Wilderness Wally's Americana
FROM NEW ZEALAND - Originator of the 'Birthday Season'

Currently in Auckland: NZST

Friday, 14th of June 2024


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New/Updated Updated in last 48 hours

Features Stories

Kiwi Terms and Phrases

Please help us keep this list up to date. If we have omitted anything or erred in any way, let us know by using the comment form at the bottom of the sheet or send us an e-mail.
Special Thanks to Actual Kiwi in the Comments.

abs: The All Blacks
All Blacks: The New Zealand National Rugby Union team
aluminium: Link to story
ANZAC: Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (from WWI)
auks: The Auckland rugby team (The Blues)
aussie: Australian
bacon butty: A form of sandwich made from cooked bacon between two slices of bread.
banger: sausage
bach: small holiday home, pronounced "batch"
beehive, The: New Zealand Government Cabinet Building in Wellington
biscuit: cookie
black Caps: National Men's Cricket team
bloke: usually a man, and often used when referring to a stranger
bonnet: car hood
boot: car trunk
boxing day: the day after Christmas Day. This word comes from the custom which started in the Middle Ages around 800 years ago: churches would open their 'alms boxe' (boxes in which people had placed gifts of money) and distribute the contents to poor people in the neighbourhood on the day after Christmas. The tradition continues today.
brollie: umbrella
butty: English slang for a sandwich - Seen in some NZ takeaways
capsicum: green pepper
car park: parking lot
caravan: travel trailer, mobile home
cardy: woollen button-up-the-front jersey (also cardie)
cark it: die, kick the bucket
chips: french fries
cheerio: good bye
cheerios: cocktail sausages
cheers: goodbye or thanks or good luck.
chilly bin: sealable, usually polystyrene insulated box, for keeping beer & food cold
chemist: pharmacy, drug store. Also a euphemism for druggist.
cheque: a check
chook: A chicken
chuffed: pleased
city of sails: Auckland
crib: small holiday home
crisps: Potato chips
crook: sick, unwell
cuppa: cuppa tea, cuppa coffee, cuppa milo
dairy: "corner" store originally only selling milk, bread, papers, convenience foods and dairy produce, and until the past decade or so, the only shop allowed to open 7 days a week. Still is the only shop allowed to open on Christmas day and Good Friday, for a few hours, and without a special license.
ding: a small dent in a vehicle; as in "the prang caused a bit of a ding"
dole: unemployment benefit; income support for the unemployed
dummy: pacifier
dunny: toilet, bathroom, lavatory
duvet: quilt
fanny: * Be careful here; take care how you use this phrase in New Zealand! A "fanny" refers to female genetalia; fanny is not the same as bottom!
flannel: wash cloth
flat: apartment
flicks: movies, picture theatre
footpath: sidewalk
fortnight: two consecutive weeks, derived from 14 days (nights)
good on ya, mate!: congratulations, well done
gridiron: American football
haere mai: welcome
haere ra: good bye
hottie: hot water bottle
I reckon: I think, I think so (Thanks Kim)
ice block: popsicle
iwi: tribal group
jandal: thongs, flip-flops
jersey: sweater
judder bar: speed bump
jumper: woollen pullover sweater
Kiwi: A New Zealander
knackered: exhausted, tired
knickers: underwear
lemonade: 7Up or Sprite
lift: elevator
lolly: candy
loo: bathroom, toilet
loose metal: gravel road
lorry: truck
marae: a gathering place
mate: buddie, pal (not as common as in Australia)
motorway: freeway
Mum: Mom
nana: female grandparent
nappy: diaper
netball: game somewhat similar to basketball
nought: zero
pakeha: non-Maori person
panel beater: auto body shop
pavement: sidewalk
petrol: gasoline
pikelet: small pancake often served with jam and whipped cream
pram: baby carriage, stroller
prang: vehicle accident
pub: bar, hotel where liquor is served
push bike: bicycle
queue: get in line, line up
roundabout: traffic circle *See Below
rubber: eraser
rubbish: trash or garbage
scarfie: university student
sealed road: paved road
serviette: A napkin made of either fabric or absorbent paper, and used to wipe hands & mouth at tea.
shandy: drink made with lemonade and beer
sparkie: electrician
sticking plaster: band-aid
ta: Thanks
TAB: Totalisator Agency Board - Betting shop
tata: goodbye, usually when speaking to a child
take-aways: New Zealand term for 'take-outs' or food 'to go'
tangata whenua: people of the land
tasty cheese: sharp cheddar cheese
tea: dinner - generic name for evening meal
tea towel: dish rag
tip: rubbish dump
todaloo: So long (Thanks Colleen)
torch: flashlight
tucker: food, also a verb form "tucking in" meaning eating a meal.
two of anything finger gesture: Always palm out, never in. The same is true of one of anything.
tyre: tire
verge: grassy area on the side of the road
vest: undershirt
vegemite: spread for toast or bread.
waka: traditional Maori canoe
wellies: gumboots
whanau: family
wharfie: stevedore
whinge: complain
windscreen: windshield
wop-wops: out of the way location (boondocks)
zed: Z; zee; the last letter of the alphabet.

Some old Kiwi expressions you may be interested in, probably not for your list
"She'll be right" "She'll be jake" means It's OK
"beautie" means realy good
"Gross" means bad
"Grouse" means good, I remember it being used to describe a good looking member of the opposite sex
"Hooray" means goodbye
John Boland

*Roundabout A British term for traffic circles which an American had a hand in putting to use. It was a term invented by Logan Pearsall Smith, an American living in England, who was one of the members of the BBC Advisory Committee on Spoken English that operated in the 1920s.

