Every place has its linguistic quirks, but New Zealand slang is on an entirely different level. In a country where ‘yeah, nah’ is a form of disagreement, ‘tramping’ means hiking, ‘egg’ is a way of calling someone a clown and ‘Kiwi’ is the name of the entire populace, you’re likely to feel a little lost in translation. But not to worry, we’re about to make your trip that much easier by introducing 15 everyday terms you’re bound to stumble across during your travels.
As in: “You can borrow my car tomorrow, mate.” “Oh, chur, mate!”
This is a sign – almost an involuntary exclamation of surprised delight – of extreme gratitude. As in much of the New Zealand lingo, it is understated to the point of perfection. Within this single syllable is encapsulated the meaning found in many a lengthy poem on thanks and heartfelt appreciation. A “chur” may be forthcoming when you really pull a friend out of the stickiest of pickles, or when you unexpectedly prove to be the savior of a stranger.
As in: “Good on ya, mate.”
This one doesn’t really need too much explanation. If you’ve never set foot in New Zealand before and are totally oblivious to what is meant by this particular word, you’ll understand its full scope and range in the Kiwi dialect by the time you’ve exited the airport. Depending on the context and intonation, the words preceding it can carry a host of meaning and gravity. It’s extremely handy when you’ve been introduced to a large group of people and haven’t managed to retain a single one of their names. Men and women have gone years just calling each other “mate” just to avoid the awkwardness of having to ask someone their name again.
Sweet as (sweet-az)
As in: “It’s sweet as, bro, just get it back to me when you can.”
This is a real beauty of a piece of Kiwi lingo, here. It’s versatile and concise and can be used when you’re at a bit of a loss. It can mean “thanks”, “that’s okay”, “no worries”, “you’re welcome”, “nice one”, “congratulations” and “that’s awesome”. 99% of the time it’ll be accompanied with a grin.
As in: “Did you see that try by the All Blacks? That was mean!”
Although, initially, you might think this word has negative connotations, it can actually be employed to describe anything of an awesome nature. Perhaps you win 50 bucks on a scratchie (scratch card)? That’s mean. The All Blacks give Australia a sound drubbing in the rugby? That’s very mean. A golden-hearted bakery worker lets you take home all their remaining pies because it’s the end of the day, even though you only paid for one? Bro, that is mean.
As in: “I wouldn’t eat that pie, mate. It looks a bit sus.”
Short for suspicious, this abbreviation can apply to anything that looks or feels (or is) dodgy, untrustworthy or iffy. It’s the typical understated Kiwi way to describe anything ranging from a Chinese takeaway at 3am to a car hanging off the side of a cliff.
As in: “Nothing like a a slice of white bread, some ketchup and a snag at barbecue.”
Sausages, plain and simple. If someone asks you to pass the snags at any sort of formal gathering, festive occasion or large meal it’s fair to say that a plate of sausages is within your immediate vicinity. Look around, locate the snags and make the transfer. It’s within snag etiquette to snag yourself a snag before passing them on.
As in: “It’s hot! Grab your togs and let’s hit the beach.”
You’ll most likely hear this bit of slang in summer when the weather is balmy and you’re by a nice bit of water. Togs are swimmers or bathers, a swimsuit or board-shorts. Anything, basically, that preserves your modesty and keeps you from getting arrested whilst on a public beach / swimming pool / river.
As in: “How’s your dog? He’s been better. He’s carked it.”
Basically, “carked it” means to die. It can be utilized to describe the mortal status on life’s coil of anyone and anything, whether it be your car, microwave, Uncle Jeremy, hamster or electric drill. If it’s beyond help and resigned to the grave or the scrapheap you can say that it has well and truly carked it.
As in: “I’m feeling a bit rough today. Got a little bit too heavy on the turps last night.”
An abbreviation of turpentine, this bit of slang is used by old drinkers and young drinkers alike. It’s a word normally used when explaining someone’s unforeseen absence from work, as in, “Why’s Jill not in? Was she on the turps last night?” or to describe the exciting prospect of the looming weekend, as in, “Can’t wait for this Friday to be over so we can get on the turps, mate.”
As in: “You should’ve seen Daveo last night, he was munted!” or “What a munter.”
This word is usually employed when describing someone’s inebriated state – that is to say, when someone is the worse for drink. In a nutshell, it can be used in place of all our old colloquial favourites to describe someone who is so plastered they don’t know their arse from their elbow. However, it can also be referred to someone who is a bit of a meat-head. The sort of individual that uses their own eye-socket as a bottle opener would be a fine example of what a Kiwi might call a munter.