Difference Between New Zealand Accent and Australian Accents

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: August 30, 2022


Difference Between New Zealand Accent and Australian Accents Difference Between New Zealand Accent and Australian Accents

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Language might still be a barrier in some regions but the wonderful thing about humans is the mindset to create peace and harmony among other communities without intentionally offending anyone. The various dialects are a result of this effort since immigration was widely done throughout the 19th century as people from various regions would keep moving in search of livelihood. While there are some significant amount of similarities in the language these countries share, Australians and the Kiwis differ considerably in their pronunciations, slang, and other elements of their language.

New Zealand Accent vs. Australian Accent

The main difference between the Newzealand accent and the Australian accent lies in their origins. Australian accent developed as a mixture of British English and American English. On the other hand, Newzealand accent finds its foundation in Australian English with hints of other regional inputs such as the Welsh, Irish, Scots, British, etc.

Difference Between New Zealand Accent and Australian Accents in Tabular Form

Table: New Zealand Accent vs. Australian Accent
Parameters of Comparison
New Zealand Accent
Australian Accents
Nz accent is said to have been developed and adopted by immigrants who must have entered New Zealand through Britain.
Aus accent is said to have been developed and adopted by natives who began to speak a new dialect by combining those from the British.
Nz accent was developed based on the Australian accent with inputs of various regional accents.
Aus accent was developed as a combination of American English and British English.
This accent is used in all of New Zealand’s areas such as Waiheke Island, Stewart Island, etc.
This accent is popularly used in Western Australia, Southern Australia, Victoria, etc.
New Zealanders tend to switch the pronunciations of the vowel ‘i’ to a pronunciation that sounds like ‘u’.
Australians tend to put more emphasis on the vowel ‘e’ or ‘ee’ when pronouncing it.
Nz uses many slangs such as jandals for flip-flops or tramping for hiking etc.
Aus too uses a lot of colloquialisms such as esky for a water cooler.
Nz has a lesser usage of abbreviations when compared to Australian.
Aussie accent also popularly uses shortened forms of words such as brekkie for breakfast and dins for dinner.
Miscellaneous pronunciations
A bit of British dialect with non-rhotic English.
A pure Australian accent can be placed on the opposite end of the spectrum where American English lies, with non-rhotic English.
The most popular example to describe the New Zealand accent is the pronunciation of ‘fish’ as ‘fush’ or ‘yes’ as ‘yiss’.
There is a wide usage of the shortened vowel æ for words like ‘branch’, ‘sample’, ‘chance’, etc.

What is New Zealand Accent?

New Zealand accent first came into the picture in the late 19th century. It was when a few children in a school started to talk in a strange accent, English but with eccentric pronunciations that stood out from the rest. They noticed a sort of a colonial ‘twang’ in the way they started talking and soon the school inspectors began complaining about the way children spoke at school. The one thing that concerned them the most was the diphthong, which can be described as the sound or speech when one transition from the pronunciation of one vowel to the other such as sour, mouth, hair, etc. Due to this, there was speech training introduced in several primary schools to minimize the accent. However, this did not result in anything significant and had very little effect.

Another strange fact about the origins of the accent was that the people from the past would assume theories about how the accent must have been a result of laziness, eccentric style, or bad influences. However, in the present day, it was theorized that the accent was most probably Australian of the immigrants who were said to have migrated from the South of England. Thus, streams of slang and pronunciations from British English were spiced into the Australian accent, producing the kiwi accent as we hear it today. The accent must have spread amongst the children who must’ve thought it was new and cool and the rest was history. The origin story of the Kiwi accent is also famously referred to as the ‘the children as this was the most popular theory that proved how and why the kiwi accent came to be as we hear it today.

Early Recordings and Their Significance

Another interesting fact about the Kiwi accent that makes it stand out among all others is that it is said to be the first dialect that has its entire development journey recorded on tape. This makes it a very popular talking point among present-day linguists. This incident took place when European settlers who arrived in New Zealand in the late 19th century, relatively late when compared to other migrants, the event coincided with other significant advancements in the field of technology but the most significant, popular, and intriguing one of them all was the invention of tape and tape recorder. This coincidence, however small it may have seemed to researchers at the time of recording, proved to be a valuable boon to the respective field since accents can change quickly if the masses are huge. Thus, this recording proves to be a huge asset to those who strive to acquire some insight into the early stages of a language or a dialect and its various stages of development.

Somewhere in the mid-20th century, around 1940 to be precise, it was recorded that the New Zealand National Broadcasting Service dispatched a truck to drive around the country in populated areas to collect oral samples of histories from the country’s earliest settlers who belonged to a non-Maori background. The recordings were said to contain the settler’s experiences while settling in the nation. Although researchers at the time had no idea of how valuable these recordings would prove to be, linguists have labeled these recordings to be extremely priceless since they not only allow us to study and make inferences about how establishments worked at the time but also about how the accent developed from generation to generation.

Miscellaneous Influences

Somewhere around the late 19th century, the huge gold rush in the South Island in New Zealand, popularly referred to as the ‘Otago Gold Rush’ lured a huge number of miners from Europe, the British Isles, China, and other countries, who made a beeline, a very strenuous and treacherous one in fact, in the hopes of finding riches to make quick money. It is estimated that almost half of these miners who made the long journey over to New Zealand were Irish with a third of the remaining from various regions in England. With a little Scottish influence spiced around, the Kiwi accent developed into what we see today.

