Languages of New Zealand
|Languages of New Zealand|
|Official languages||Māori (3.7%)
New Zealand Sign Language
|Main languages||New Zealand English (96.1%)|
|Main immigrant languages||Samoan (2.2%)
Mandarin Chinese (1.3%)
|Sign languages||New Zealand Sign Language|
|Common keyboard layouts|
|Source||2013 New Zealand census|
English is the de facto official and predominant language of New Zealand. Almost the entire population speak it either as native speakers or proficiently as a second language. The New Zealand English dialect is most similar to Australian English in pronunciation, with some key differences. The Māori language (te reo Māori) of the indigenous Māori people was made the first de jure official language in 1987. New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) has also been officially recognised since 2006. Many other languages are used by New Zealand's minority ethnic communities.
Official status of languages
English is New Zealand's de facto official language. It is the primary language used for court proceedings, and statutes and other official pronouncements. English is spoken by 96.1 percent of the population.
New Zealand English is mostly non-rhotic with an exception being the Southern Burr found principally in Southland and parts of Otago. It is similar to Australian English and many speakers from the Northern Hemisphere are unable to tell the two accents apart. In New Zealand English the short i (as in kit) has become centralised, leading to the phrase fish and chips sounding like "fush and chups" to the Australian ear. The words rarely and really, reel and real, doll and dole, pull and pool, witch and which, and full and fill can sometimes be pronounced as homophones. Some New Zealanders pronounce the past participles grown, thrown and mown using two syllables, whereas groan, throne and moan are pronounced as one syllable. New Zealanders often reply to a question or emphasise a point by adding a rising intonation at the end of the sentence. New Zealand English has also borrowed words and phrases from Māori, such as haka (war dance), kia ora (a greeting), mana (power or prestige), puku (stomach), taonga (treasure) and waka (canoe). On 2018 February, Clayton Mitchell MP from New Zealand First led a campaign for English to be recognised as a official language in New Zealand.
An Eastern Polynesian language, te reo Māori is closely related to Tahitian and Cook Islands Māori. It is only recently that te reo Maori has gathered widespread support. After the Second World War, Māori were discouraged from speaking their language in schools and workplaces and it existed as a community language only in a few remote areas. However, since the 1970s, the language has undergone a process of revitalisation and is spoken by a larger number of people. Te reo Māori now has official status, with rights and obligations to use it defined by the Maori Language Act 1987. It can, for example, be used in legal settings, such as in court. Of the 148,395 people (or 3.7 percent of the total New Zealand population) who could hold a conversation in te reo Māori in 2013, 84.5 percent identified as Māori.
NZ Sign Language
New Zealand Sign Language also has official status by virtue of the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006. It is now legal to use it and have access to it in legal proceedings and government services. In 2013, 20,235 people reported the ability to use New Zealand Sign Language.
New Zealand has immigrants from European, Asian and Pacific Island countries who have brought their languages with them. According to Ethnologue (as of 2017[update]), the largest groups are Samoan (86,400), Hindi (66,300), Mandarin Chinese (52,300), French (49,100) and Yue Chinese (44,600). In the 2013 census, about 87,534 people did not include English as one of their spoken languages.
The number and proportion of multilingual (people who can speak two or more languages) has continued to increase since the 2001 census. In 2013, the number of multilingual people was 737,910, or 18.6 percent of the population. The highest numbers of multilingual speakers lived in the Auckland, Wellington, and Canterbury regions.
In the 2013 census, the following languages were reportedly spoken by more than 0.1 percent of the population. People could report more than one language, therefore percentages do not add up to 100. Statistics necessarily exclude unusable responses and those who spoke no language (e.g. too young to talk).
|English (New Zealand English)||3,819,969||96.14||+0.24|
|Yue Chinese (Cantonese)||44,625||1.12||−0.03|
|Chinese (not further defined)||42,753||1.08||+0.09|
|New Zealand Sign Language||20,235||0.51||−0.12|
|Cook Islands Māori||8,124||0.20||−0.05|
|None (e.g. young children)||67,509||1.70||−0.27|
- Cook Islands Māori, spoken in the New Zealand dependency of the Cook Islands
- Niuean language spoken in Niue
- List of territorial entities where English is an official language
- "2013 Census QuickStats about culture and identity – Languages spoken". Statistics New Zealand. Retrieved 8 September 2016.
- Bardsley, Dianne (5 September 2013). "English language in New Zealand - Characteristics of New Zealand English". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
English, te reo Māori (the Māori language) and New Zealand Sign Language are the official languages of New Zealand.
- New Zealand Government (21 December 2007). International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Fifth Periodic Report of the Government of New Zealand (PDF) (Report). p. 89. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 January 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
In addition to the Māori language, New Zealand Sign Language is also an official language of New Zealand. The New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006 permits the use of NZSL in legal proceedings, facilitates competency standards for its interpretation and guides government departments in its promotion and use. English, the medium for teaching and learning in most schools, is a de facto official language by virtue of its widespread use. For these reasons, these three languages have special mention in the New Zealand Curriculum.
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- Kortmann et al. 2004, p. 605.
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- Kortmann et al. 2004, p. 611.
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- "New Zealand Sign Language Bill 2006". Retrieved 30 August 2017.
- Governor-General gives assent to Sign Language Bill, Press Release: Governor General, 10 April 2006. Retrieved 11 April 2006.
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- "2013 Census totals by topic". Statistics New Zealand. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Crystal, David (2003). The Cambridge encyclopedia of the English language (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521530330.
- Hay, Jennifer; Maclagan, Margaret; Gordon, Elizabeth (2008). Dialects of English: New Zealand English. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 9780748625291.
- Kortmann, Bernd; Schneider, Edgar; Burridge, Kate; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive (2004). A handbook of varieties of English. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-017532-5.