Kia ora

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External audio
Pronunciation at Kōrero Māori, the Māori Language Commission website

Kia ora (Māori: [kia ɔɾa], approximated in English as /ˌkə ˈɔːrə/ KEEOR) is a Māori-language greeting which has entered New Zealand English. It translates literally as "have life", "be well", or "be healthy", and is used as an informal greeting equivalent to "hi" or "hello".


It might also be used as a salutation, a farewell or an expression of thanks.[1] It also signifies agreement with a speaker at a meeting, being as it is from a culture that prizes oratory. It is widely used alongside other more formal Māori greetings such as tēnā koe; tēnā kōrua; and tēnā koutou—used when speaking to one, two, and three (or more) people respectively.[2] The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage website NZ History lists it as one of 100 Māori words every New Zealander should know, and lists the following definition: "Hi!, G'day! (general informal greeting)".[3]

Kia ora can follow a similar pattern to address different specific numbers of people. By itself, it can be used to address any number of people, but by adding koe (i.e., kia ora koe); kōrua; and koutou one can specify a greeting to, respectively, a single; two; or three or more people). Similarly, by following with tātou, one addresses all the people present, including the speaker themselves.[4]

Commercial use[edit]

New Zealand's national airline, Air New Zealand, uses Kia Ora as the name for its inflight magazine.[5] Water Safety New Zealand, a water-safety advocacy organisation, has a specific Māori water safety programme, Kia Maanu Kia Ora, which makes use of the literal meaning of kia ora, as their message translates as stay afloat; stay alive.[6]


In 1984, at a time when the use of Māori phrases was uncommon in New Zealand, an Auckland telephone operator, Naida Glavish,[7] was instructed to stop using kia ora when greeting callers after the post office had received a complaint. She refused to do so and was consequently stood down, with the whole affair attracting much public interest. The Postmaster-General, Rob Talbot, convinced the Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, to overturn that prohibition.[8]

In other languages[edit]

Kia ora has a similar meaning to the word kia orana, found in many related Polynesian languages such as Cook Islands Māori.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ngā Mihi – Greetings". Kōrero Māori. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Ngā Mihi – Greetings". Kōrero Māori. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  3. ^ "100 Maori words every New Zealander should know". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  4. ^ "100 Māori words every New Zealander should know". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 27 May 2018.
  5. ^ "KiaOra Air New Zealand inflight magazine". Bauer Media Group. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  6. ^ "Maori". Water Safety New Zealand. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Naida Glavish – she wouldn't comply". E-Tangata – A Māori and Pasifika Sunday magazine. 6 September 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  8. ^ Crean, Mike (22 December 2012). "Rob Talbot dies, top advocate for Sth Canty". The Timaru Herald. Retrieved 15 March 2015.
  9. ^ "Rarotonga". The Cook Islands website. Retrieved 3 December 2013.