Few Examples of Kiwi Accent

Let us look at how common pronunciations work in New Zealand to figure out a way to learn the accent!

  • Most ‘e’ pronunciations are dragged further into an ‘eee’ pronunciation such as river becomes reever.
  • Words that contain an ‘a’ sound will be dragged with an ‘o’ or ‘oa’ pronunciation such as awesome becomes oasome.
  • Other ‘a’ sounds are pronounced with a dragged out ‘e’ such as hands becomes hends.

Let us look at the most popular example i.e., Fish and chips →Fush and Chups



Terms →tombs


Famous Slangs and Abbreviations

  • Bach→beach house/ holiday homes
  • Lollies→Candies/toffees
  • Jandals→flipflops
  • Chilli Bin→ cooler
  • Av→avenue
  • Diary→grocery stores or just diary stores

What is Australian Accent?

Australian English originated around the late 19th century, 1788 to be precise. Through the establishment of the dialect and various stages of development of the same, author Kel Richards writes about his study and research of the country’s accent and the elements that sculpted it to be the way it is now in his famous book ‘The Story of Australian English’. He also popularly states how tracing the story of Australian English from its origin in 1788 to its present-day usage is almost equivalent to studying the nation’s history in itself. Many elements can influence a language, including major events, movements, migrants at various timelines, technological inventions, national conditions, etc. Thus, to study a dialect means to dive deeper and extensive research on elements and factors that were most likely to have influenced the people and what they speak.

It was said around 11 ships sailing from different areas of England arrived in Australia. It was at this point when there was a significant ‘leveling down’ that took place in harmony when all these different groups of people had to slowly cut out the variations in their dialect to make it comprehensible for everyone. Each of these groups slowly lost parts of their dialect that differentiated them the most from the others. Consider it some sort of an adjustment or unofficial linguistic negotiation that slowly formed the Australian accent as we hear it today. However, that was just the beginning of how the Australian accent was first established and came to be known as the earliest form of the dialect.

Similar to the story of children in New Zealand, Australians too had some very curious children who were complained about by school inspectors for their ‘mispronunciation’ which was slater found out to be cultivated from immigrants who would integrate different slang and parts of different dialects into their own to produce some sort of a new hybrid dialect of their own! And again, similar to New Zealand, some programs and initiatives worked towards ‘correcting’ such mispronounced words and diphthongs to what the majority of the community adopted and used.

Similar to how languages differ depending on the state, dialects in a language or an accent can differ based on the location. However, the Australian accent is said to differ based on class instead of geographical elements. This means that it also depends on which family/ community depended on which kind of an immigrant since the children of the immigrants were sent to the same schools as the working class and the rest knits itself appropriately.

Few Examples of Australian Pronunciations

  • Today →to-die
  • Shoot → shew-t
  • Mate → may-t
  • Kite →koi-te
  • Nice → noi-ce

Few Examples of Australian Slangs

  • Nick off→go away
  • Stubby → beer bottle
  • Servo→ gas station
  • Smoko → work break
  • Tinne→ can of beer
  • Drongo→ stupid person
  • Yobbo→ uncultured person

Main Differences Between New Zealand Accent and Australian Accents In Points

  • New Zealand accent is said to have developed by immigrants who entered New Zealand from Britain and the regions around it whereas Australian accent is said to have developed by natives who combined different dialects from immigrants who entered the country through the sea.
  • New Zealand accent is said to have developed with a foundation of the Australian accent that has been spiced with several distinct regional accents. In contrast, the Australian accent is said to have developed as a combination of American English and British accents.
  • New Zealand accent is spoken in Waiheke Island, Stweart Island, etc. On the other hand, the Australian accent is used popularly in Western Australia, Southern Australia, Victoria, etc.
  • The two dialects can also be distinctly differentiated based on their vowel pronunciation. New Zealanders tend to replace the sound of the vowel 'i' with a 'u' sort of pronunciation. On the other hand, Australians tend to emphasize the sound of 'e' by dragging the word to sound more like 'ee'.
  • While both these nations use a lot of abbreviations, Australians are popular for their use of fun abbreviations such as brekkie for breakfast, dins for dinner, etc. New Zealand uses lesser abbreviations when compared to Australia.
  • New Zealand uses slang such as jandals for flip-flops/ slippers or tramping for hiking whereas Australia uses a lot of colloquialisms too, esky for water cooler is an example, to begin with.
  • While both these dialects belong to the non-rhotic spectrum of English, the pure Australian accent is on the complete opposite end of an American accent.
  • Most popular example of explaining the New Zealand accent would be the pronunciation of 'fish' as 'fush' whereas an example to describe the Australian accent would be the unique inclusion of the shortened vowel 'æ'.


From the above discussions, we can conclude that while it might be difficult to differentiate between both these accents, there are some distinct differences in the use of their slang and vowel pronunciation. Often so, people might mistake one for the other. But we say, no matter how many barriers might pose to be a division between communities, the respect, and understanding for each other will win over any obstacle over miscommunication!



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"Difference Between New Zealand Accent and Australian Accents." Diffzy.com, 2023. Mon. 20 Mar. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-new-zealand-accent-and-australian-691>.

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