly English, Maori is a second language also spoken by many people in New Zealand.

Directory Shortcut

New Zealand Language

Official Languages

English and Maori are the official languages of New Zealand. Maori became an official language in 1987.

In April 2006, New Zealand became the first country to declare sign language as an official language, alongside Maori and English.

New Zealand Sign Language, or NZSL, is the main language of the deaf community in New Zealand.

Te Reo Maori - the Maori Language

Maori is only used in New Zealand and nowhere else in the world. Despite its official status, the language continues to struggle against being lost.

In the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, Queen Victoria promised the Maori that their language would be protected.

However, Maori language was discouraged in schools, either formally or informally, and some elders can remember being punished for speaking the language. The Maori language was in danger of dying out, as by the 1920's only a few schools taught Maori grammar and many parents encouraged their children to learn English. 'Korero Pakeha' (Speak English) was seen as essential as it was needed for the workplace and other activities.

It is only recently that the Maori language has gathered widespread support. In the present, the Maori language is commonly used in the media and at school.

A recent survey by the New Zealand government shows about 130,000 people speak some Maori.

A visit to New Zealand will introduce you to many Maori place names, such as Onehunga, Whangamomona, Kahikatea and Nguru. There are also many Maori cultural attractions and places that you can visit to meet the Maori people, learn of their heritage and traditions and try their food.

Learn some Maori

The Maori language has a logical structure, with very consistent rules of pronunciation. It consists of five vowel sounds: a e i o u ('a' as in 'car', 'e' as in 'egg', 'i' like the 'ee' in 'tee', 'u' like an 'o' in 'to'). There are eight consonants in Maori similar to those in English - 'h', 'k', 'm', 'n', 'p', 'r', 't', and 'w'. There are also two different consonants - 'wh' and 'ng'. Many Maori pronounce the 'wh' sound similar to our 'f'. The 'ng' is similar to our own 'ng' sound in a word like 'sing', except that in Maori, words can start with 'ng'.

  • Kia ora - Hello
  • Kia ora tatou - Hello everyone
  • Tena koe - Greetings to you (said to one person)
  • Tena koutou - Greeting to you all
  • Haere mai - Welcome
  • Nau mai - Welcome
  • Kei te pehea koe? - How's it going?
  • Kei te pai - Good
  • Tino pai - Really good
  • Haere ra - Farewell
  • Ka kite ano - Until I see you again (Bye)
  • Hei konei ra - See you later

View more information about the Maori culture.

View more key facts and information about New Zealand.

Book Accommodation

Nights

Featured

Introducing the Kiwi VIP Discount Card ASB Foreign Exchange New Zealand Coach Tours New Zealand Self Drive Tours Luxury Tours New Zealand
Bluebridge Cook Strait Ferry

Translate

Travel Competition

Online Games

Tourism Jobs