“Sweet as” Migrants taught the intricacies of Kiwi English

Harumi Renz is one of a dozen local migrants improving their spoken English skills with Multicultural Tauranga.

Sweet as, flash, stink, knackered and wicked. We all know what those words mean, right? Wrong. If you’re learning to speak English in New Zealand it’s enough to make you pack a sad.

Cam’s mum told us an entertaining tale about when she was helping new immigrants to learn English through her church. She was using children’s books and she was totally stumped when one gentleman turned to her and asked, ” What does, the hair on my chinny chin chin mean?”

A group of Tauranga migrants has been attending a ?Professional Speaking for Migrants’ course over the past 10 weeks in preparation for an examination that will see them deliver a short speech in front of an audience this weekend.

Harumi Renz is one of these migrants and was in the throes of preparing her speech when The Weekend Sun visited.

Although she has lived in New Zealand for 17 years, the Japanese mother of two is not confident in her spoken English.

?Public speaking is not an easy thing for me so I wanted to improve it. At the moment it’s only for personal reasons but it will be useful if I have an interview for a job, or need to talk in the community.

?I had thought of joining Toastmasters but I thought this course was a good fit for me since I’m not a native speaker and it is for migrants.?

Harumi has found the course very helpful.

?I have learned to be more relaxed in front of people and learned some New Zealand idioms that I didn’t know the meaning of in the beginning.?

Course presenter Pieter de Zwart from Multicultural Tauranga says this is the first time the Speech New Zealand course has been run in Tauranga.

[…] We touch on confidence-building and body language, how to ask questions and listening skills. There’s role play and information on how to behave in job interviews.?

Pieter says all of his students are highly motivated and see the great value of the course.

?I can definitely see their progress, even though some of them think they haven’t changed much. I tell them ?trust me, you have’.

Pieter has also enjoyed teaching them some New Zealand idioms which would have once ?floored? them. ?They get it now.?


Just for fun here is a list I’ve put together of Kiwi idioms. Looking at them you can imagine how confusing some of them would be for new immigrants.

  • Hangi
  • Zed
  • Hire
  • Jandals
  • Jersey/Jumper
  • Ring
  • Kia Ora
  • Yack
  • Kiwi
  • Ta
  • Stuffed up
  • Kumara
  • Mate
  • OZ
  • Pakeha
  • Morning tea
  • Nick
  • Sickie
  • lollies
  • No worries
  • Hit the sack,
  • Sweet as,
  • Togs
  • Ripped off,
  • Rubbish
  • Smoko
  • Wicked
  • lolly
  • Lounge
  • Heaps
  • Nana
  • Loo
  • Cardie
  • Bench
  • College
  • Crook
  • Flat
  • Cuppa
  • Dodgy
  • Catch ya
  • Give us a bell
  • Fair enough
  • Fair go,
  • Aussie
  • Cuz
  • Daylight robbery
  • Dear
  • Biscuit
  • Boot
  • Dairy
  • Dork
  • Choice
  • Good as gold
  • Catch ya later
  • Cheers
  • Flat
  • Aotearoa
  • duvet