This committee was tasked with the responsibility of deciding questions of pronunciation, usage, and even vocabulary for the BBC. Before Smith came along and recommended a change, traffic circles in Britain were called (believe it or not) gyratory circuses.

Smith also recommended 'traffic lights' be called 'stop and goes' and brainwave be replaced by mindfall. These suggested changes, obviously, didn't make the grade.

American visitors to New Zealand will notice a different pronunciation of words as well as spelling and meaning. If you wonder why the person behind the counter is a 'clark' and not a clerk, consider this:
At a time when America was beginning to be colonized the British who travelled to the new land brought with them a 'snapshot' of the English language. It was from these beginnings that American English began to be formed. It was also a time when the English language was going through a dramatic change in England itself, especially in the pronunciation of long vowels.

For instance, Chaucer's lyf, pronounced 'leef', became Shakespeare's life pronounced 'lafe' and that became life (as we know it.) Pun intended.

One of the changes was the pronunciation of many er words as ar. The Elizabethans were rhyming serve with carve and convert with depart. In England this practice survives in a few everyday words such as derby, clerk, and (with modified spelling) heart but in most other cases has changed to the er pronunciation. In America, derby and clerk changed with the others but the only common word lasting the test of time is heart.

So there was a time, and not that long ago, when Americans pronounced clerk as clark, derby as darby, marcy for mercy and marchant for merchant. As late as the 1740s Pope was rhyming obey with tea, ear with repair, give with believe and join with divine. In fact, sometimes it was easier to change the spelling than it was to change the pronunciation just as Hertford, Connecticut became Hartford.
NOTE: On this issue, please see the comment received below.
Not to put too fine a point on it;
The Online Etymology Dictionary suggests:
O.E. Heortfordscir, from Herutford (731), lit. "ford frequented by harts."
In 1637, the name "Hartford" was chosen to honor the English town of Hertford.
I would appreciate a cite of the name change to Hertford from Hartford.

It seems, even more so, that the name Hartford comes from the pronunciation of Hertford rather than its actual spelling.

So you see, while Americans are asking why the Kiwis say 'clark' the Kiwis could ask; "Why did you go and change it clerk?" Of course we could change the spelling to 'cleark' like we did heart and both would be the same.

The All Blacks (ABs)
The first thing one should know about New Zealand is the name of our national Rugby Team, The All Blacks. Rugby union is New Zealand's national sport and some believe, religion. There are a couple of versions of the story on how the All Blacks got their name but there is one that is generally regarded as the most probable:

New Zealand's national team was on a tour of Britain in 1905. In one particular match, they beat the opponents 60-0. A Daily Mail reporter in his dispatch said; "... the whole team played with precision and speed as if they were all backs." This was printed as 'All Blacks'. From 1901 the team's jersey and shorts were black, so the new name - even if accidental - was appropriate, and stuck.

When in New Zealand, if you hear the term ABs, it is the All Blacks that are being referenced. Nothing else, believe me. They have a winning record against any team they have ever played.

Kia ora:
The visitor to New Zealand will hear the term kia ora quite often. Visitors are encouraged to use 'kia ora' as an everyday greeting. 'Kia ora' can be used any time you would say 'hi' or 'hello'; it's fine to use in person or on the phone, at work, in groups, teams or just one-on-one. Maori language and culture are an integral part of our national identity, our unique point of difference as a country.

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Actual Kiwi said:

New Zealanders really don't say lorry instead of truck. We say truck. The English say lorry but we know what it means and some older people may use the term. We do have a 'ute' (yoot), which is like a small flat bed truck type thing. Anything bigger than a 'Ute' is a truck. A really big truck is sometimes called a mack truck.

Most of our TV is from the US so our language is a bit more americanised these days. However we also know what a lot of english words mean and these sometimes are used. Either in jest or as habit from older family members.

An example here would be that in the UK the word pants are used for underpants only and they say trousers for actual slacks/pants. In NZ we say pants like the US referring to actual trousers and underpants/undies/underwear. Knickers are sometimes used here but not as common anymore.

Sorry...I could go on for hours.

Mr Pedantic said:

Re. "In fact, sometimes it was easier to change the spelling than it was to change the pronunciation just as Hertford, Connecticut became Hartford."

I don't think this is correct. Hartford, Connecticut was named after the English town Hartford, the birth place of one of its founders. It was the English town that subsequently changed its spelling to Hertford in the 18th century.

bird of paradise said:

Here's a NON - bleeper! 'Tucker' - a noun for food (ie dog tucker), but also a verb form "tucking in" meaning eating a meal. I think it derives from "tucking in a napkin", I mean serviette!!

WW said:

Cal Sus - I expect 'everybody' to read it all and warn of tests to be given later! The word 'tasty' may be confusing you. It is used as the word 'sharp' is used in the US. Me mislead you? Never.

California Sus said:

Don't think I believe the "tasty cheese" one. Was that a check to see if everyone read them all?

WW said:

Cal Sus - Yes, it means the same here. Mrs W came to NZ when she was 11. Said the same thing at dinner with her Grandparents! Got a right telling off too! I'll put it here but have to word it carefully.

California Sus said:

A friend of mine visited Australia to meet her new inlaws. After she had her meal she pushed herself away from the table and said "I'm stuffed". Does it mean the same thing in NZ as it does there?

California Sus said:

Love this. Some of them are from England, but some are different than England or the US

Kim Daly said:

I reckon! I think, I think so..

DK said:

Just Another Friendly Aucklander = Bleep?


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