New Zealand has three official languages: English, Te Reo Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language. English is the main language, however around 4% (or 140,000) of people speak Te Reo. This makes it the second most commonly spoken language in New Zealand.
The Māori language is considered a national taonga (treasure) and is undergoing a revival. Initiatives such as Māori Language Week, Māori language schools (from pre-school through to high school) and a Māori language television station all playing a role in making sure Te Reo remains a living language embraced throughout New Zealand.
The traditional Māori greeting, the hongi is performed by two people pressing their noses, and sometimes foreheads, together (pictured). It's used mostly at traditional meetings among Māori people and can be followed by a handshake.
You can help support the language Te Reo Māori by making an effort to get pronunciation right and using simple words and phrases in everyday conversation. Learning basic Māori greetings (mihi) is a great place to start. Try using these anywhere you go in New Zealand - quite often, the response will be a wide smile.
Kia ora - Hello
Morena - Good morning
Tēnā koe - Hello (more formal than kia ora)
Kia ora kōrua - Hello to two people
Kia ora tātou/kia ora koutou - Hello everyone
Tēnā koutou - Greetings to you (said to three or more people)
Nau mai, haere mai - Welcome
Kei te pēhea koe? - How’s it going?
Kei te pai - Good
Tino pai - Really good
Ka kite anō - See you later
Haere rā - Goodbye
As well as being used as a greeting, kia ora is also a general expression of appreciation.
Tēnā koe (to one person), tēnā kōrua (to two people), or tēnā koutou (to three or more people) also means thank you in Māori.
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