As I understand it, the Maori greeting "kia ora" is used by many New Zealanders.

How likely is this greeting to be used in New Zealand English by people who don't speak Maori?

On one end of the scale, it could be in common, everyday use. On the other end, it could be something only bilingual Maori/English speakers use while code-switching between Maori and English.

(Someone with experience conversing in New Zealand would be able to answer this question much better than someone who's never set foot in that country.)

  • Perhaps you should specifically ask users to mention if they have had any personal experience talking with New Zealanders, you don't necessarily have to have visited the country to know whether native speakers use that form of greeting. I once had a colleague from New Zealand, and she never once used that term. But that is one single case, and we were both living in Italy at the time. She was more likely to say ciao than helloooo! – Mari-Lou A Nov 8 '15 at 12:30
  • You don't need to speak the language to use a phrase from it. "Que?" (popularized by Fawlty Towers), "Ciao" (as per Mari-Lou's comment), "C'est la vie.", "La vie en rose", ... Your question can only be answered by observing the culture of New Zealand, which doesn't really fit with the theme of ELU (and it's not even English at any rate). – Flater Aug 31 '17 at 12:45
  • @Flater, I think a question about borrowings in New Zealand English is entirely on-topic for this site. – Joe Aug 31 '17 at 13:05
  • @Joe: Usage does not always denote borrowing. "Que?" is not a borrowing in English, but it can still be used colloquially due to Fawlty Towers having popularized it. Latin sayings are not borrowed by another language just because they are understood by both the speaker and listener. (non-Maori) kiwis using "kia ora" doesn't mean their language (English) borrows the word. You asked "how likely is it to be used?", not "is it a borrowed expression in English?". The latter question is on topic, but the former question completely hinges on New Zealand's culture, not necessarily their English. – Flater Aug 31 '17 at 13:14

It appears that some Maori expressions, such as "Kia ora" are common usage in New Zeland according to the following sources:

New Zealand English by Jennifer Hay,Margaret Maclagan,Elizabeth Gordon:

  • In the mid-1980s a Maori telephone operator was censured for using the standard Maori greeting kia ora. Twenty years later the use of kia ora is completely unremarkable. It is regularly used.

From Wikipedia:

  • "Kia ora" (literally "be healthy") is a Māori term of greeting, meaning "hello" or "welcome". It can also mean "thank you", or signify agreement with a speaker at a meeting. The Māori greetings "tēnā koe" (to one person), "tēnā kōrua" (to two people) or "tēnā koutou" (to three or more people) are also widely used, as are farewells such as "haere rā".

  • The Māori phrase "kia kaha", "be strong", is frequently encountered as an indication of moral support for someone starting a stressful undertaking or otherwise in a difficult situation. Although previously in common usage it became an iconic

From The Godzone Dictionary: Of Favourite New Zealand Words and Phrases:

  • Kia ora: (Maori) A versatile Maori term of greeting and approbation. It is often thought to mean hello, but although it is used as a greeting it is more accurately translated as a 'hope for good health'.

Ngram Kia ora

  • Actually my "googling" shows that the expression is commonly used, and that answers the question. The reference cited is reliable, while the personal opinion of a native would just be a personal opinion. So unless you collect the opinions of hundreds of natives, that would not be a reliable answer. That's why reference exits. – user66974 Nov 8 '15 at 16:24

It really depends on the person, but there are definitely many people who use Maori expressions without speaking Maori. I'd bet that there are more people who don't speak Maori but use Maori expressions than there are people who speak Maori.

  • Just to confirm, have you spent a lot of time in New Zealand, enough to be authoritative? – Mitch Aug 31 '17 at 3:08
  • 4
    I'm not sure i'd call myself an authority, but I have lived here my whole life – Robbie Mckennie Aug 31 '17 at 7:01

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