Key to pronunciation: New Zealand English

View the pronunciation model for New Zealand English here.

The pronunciations given are those in use among educated urban speakers of standard English in New Zealand. While avoiding strongly regionally or socially marked forms, they are intended to include the most common variants for each word. The keywords given in this key are to be understood as pronounced in such speech.

All words indicated as being associated with New Zealand are also given British and American pronunciations alongside the New Zealand pronunciation(s). Where a word is associated with an additional part of the English-speaking world, further pronunciations in the appropriate global variety of English are also given.

To hear the pronunciation spoken aloud, click the blue play icon to the left of each transcription.


New Zealand English As in…
i happy
ɪ kit
e dress
ɛ trap
ʌː father, start
ɒ lot, cloth
hawk, force
ʌ cup
ʊ foot
ə alpha
ɜː nurse
æe face
ɑe price
æu mouth
ʌu goat
oe choice

In New Zealand English, words of Māori origin are treated slightly differently from the rest. Multiple pronunciations are given, the first of which is a close representation of the Māori pronunciation. Depending on the word, varying degrees of anglicization are reflected in subsequent pronunciations. The Māori pronunciations use ten vowel symbols, five short and long pairs: /ʌ/ and /ʌː/ (as in New Zealand cup and father respectively), /e/ and /eː/ (N.Z. dress, plus a longer version), /i/ and /iː/ (N.Z. happy and fleece respectively), /o/ and /oː/ (N.Z. hawk, plus a shorter version), /u/ and /uː/ (N.Z. goose, plus a shorter version).


New Zealand English As in…
b big /bɪɡ/
d dig /dɪɡ/
jet /dʒet/
ð then /ðen/
f fig /fɪɡ/
ɡ get /ɡet/
h head /hed/
j yes /jes/
k kit /kɪt/
l leg /leɡ/
m mud /mʌd/
n net /net/
ŋ thing /θɪŋ/
p pit /pɪt/
r red /red/
s sit /sɪt/
ʃ ship /ʃɪp/
t tip /tɪp/
chip /tʃɪp/
θ thin /θɪn/
v vet /vet/
w win /wɪn/
z zip /zɪp/
ʒ vision /ˈvɪʒ(ə)n/

The consonants l, m, and n can take on the function of a vowel in some unstressed syllables. It should generally be clear when this interpretation is intended, but in cases of potential ambiguity, the consonant symbol may appear with a diacritic, as in the British and U.S. pronunciations. A bracketed /(ə)/ indicates that some speakers may not pronounce the /ə/; in some cases this means the following consonant would take on the function of the vowel (e.g. U.S. saddle /ˈsæd(ə)l/).

After a vowel, New Zealand English only has /r/ when it is also followed by a vowel, e.g. mar /mʌː/ but marring /ˈmʌːrɪŋ/.

Between vowels, except at the start of a stressed syllable, New Zealand English has /d/ where British English has /t/, similar to U.S. in words such as pitting /ˈpɪdɪŋ/ (rather than British /ˈpɪtɪŋ/).


The symbol ˈ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with primary stress. The symbol ˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable is pronounced with secondary stress. The symbol ˈˌ at the beginning of a syllable indicates that that syllable may be pronounced with either primary or secondary stress.