Rants and Whimsy, Travelling and Poking About

Kiwi words that you ought to know

May 5, 2016


Hi. Welcome to New Zealanders Anonymous. My name is Frankie and I make no bloody sense whatsoever half the time. It’s not my fault though. Since moving to London I’ve realised that I’m reasonably fluent in many different kinds of English, including British English, American English, New Zealand English and even some Australian English. This is due to all the weirdo films and television I was bombarded with from these countries while growing up in New Zealand.

However, I get confused and tend to mush them all into one big language, resulting in my being admonished for using “Americanisms” (god forbid) or just generally using bizarre Kiwi words that my English chums have never encountered before. I know being understood is important, but sometimes I just have to use a Kiwi word or three as there is no proper English alternative. Maybe, instead of me being forced to dim my colourful Kiwi light, you lot could learn a few “choice” phrases and brighten up your lexicon. It’s totally worth it, I promise.

Word: Wop-wops
Noun: Out in the middle of nowhere. The countryside, without all the “rich people, country manor” allusions that come with the British word “countryside”
Example of use:
Person 1: Let’s go visit Steve
Person 2: What? Steve lives out in the wop-wops
Person 1: Are you fucking kidding me?
Person 2: No, we’ll waste half our lives trying to make it out there to see Steve
Person 1: Fuck Steve. If Steve wants friends, Steve should be more accessible.

Word: Puku
Noun: The Maori word for belly. Much kinder to use in belly-based conversation and I find it to be without all the bullshit fat-shaming connotations the English equivalents have.
Example of use:
Person 1: Puku! Puku! Puku! *playfully pokes Person 2 in the belly for each scream of “puku”*
Person 2: *Rolls around on the floor squealing adorably like a little piggy*
(this scenario may actually be taken from real life… I’m not saying I’m Person 2, but in reality I’m totally saying that I am)

Word: Jandals
Noun: A word for sandals that have that piece that goes in between your big toe and the second one
Example of use:
Person 1: I find jandals to be very uncomfortable
Person 2: I did too, but then I spent a stint in Jandal Jail learning to get used to them so that I could get a Kiwi passport
Person 1: Why is this weird, uncomfortable shoe so ingrained in Kiwi culture? It’s not even that hot in New Zealand most of the time?!
Person 2: I for one welcome our casual footwear based overlords and expect not to be held up at customs for defamatory jandal views when re-entering the country later in the year

Word: Squiz
Verb: “Take a squiz” means to take a look at something
Example of use:
Person 1: Giz a squiz (Give us a squiz โ€“ but sped up)
Person 2:ย  You’d like a closer look at my detailed map of the wop-wops surrounding our fine city? Of course, kind sir!
Person 1: Nah, just kidding. Puku! *pokes*

Word: Togs
Noun: Swimming costume.ย  Male or female, one piece or multiples, it doesn’t matter. If you’re going swimming, don’t forget your togs.
Example of use:
Person 1: Let’s go swimming!
Person 2: I didn’t pack my togs. But I could probably buy some โ€“ I hear there’s a shop just down the road that sells togs that make your tits grow unicorn horns!
Person 1: Is that really what you want for your tits? Unicorn horns?
Person 2: Magical tits have always been my signature look when it comes to togs. You know that. Quit getting hung up on the details.

Word: Skite
Verb: to boast/show off
Noun: a person who boasts a lot.
Example of use:
Person 1: She is such a frigging skite.
Person 2: What’s she skiting about now?
Person1: Forever on about those jandals she bought that perfectly match those togs she has that make her tits look like magical orbs of glowing sunshine.
Person 2: What a frigging skite.


If you want to Kiwi up your speech but don’t have the lingo down just yet, simply shorten everything and throw in some baby talk.
Person 1: I’m off to byes. I’m so excited about wearing my new fluoro pyjamas
Person 2: Oooh, do they glow in the dark?
Person 1: They’d better. I’ve been skiting about these for days.

Byes = a shortened version of “beddy byes”, a term small children use for bed
Fluoro = short for fluorescent. Look, it took us 24 hours to even get here, we don’t have time to be spelling out “fluorescent” all over the show, ok?

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  • adales8

    I think “puku” is my favourite of all those terms! The only one I knew before your post was “togs” because Sam uses that for swimming costume as well. x

    • Really? I though it just meant “clothes” in this country.

  • Puku is awesome! I’m going to try and use that today (and not get punched in the face). I think my friends and I use a similar one for describing something out in the middle of nowhere, we say it’s “out in the middle of whoop whoop”.

  • I love talking in a big language mash up! I am really like this wop-wops word, it is all nice and concise and better than what I normally say which is “out in the boonies”.

    • Mash up is the only way I know how to talk ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Haha I love this!

  • “Squiz” makes me giggle b/c it sounds like…something less benign than looking at something. It also probably makes me giggle b/c I’m really only 5 years old.

    • Haha, you definitely don’t want to mix up your squiz and your jizz XD

  • My cousin lives in Auckland, and she taught us “jandals” pretty much as soon as we arrived in New Zealand. Also that hiking is tramping. Jandals are flip-flops in my world ๐Ÿ˜‰

    And yes to shortening everything! My little cousin goes to “Kindy” because of course Kindergarten is sooo long ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Oh yeah, and (swimming) togs is definitely used in North East England, but mostly for male swimming gear, I think. Togs can also just mean clothing, so unless the context is clear people would specify that they mean swimming togs, not just any togs.

    • I totally went to kindy too XD

  • I use squiz quite often – who knew it was Kiwi?!

    • Yeah! Me too! What’s the origin of squiz then?

      • Oooh, when I looked it up I found a heap of Aussie’s & NZers arguing over it. Always a good hallmark of something kiwi ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe it’s in the general consciousness????