Kiwi slang: my amusement and confusion as a Canadian in New Zealand

I love hearing the many unique English expressions found around the world while traveling. I generally find them amusing cause they just sound funny compared to what I’m used to. Living in New Zealand for over eight months, I’ve enjoyed a lot of new kiwi ones.

My favorite kiwi slang are the short forms “could do”, “should do” and the rarer “you do”. For example, the expression “could do” might imply with two simple words: “yes, that is an excellent option. We could do that and I will consider it”. I haven’t gotten used to these yet and so they still bring a smile to my face each time. In other cases, I’ve struggled with a new word like jandals which is kiwi for flip-flops. I’ve admittedly been resisting adopting that one.

One of the sources of much of my confusion in New Zealand is best explained through pictures.


Canada: tomato sauce. New Zealand: tomato sauce.


Canada: ketchup. New Zealand: a catch-up.

In my Canadian accent at least, these sound the same. As I struggled to remember, tomato sauce is actually something you should bring to a BBQ and Kiwis don’t actually get together with friends to eat ketchup – despite how well it goes with everything.

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