New Zealanders find it irritating that foreigners say that
their accents are just like those of Australians. If you've
lived in New Zealand for some time, you'll find out for
yourself they’re different. It’s a good idea to pick up a
few useful tips on the accent of New Zealanders.
First of all, local people of New Zealand like to think that
their country has no regional distinctions in accent; that
everyone in the country talks the same way. They will admit
though that those from Southland have an accent that is a
wee bit different. This is primarily because a large number
of those that settled in this area were Scots. This is why
Southlanders have a tendency to roll the "r" sound when they
Quite understandably, the Maori also pronounce English words
with a unique accent. This difference is quite pronounced
when compared with the English of the European descent New
Zealanders. The Maori tend to speak in a more clipped
Although New Zealanders would never admit to it, history has
a way of explaining the similarities between New Zealander
English and that of Australian English.
The prime reason why the New Zealand accent is very similar
to that of the Australians is that the very first European
descent settlers in the country that spoke English were seal
hunters from Australia.
More specifically, they were from Port Jackson or
present day Sydney Harbor which had once been a penal colony. Although later settlers were from Britain, the accent of the
Australian settlers had taken a strong hold on the people of
Nevertheless, inputs from the new settlers (the
Scots, the Welsh, the English, and the Irish) added to what
would later become the New Zealand accent.
What makes the New Zealand accent different from that of the
Australian accent is the tendency of New Zealander English
to pronounce words with short “e” sounds into long “e”
sounds. For example, the word “check” would sound like
“cheek”, “ready” would sound like “reedy”.
The tendency to pronounce “e”s this way seems to occur more
often in the South Island than it does in the North Island.
There is another unique way New Zealanders speak English
that distinguishes it from any other. The short sound of the
letter “a” becomes a short “e” sound”. Thus, “mat” becomes
“met”, “sad” becomes “sed”, “catch” becomes “cetch”, and so
on and so forth. It’s really hardly noticeable but you will
hear it if you listen hard enough.
The classic “day” and “die” misinterpretation is shared by
both New Zealander and Australian English. “Nice day today,
isn’t it?” would sound like, “Nice die to die, isn’t it?”
The final clincher to the argument as to whether what you
are listening to is New Zealander or Australian English is
the way they say the words “fish” and “chips”.
If they pronounce “fish” as “feesh” and “chips” as “cheeps”,
that is Australian; if they pronounce “fish” as “fush” and
“chips” as “chups”, you’re definitely listening to New