Kia ora

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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

Kia ora (Māori: [kia ora], approximated in English as /ˌkə ˈɔːrə/ KEEOR) 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 or "hello" at the Māori Language Commission website Kōrero Māori.


It might be used as a salutation, a farewell or an expression of thanks.[1] 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.[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, with a 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]


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 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.[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]


Kia ora has a similar meaning to the word kia orana, found in 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.