Accents and dialects: I either understand them or I don’t, but I am definitely not good at figuring out where people come from. Listening to a Kiwi on the phone, I pretty much detect the accent and love it. Meeting the same person face-to-face, s/he sounds differently and the accent is often not so strong.

However, what I can make out are words and phrases commonly used in New Zealand. My collection up to date is not so large as I have been in the country only for 3 weeks and do not constantly engage in conversations with Kiwis but people from around the world. What I already picked up are the following:


“Hey mate, how are you doing?” “Come on in mate.”
–> used as a generic for men and also women. Also in “my mates came…” as in “my friends came…”


A: “I got this to work.” B: “Sweet.”
A: “Where do you live?” B: “Close to the CBD [Central Business District].” A: “Sweet.”
–> used as affirmative and to express a positive opinion on the topic, e.g. “That’s cool.” “That’s great.” “Good.”
The sales guy of my phone provider answered almost every single sentence of mine with “sweet”. 😉

no worries

A: “Thanks a lot for your help.” B: “No worries.”
–> used in the sense of “you are welcome” or “don’t mention it”

3 in 1

And the best is that you could use all three expressions in one conversation turn:
A: “Thanks to your information, I found the correct information.”
B: “Sweet. No worries, mate.”

You can come up with unique Kiwi terms doing a simple Google search. Even back in the day before Google, I created a Kiwi English dictionary for a friend by doing some online searches. However, as my internet connection has not yet been established at home, I can’t check if I could find a site with background information on these three expressions and can thus just voice my observations.


Today I learnt a new word: chur (for pronunciation check out this video). It’s an all-purpose word and can also be used for “hello, goodbye” among others.

CC BY-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

5 thoughts on “Words and phrases of Wellington

    1. It’s much more than that. It can also mean “sure”, “no worries”, “you are welcome”, “don’t mention it”. It’s a very versatile word and more than “hello” and “goodbye”.

    2. It’s much more than that. It can also mean “sure”, “no worries”, “you are welcome”, “don’t mention it”. It’s a very versatile word and more than “hello” and “good-bye”.

  1. Kristina,
    This sounds interesting. In Aussie term, good day mate. In Canadian term, hiya.
    In Chinese term, “li ho” meaning “good on you” or “you are fine”
    How about your customary greeting?
    Would accent be different than that of written English? I am coming from a non-English speaking background, and my writing and speaking are significantly different, I suppose, at least when I reflect upon. Does it sound the same to you when I speak, based on these written response? Would my “tone” change as I speak? Would there be nuances between spoken and written English?


    1. Hi John,

      You raise a number of interesting questions that linguists have been grappling with for ages. 🙂 Chur is much more than a greeting. It is almost like a universal word that you can use in multiple contexts. Now that I know of it, I hear it around me more. Or maybe my colleagues just use it more to demonstrate when it can be used. 😉

      We don’t have such a universal word in German.

      As you have experienced yourself, written English is different from the spoken one and you spell words differently than you pronounce them. It’s a bit easier with German in that regard.

      Speaking a language often reveals much more than written language because you don’t just speak but also use gestures, inflection and so on to convey your meaning. In writing you would have to resort to different means that are often much more open to interpretation and misunderstanding, especially if you use well hidden humor that the other person doesn’t detect and gets offended even though that was never your intention.

      And some words are not used in writing that you use in spoken language all the time. I think that “chur” is one of those words which you can find a lot in spoken Kiwi English but not in formal written English.


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