Kia ora can be used to say hello, express gratitude, send love and make a connection.

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

What does kia ora mean?

In its simplest form, kia ora means hello. However, 'kia ora’ means more than just hello because it references life and health.

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.

When should you say kia ora?

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.

Use kia ora to wish someone well as a greeting or farewell, to say thank you, to affirm support, or to say a friendly ‘cheers’.  You can also use kia ora to answer the phone or start an email.

New Zealanders appreciate visitors using it, as a connection to their culture.

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

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.

Learn more about Māori culture