New Zealand has 3 official languages: English, Maori and New Zealand Sign Language. 98% of the people speak English, whereas only about 14% speak Maori. Their English is influenced by Australian English, the British and also the Maori language. In terms of pronunciations, it is most similar to Australian English, with some differences in some vowels. In the New Zealand English vocabulary, you will also come across some terms which are not found in dictionaries. Such as “bach” (a small holiday property along seaside), “haka” and “Boohai”.
Maori, also known as te reo Maori, is the official language of the indigenous population of New Zealand. As it is similar to the Cook Island Maori, Tuamotuan and Tahitian, it is classifies within the Eastern Polynesian languages and is recognised in 1987.
National Anthem in Maori and translated
To learn more about the Maori language, click here for more info: http://www.maorilanguage.net/
Due to the influenced from the Europeans, English has become the first language in school. Thus, fewer and fewer people are able to speak Maori, especially in the more urbanised cities like Auckland. Despite this, Maori is still a community language in some predominantly-Maori settlements, such as in the Northland, Urewera and East Cape areas. There are kindergartens throughout New Zealand that immersed Maori into the daily activities. A large number of Maori also raise their children bilingually.
Most government buildings have bilingual names. Places such as public libraries and government offices. For example, the Department of Internal Affairs with the Maori name: Te Tari Taiwhenua.
The New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) is used by the Deaf community in New Zealand. It first came about when deaf immigrants from Britain arrived in New Zealand. Thus, NZSL is similar to the British Sign Language (BSL) with the inclusion of some Maori concepts and names of places in New Zealand. (Such as Rotorua – mudpools and Auckand – Sky Tower). It became an official language in April 2006.
Some basic hand signs... Can you spell your name?
(For a larger image, click on the image itself)
New Zealand uses the 3-tier model for education: primary, secondary (high school) and tertiary education at universities / polytechnics. Children start school when they are 5 years old. Their schools use the year number to identify their education levels. Though there may be overlapping of years between primary and secondary.
Age 5-11: Primary School (Year 1-6)
Age 11-13: Intermediate School (Year 7-8)
Age 13-18: Secondary School (Year 9-13)
Primary and secondary education is free in New Zealand and it is compulsory between ages of 6 and 16.
New Zealand’s education is also ranked 7th best in the world, by the Programme for International Student Assessment. (For more information on the Programme, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment)