The most prevalent and de facto language of New Zealand is English with most, if not all, citizens speaking it as a first or second language. The official languages of New Zealand are Maori and New Zealand Sign Language. English has not yet been given official status in New Zealand although it is the most commonly spoken. English is from the Indo-European family of languages, and the history of speaking English dates back to the 19th century in the country. New Zealand English is considered one of the newest native English dialects and has developed into a uniquely accented language for the past 150 years. The Maori language has had a heavy influence on place names and names of flora and fauna in New Zealand and is often interwoven with New Zealand English.

Approximately 96 percent of the population of New Zealand speaks English as their first language, and 3.7 percent speak Maori as a first language. Approximately 19 percent of the population of New Zealand is considered bi-lingual, and this number continues to climb. The language has had significant influence from Australian, American, and British English as well as an accent that has evolved from the original British colonial settlers. Many in the Northern Hemisphere cannot tell the difference between the New Zealand and Australian accents.

Although New Zealanders speak English, there are a lot of unique phrases to the country that every tourist should know. Tomato Sauce is ketchup is New Zealand and 'sweet as”, means cool, or awesome. If someone from New Zealand calls another individual a mate, it means friend or pal. This is just a few of the particular phrases to this nation.

Minority languages in the country include Samoan (86,400 speakers), Hindi (66,300), Mandarin Chinese (52,300), French (49,100) and Yue Chinese (44,600). Although Maori is an official language of the country, just over three percent of the country speaks it as their first language. Around 90,000 people who live in New Zealand do not speak or understand English.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

More on Graphicmaps