Kia ora

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

Kia ora is a Māori language greeting which has entered New Zealand English. It means, literally, have life be well/healthy and is translated as an informal hi at the Māori Language Commission website Kōrero Māori.


It is also used as a farewell and expression of thanks.[1] The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage website NZ History lists it as one of 100 Māori words every New Zealander should know, with a definition "Hi!, G'day! (general informal greeting)".[2]

It also signifies agreement with a speaker at a meeting, as part of a culture which prizes oratory. These other Māori greetings, tēnā koe; tēnā kōrua; and tēnā koutou (respectively, one; two; and three or more people), are also widely used.[3]

Likewise, 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.[citation needed]


The word is similar to the word, kia orana, found in some Pacific Island languages, such as Cook Islands Māori, having a similar meaning.[4]


In 1984, at a time when the use of Māori phrases was as yet uncommon in New Zealand, an Auckland telephone operator 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, is credited with successfully convincing the Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, to overturn that prohibition.[5]


New Zealand's national airline, Air New Zealand, uses Kia Ora as the name for its inflight magazine.[6] Water Safety New Zealand has a specific Maori 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.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Ngā Mihi – Greetings". Kōrero Māori. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "100 Maori words every New Zealander should know". Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Ngā Mihi – Greetings". Kōrero Māori. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Rarotonga". The Cook Islands website. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  5. ^ Crean, Mike (22 December 2012). "Rob Talbot dies, top advocate for Sth Canty". The Timaru Herald. Retrieved 15 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "KiaOra Air New Zealand inflight magazine". Bauer Media Group. Retrieved 3 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "Maori". Water Safety New Zealand. Retrieved 3 December 2013.