The meaning of kia ora

With this simple, everyday phrase, you can say hello, express gratitude, send love and make a connection.

It's really important to acknowledge a person. By using the words 'Kia Ora' we acknowledge not just them, but everything about them including where they come from and who they come from.

Arekatera Maihi Ngati Whatua ki Orakei

Kia ora is a warm and welcoming greeting you'll hear throughout New Zealand and comes from the indigenous Māori language, te reo.

In its simplest form, kia ora means hello. But these two little words signify more than just a passing greeting. In its literal sense, ''ora" refers to a state of living, or being alive.  By using using ‘kia’ , it changes it from a noun to a verb, so rather than 'alive' it is 'living'.  So when you say kia ora to someone, you are wishing the essence of life upon them.

Although the words' origins are steeped in history, kia ora is used as an informal greeting throughout New Zealand. You will hear everyone from the Prime Minister to the local shopkeeper using it in day-to-day conversation.

So the next time you're in New Zealand, embrace our culture and say kia ora to the locals!

Visit a Māori culture attraction

Where to next?

Māori culture →

Te Reo Māori - The Māori language →

Stories of Aotearoa →

The Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings →