New Zealand Language


This is the time to put the languages of New Zealand’s under the microscope. I want share here detailed information about what languages are spoken in New Zealand to where their speakers reside. 

So, here we go. 

What Languages are spoken in New Zealand? 

English is the most widely spoken language in New Zealand, but it is the not only most spoken language in the country. Te Samoan ,eo Māori, Mandarin and Hindi all languages have a sizeable number of speakers. Actually, there are 7 numbers of languages that are spoken in New Zealand (in addition to English language) that have speaker populations of 50,000 people or more. I’ll take a detailed look at each of these below.

New Zealand official Language? 

Ok , Let’s start with the 3 New Zealand official languages. And these languages are English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language. For numerous years, English language was the only official language in the country. However, Te reo Māori (also simply called ‘Māori’) in 1987 was finally recognised as a New Zealand official language. In 2006 New Zealand sign language followed suit. 

A Brief History of New Zealand Language

Māori language was the dominant language in New Zealand Until the early 19th century, having arrived there from the Society Islands region of Eastern Polynesia or from the southern Cook many hundreds of years previously. 

until around 1800 Māori language developed in isolation , when English-speaking colonists arrived in New Zealand. By the middle of that century increasing numbers of Māori speaking people had learned English language, and with schooling and education system increasingly filtering out the use of their indigenous language. 

By 1900, much greater emphasis was placed on learning the English language, with the pace of Māori’s lessen accelerating quickly between the 1940 and 1980 thanks to discriminatory attitudes and policies. As a result of suppression of Māori in New Zealand language remains a contentious issue to this day. 

To promote the use of language from the early 1980s onward, a lot of Māori language recovery programs have been implemented. They have succeeded to slow down the speed of decline but not reverse it, with the result of these programmes now only around 4% of New Zealanders speak te reo Māori. 

A Complete List of New Zealand Languages

After that rapid history lesson, let’s take a detailed look at some of the most widely spoken languages in New Zealand. 


What language do they speak in the country of New Zealand more than any other language?  So, here is the answer of this query that would be English language, which is spoken by 95.5 percent population of country. 

In terms of the 3 official languages of New Zealand English language is far from the oldest and ancient but, it is spoken either as a second language or natively by almost the entire country’s population. 

New Zealand’s English language has its own incorporates vocabulary and distinctive accent that is not found in American, British, or in Australian English. And special words are spoken for identity like in English language media words such as tangata whenua and iwi, for example, are routinely used without accompanying translation (and they mean people of the tribe and land, respectively). 

TripAdvisor sums up NZ English by saying that:

“English language is spoken throughout New Zealand, although there are many local phrases and acronyms that may confuse foreign visitors.”

These all words are not only drawn from te reo Māori. In New Zealand if you’re looking for a small convenience store, for example, you will have to ask for where the ‘dairy’ is (and not a cow in sight). And A ‘Coaster’ is not something you put your drink on, but it is a resident of the South-Island’s West Coast. ‘jandals’ are flipflops, ‘Gum boots’ are wellingtons, and ‘hoon’ could refer to either the way someone is driving or a hooligan. 

Its sufficient to say, if you’re visiting New Zealand and who is an English speaker be ready along the way for surprises and to pick up a few new words and phrases. 

Te Reo Māori language

How many of New Zealand people speak Māori? In spite of being the predominant New Zealand language for centuries, te reo Māori language is spoken by just 4 percent population of the country today. That still makes it the 2nd most spoken language in the country and native New Zealand language, but number of speakers continue to decline in the country. According to 2018 census recorded 185,955 Māori speakers in New Zealand. 

By Using the Latin alphabet Māori is written, in the early 19th century as introduced by missionaries, who found that the language of Māori didn’t have an indigenous writing system.  

There are number variations/dialects of Māori language, all of which are mutually intelligible to the Māori fluent speakers. While idioms, vocabulary, and pronunciation vary across Māori’s variations, But the grammatical structure of the language remains consistent. 

In support of the revival of Māori language different programs were started as mentioned before, and for keeping this language active. Initiatives, over the past few decades have aimed to increase the use of the Māori both at home and in public places and in business settings as well. Māori language week (Te Wiki o te reo Māori) has been celebrated since 1975, to raise the general awareness of the cultural importance and historic of the language. 

Kōhanga Reo (language nests) movement is an another notable Māori revival projects, which was launched in 1982 and aiming of that project is to immerse infants in Māori between their birth and school age. Families, Children, and respected elders gather together to talk, learn, play, and pray, all in te reo Māori language, thus growing the important community links as well as building language skills. 

Kaupapa Māori project was another important project, which developed primary and secondary Māori-language immersion schools of New Zealand. With the Māori language as their primary language of the instruction, the promotion of these schools and institutes can be attributed to the success of the Kōhanga Reo initiative (and it has also inspired the other same kind of projects in New Zealand for other minority languages, including the Fijian, Hawaiian, and Tongan language). 

While this kind of projects have slowed the decrease of te reo Māori  language, but still needed greater effort if speaker numbers are ever to begin rising again. 

Samoan Language

Samoan is another language spoken in New Zealand country, which is spoken by 101,937 people in New Zealand, according to the census of 2018. That’s just over 2 percent of the New Zealand’s total population, and this way making the Samoan language the third most spoken language of NZ languages. 

Approximately 64 percent of ethnic Samoan New Zealanders speak Samoan language. A number of initiatives are in place to encourage Samoan langauge in the country of New Zealand, from varying the levels of language classes to the Samoan Language Week. 

