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May 2, 2012

Thirteen Examples of Kiwi Speak

Thursday Thirteen

As a New Zealand author, I’m afraid I’m a bit of a trial to my editors. I keep slipping Kiwi speak into my manuscripts, mainly the contemporary and paranormal ones. When I get my edits back there are comments about “head scratching” and lots of question marks. Here are a few you probably haven’t heard before.

Thirteen Examples of Kiwi Speak

1. “Haven’t seen you in yonks!” – This means ages. i.e. I haven’t seen you for a long time.

2. Sweet as – this means yes or I agree. i.e. Do you want to go for a drink? Answer – sweet as.

3. Were you born in a tent? – I heard this one often as it kid. My mother’s way of telling me I’d left the door open and was letting in cold air.

4. He’s on his OE, earning big bikkies in London now. – translation: The man is on a working holiday in London, has a job and is receiving a good wage. OE = overseas experience.

5. Come on, ref, are your eyes painted on? – the referee is making decisions that the audience don’t agree with.

6. Got any chuddy? – they’re asking if you have any chewing gum.

7. Nine girls are running under a wharf and here I am – this is the way we learn to spell Ngaruawahia, the place where the Maori King lives.

8. You make a better door than a window – this means you’re standing in the way of something the speaker is trying to watch i.e. the television or at a sports match.

9. No need to pack a sad – means that the person is having a tantrum or sulking. The speaker is telling them that there is no need to sulk.

10. Oh, give me a break – means that something has gone wrong i.e. you’d say this if you were mowing the lawn and run out of petrol with just a little of the lawn left to mow.

11. Your turn to shout – means it’s your turn to buy a round of drinks.

12. It’s puckarooed – means that something is broken and can’t be fixed.

13. You couldn’t organize a piss-up in a brewery – means the person is useless.

A bonus – Ka pai – this is Maori and means good. Puku – Maori for stomach. I often say, “My puku is full.”

Have you heard of any of these?

Source: Kiwi Speak by Justin Brown.


  1. Jenny Schwartz

    Flippin’ heck, mate, can’t yer speak Ocker?

    Seriously, loved ’em, Shelley. I hadn’t heard the chewing gum one.

  2. Tania.F.Walsh

    Loved reading them… hehe they made me giggle.. I know most of them, and even use some in Aussie land. Hmm one I got caught on the other day by a critique partner from US was when said ‘I was having you on’ :) Made me chuckle.

    • Shelley Munro

      It gets confusing after a while, trying to work out which sayings belong down this end of the world and which ones don’t.

  3. Brinda

    Um…no. I would be scratching my head on all of these. The only ones I could figure out without your definitions:
    #3 sounds like the American saying, “Were you born in a barn?” and #10. :)

    • Shelley Munro

      Ah, my work here is done then! *grin*

  4. jessabelluh

    #8 & #10 are pretty common American sayings, too.

    • Shelley Munro

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Ciara Knight

    Got any Chuddy? I’ve never heard that one. I guess I better study up if I’m going over to New Zealand. :)

    • Shelley Munro

      I used to hear this one a lot as a kid. Not so much now. Maybe because I don’t chew gum much these days!

  6. CountryDew

    Too right! #3, 8 & 10 were familiar but the rest, not so much! Thanks for sharing.

    • Shelley Munro

      I’m glad I didn’t totally confuse you.

  7. Savannah Chase

    I’ve heard a few of these, but not most of them. Thank you for teaching me some new things…

    • Shelley Munro

      You’re all set for a visit now :)

  8. Jennifer Leeland

    Ooooh!!! These are so cool! I love the nine girls are running under a wharf and here I am! Brilliant.

    • Shelley Munro

      I still use this when spelling Ngaruawahia!

  9. Sidney Bristol

    I think #7 was my favorite!

    • Shelley Munro

      Thanks for visiting, Sidney.

  10. Adelle Laudan

    It looks like we are on the same wave length. Love the word, chuddy lol Thanks for sharing. Happy T13!

    • Shelley Munro

      Great minds think alike :)

  11. Ron.

    As noted above, #s 3, 8, & 10 are very familiar to most Americans.

    Puckarooed, though, was totally new to me. I love it, will be using it regularly. Thanks!

    • Shelley Munro

      Puckarooed is such a great word. I like it.

    • Shelley Munro

      There are lots of other sports ones too. It seems refs get abused in every country.

  12. Heather

    8 and 10 are also Americanisms, and — as Brinda said — the US equivelent of #3 is “born in a barn.” Our equivelant of #5 would be to ask if the ref was blind.

    • Shelley Munro

      We use the blind ref one too.

  13. Alice Audrey

    Some of these I could kind of guess, but some I’d be lost without the translation. Thanks.

    • Shelley Munro

      Isn’t it weird how English evolves in different countries.?

  14. The Gal Herself

    I like “pack a sad.” I knew “eyes painted on” and my dad asked me if I was “raised in a barn.”

    • Shelley Munro

      Pack a sad is a common one down here.

  15. Gerri Bowen

    Number 10 I’m familiar with, and number 3 would be, were you born in a barn over here. The rest were new to me, and very cool.

    • Shelley Munro

      Thanks for stopping by, Gerri.

  16. Hollie

    A lot of them are the same as Yorkshire sayings but some are a little different. We were born in barns not tents lol

    • Shelley Munro

      Sometimes we use barns down here but tents are more common.

  17. Amy Gallow

    Eight of them are common across the Tasman as well.
    We add “Back of Bourke” for the far outback, sometimes “beyond the black stump”, and “Two bob short of a quid” which dates itself as an expression of doubt about the subject’s mental competence.
    I am often reminded of my age when I let expressions like these drop and am rewarded with a blank look.

    • Shelley Munro

      I’ve heard the ones you mentioned too. I’m not copping to old though!

  18. Erin

    Chuddy made me laugh. Haven’t used that in years.

    • Shelley Munro

      Hi Erin – it’s one we used to heard a lot at school. Probably you heard it there too.

  19. Maria Zannini

    I hadn’t heard of a single one of them except number 8. Hubby says that to the dogs all the time when they get in front of the tv.

    • Shelley Munro

      And your dogs would do a great job of blocking the TV. At least Bella is little :)

  20. colleen

    Almost as strange as Cockney Rhyming Slang!

  21. Forgetfulone

    I love these! Around here, instead of asking if you were born in a tent, it would be “Were you born in a barn?” Thanks for sharing. This was quite interesting!

  22. Joanne Guidoccio

    Thanks for sharing! They were all new to me.