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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




It is a question whether regional dialects will develop in New Zealand. What has happened in the U.S. may again serve as a pointer for New Zealand. But the small size of the country and the excellent and ever-improving means of communication within it, make the comparison appear rather dubious. There are, however, certain areas of the country which are so definitely isolated by nature as to encourage regional pronunciations to develop. Such areas are the West Coast of the South Island, Northland, the King Country, and Banks Peninsula. There are indeed at present certain idioms which are peculiar to certain districts. For example, on the West Coast of the South Island people say the boy of Smith instead of “the boy Smith” or “the Smiths' boy” and this, which seems to be a purely local development, is also said to be used in Lyttelton, introduced by workers from “The Coast”. In Otago, too, people say whenever for “when” and a few other such Scotticisms are observed, but these are rather in the nature of vestigial remnants of traditional idioms of the old land than signs of any new provincial speech. Some slang terms seem to be peculiar to certain districts. An example is the Auckland term up the Puhoi or Boohoy (its form varies a good deal) meaning “gone somewhere or other” and this is a genuine local product referring to an old German settlement on the coast north of Auckland and little, if at all, in use elsewhere in New Zealand. These are but trifling variants from standard speech and anything like the dialects of mediaeval England is out of the question.