Samoan language bears a little bit resemblance to a number of other languages, including Ilocano language, which is the 3rd most spoken native (indigenous) language of the Philippines country.

Mandarin Language 

In New Zealand there are 95,253 Mandarin speakers, and this way making this the 4th most spoken language in the country of New Zealand. The big number of Mandarin language speakers in common with most Chinese language speakers in the country of New Zealand, live in the Auckland. 

In recent years the reporting of Mandarin speakers in the country of New Zealand has caused some tensions. Raymond Huo(a famous paerson), giving his opinion for the New Zealand Chinese Language Week Trust, told that, “Treating the Mandarin langauge, Yue dialect or the other Chinese dialects as independent languages in the country is deeply flawed”. 

In spite of this, Statistics in the country of New Zealand continues to count Mandarin language, Yue dialect and other Chinese speaking languages separately, with the census GM Denise McGregor pointing out that: :

“It’s incredibly useful to know that at a specific library, in a school zone, or on a particular bus route while traveling there will be people who speak specifically Mandarin or Chinese language. Just knowing they speak ‘Chinese’ language isn’t likely to be as useful in targeting services in the country.”

Hindi Language

2018 Census in the reports that there are 69,471 Hindi language speakers in the country of New Zealand. And the number of Hindi language speaker growing quickly, and this number is more than tripled since 2001, And that time New Zealand was home to just 22,759 Hindi language speakers. 

French Language

At the time of 2018 census the number of French language speakers in New Zealand was 55,116 – and a marginal rise compared to the 49,000 French language speakers recorded there in 2001. 

 In New Zealand French language is celebrated by multiple language and culture groups, whose team members meet up in persons and online promote to actively the use of the French language and celebrate their culture in the country. 


Its spoken by Just over 1% of the population of New Zealand. That equates to 52,767 speakers in country. As with other Chinese languages and dialects in the country of New Zealand, Yue dialect speakers have jumped in recent years – back in 2001 number of speakers just 37,143 in country. 

Chinese Language

Today Chinese language number of speakers are 51501 in New Zealand. A catch-all ‘Sintic’ classification in the country of NZ census records speakers of Chinese languages and dialects other than the  Yue and Mandarin. In 2001, there were 22,854 Sintic language speakers in the country of New Zealand, that’s why now spoken figure has more than doubled. 

New Zealand Sign Language

Referred to as te reo Turi in Māori language, Sign Language of New Zealand is one of the 3 official languages of New Zealand. This sign language is spoken by around 0.5% of the country’s population, at the time of 2018 census there were 22,986 speakers in the country. 

The sign language of New Zealand has many similarities to Australian sign language, British Sign Language and US Sign Language. The similarity level of NZ sign language with the British Sign Language stands at 62.5%, compared to 33% with US Sign Language. 

As with the English language spoken in country, The Sign Language of New Zealand incorporates Māori words, For Example tangi (a formal funeral rite held on a marae) amd marae (a fenced-in area of land and carved buildings that serves as a community focal point).

Languages with Fewer than 50,000 Speakers in New Zealand

In Country’s last census a range of other languages spoken in New Zealand were recorded. Those languages with between 25,000 and 50,000 speakers in country include: 

Tagalog, German, Spanish, Afrikaans, Tongan, Punjabi, Korean, Fiji Hindi languages.

Languages with 10,000 to 25,000 speakers in the country, meanwhile, include: 

Japanese, Dutch, Gujarati, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese, and Tamil. 

And when it comes to the languages with 10,000 or fewer speakers, New Zealand is home to the following languages:

Italian, Thai, Malayalam, Malaysian, Cook Islands Māori, Urdu, Vietnamese, Khmer, Sinhala, Fijian, Persian, Indonesian, Min, Telugu, Serbo-Croatian, Marathi.

New Zealand Languages by Region 

Key to understanding any country’s linguistic makeup is looking at which is the particular language is spoken in which area of the country. In New Zealand English being the primary language by such a clear margin, it is unsurprisingly and undoubtedly the most spoken language in all 67 of the country’s cities and in the districts. In 60 of those cities, the 2nd most commonly spoken language in New Zealand is Māori. 

Let’s look rapidly then at those last 7 cities and districts of the country. When it comes to language of Auckland, Samoan number of speakers are more than Māori speakers, with Samoan language being the 2nd most spoken language in Porirua and in Auckland city.

Yes, it is French language that is the 2nd most spoken language om Wellington city. Taglog on Ashburton district, German language in the Tasman district and in the Queenstown-Lakes and Mackenzie districts, After English Spanish is the 2nd most spoken language. 

Wrap Up 

In many ways language can be an emotive issue and this is certainly the case with the language in the country of New Zealand. For several centuries, while the primary language of New Zealand hasn’t been Māori language, we are just trying to understand what a big loss that represents. This is why as a key language of New Zealand more must be done to promote the speaking of Māori language in the country. It’s inclusion as 1 of the country’s official languages is a start, but It is just a start. 

Why is it so important to protect a language? Well, there are many reasons, but the chief reasons among them are the intrinsic links between the language and culture. As the Māori language is lost, so too is Māori values, history, culture, and practices. And all around the world we see this echoed, with indigenous (native) tongues being added to the list of extinct languages with alarming regularity. And for preserving them all we don’t have time, but increased focus and our interest on preserving these languages will help at least some of these languages to grow and flourish once more. Let’s hope that Māori language is one of them and we will try our best to grow it again. Please let us know in contact form what we can add more in this article for you and how can we help you. And if anyone having more knowledge about these language they can help us to publish the updated information for the world community thanks.

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