In three years, I will have lived in New Zealand for two thirds of my life. You’d think, therefore, that the days of hearing “deck” as “dick” and being laughed at for calling jandals “flip-flops” would be long gone.
Just last week, I confused a room full of people by referring to a bottle of Coca-Cola as “pop”.
It never ends. My family immigrated to New Zealand when I was ten years old. I should, by now, be comfortable calling cossies “togs” and crisps “chips”. (And chips “hot chips”.) I simply can’t. I call lollies “sweets”, lollipops “lollies” and ice blocks “ice lollies”. (Or, weirdly, “lolly ices”, which I’ve just read is a Scouse thing. My mum’s from near Liverpool, so that makes sense, I guess.)
I call gumboots “wellies”, kindie “nursery” and sammies “sarnies”.
There are some Kiwi-isms I’ve picked up. I usually, for example, say “dairy” instead of “corner shop”, “college” instead of “high school” and “uni” instead of “college”. Some slang words are the same in New Zealand as they are in Britain. Ta, for example. Some, I honestly can’t remember whether they’re Kiwi, British or both.
“Is that a thing New Zealanders say?” I’ll ask my partner.
I’ll never forget the time I told some English friends I was popping to the dairy to get some milk. I ended up having to explain that a dairy was a corner shop and that, no, most New Zealanders don’t get their milk directly from the nearest dairy farm.
But that’s the vision the rest of the world has of New Zealand, isn’t it? We all live pure, bucolic lives free from traffic, tabloids and crass commercialism. When my partner went on an exchange to France, his host family asked him if he would like a glass of Coca-Cola. When he requested a glass of water instead, they replied, “Oh, of course, because the water is so pure in New Zealand. You’ve probably never even heard of Coca-Cola!”
If you want to read more about New Zealand slang, see 10 Silly Things Kiwis Say.