New Zealanders are a unique bunch of people. Not surprising when you mix a multicultural society with a location far from the rest of the world.
Here’s our guide to working, going to school and socialising with Kiwis when you move to New Zealand:
Bare feet. It’s not a myth. Many people in NZ do like to walk around without shoes. This wouldn’t be regarded as correct attire in an office. But kids often shed footwear as soon as they arrive at school. And you’ll see people out shopping this way. Even in major cities like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. And particularly in the summer.
Yeah Nah. Kiwis are generally kind hearted and want to help. They don’t like saying ‘no’ directly. Instead you might hear phrases like ‘not sure’ or ‘not really’. The even more confusing ‘yeah nah’, means ‘probably not’. And ‘Yeah right’, especially when it is said in a sarcastic way, means ‘definitely not’!
Bring a plate. Shared morning or afternoon teas are very common at work and schools. It’s a way to celebrate someone’s birthday or other special events like end of term. Everyone contributes something. If you’re asked to ‘bring a plate’, it means please bring some food.
Shouting. If someone is ‘shouting’, it means they are paying for the food or drink. No one will raise their voice! You might ‘shout’ drinks for your team at work to celebrate closing a big deal. A friend might buy you lunch one day, and then you’d be expected to ‘shout’ them next time.
Let’s have a coffee. Drinking coffee (or tea) in cafes is a major part of social and work life. You’ll often have a first conversation with a Kiwi, then they’ll ask you to meet up a for a coffee to get to know you better. This can occur in any setting from mums at school to colleagues at the office. In a work context a coffee can also substitute for an informal business meeting.
The ABs. Or the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team. Sport, and the national obsession with rugby, is huge. Many Kiwis see it as part of their national identity. You’ll hear conversations and passionate opinions about sport everywhere. Most kids play a team sport, often on a Saturday morning, either through school or a local club.
BBQ or barbie. An abbreviation for barbecue. This is the most common way of Kiwi entertaining, particularly in summer. You’ll receive a very informal invitation to ‘drop by the house’ for a barbie, often at short notice. As with most events at people’s homes it’s expected that you’ll contribute some food and drink. Just ask the host what to bring. If they say not to bother, bring a bottle of wine and some snacks anyway.
Finally if you’re curious know more about the origins of Kiwi culture, check out this link to Te Ara, the Dictionary of New Zealand.
The author of this post, Bridget Romanes, is Principal at Mobile Relocation Ltd. Working in partnership with HR and executive teams, Mobile helps bring expat talent into key roles in companies and organisations throughout New Zealand
By sharing our knowledge through this blog we hope to help expats, migrants and their families prepare well for the challenges of relocating to a new country, so they can make the most of the experience that lies ahead.
Our goal is to connect newcomers with what they need to thrive in New Zealand.