New Zealanders are free to speak in any of the three official languages in New Zealand for legal proceedings, be it English or Maori or NZSL. More than ninety-five percent of New Zealand’s population is estimated to predominantly speak in English, while a little above four percent of the remaining speaks in Maori. The remaining comes close to one percent and they speak in either NZSL or in any of the other languages in New Zealand used by the minority ethnic communities.
Amid the large variety of immigrant languages in New Zealand which includes, Samoan, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, French and Yui Chinese are considered to be the most popular. Now, let’s have a deeper look into the languages that prevail in New Zealand:
New Zealand EnglishThe first language of the largest share of the population, New Zealand English (NZE) is the term for the variant of English language in New Zealand. In 1841, the Maori people signed the ‘Treaty of Waitangi’ to establish British governorship in New Zealand which led to British Isles beginning to arrive in large numbers. The variant was recognized by at least 1912, soon after the number of settlers in New Zealand from Europe reached a million in 1911.
MaoriThe Maori language is referred to as ‘te reo’ in New Zealand often. It is the language of the Maori people, the earliest inhabitants of the country. Though settlers of Eastern Polynesian descent, they cultivated their own unique culture and hence their language also evolved into becoming completely independent of any other Eastern Polynesian cultures. Declared as the de jure (legally recognized) official language in 1987, Maori is used nowhere else except in New Zealand.
New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL)The main language of New Zealand’s deaf community, New Zealand Sign Language is capable enough to convey ideas from both English and Maori. The origins and influence of the language is credited to British Sign Language (BSL) and Australian Sign Language(Auslan). Crafted by and for deaf people, it’s been over a hundred years since New Zealand Sign Language has come into use.
Other Languages in New ZealandSamoan, Northern Chinese and Hindi are among the most common languages in New Zealand according to the 2018 census. French is also hugely popular. Korean, German, Spanish, Dutch, etc. are also spoken by or known to a moderate amount of people. In the 2013 census, the multilingual population of New Zealand was close to nineteen percent.
Share your thoughts about the extensive range of languages in New Zealand below in the comments.