Accent jokes, jandals and 'fush': 11 things all Kiwis in Australia know to be true.


New Zealand and Australia are similar in a lot of ways.

But then… they’re also very different.

For starters, everything in Australia wants to kill you. Even the ants. And the climate.

New Zealand keeps its prime ministers for a full term, and Australia likes a plebiscite more than its neighbour.

It isn’t all (scorching hot) sunshine and (post-wild thunderstorm) rainbows over here: Many of us are perpetually considered temporary residents and unlike other migrants, have limited pathways to permanent residency or citizenship, plus there’s that whole ‘excluded from any form of welfare if everything falls apart, even if we’ve contributed taxes for a decade’ thing… but hey, this isn’t what I’m here to discuss. It’s summer, it’s the festive season, and I’m here for the lols.

Because being a Kiwi in Aussie is a pretty interesting experience. There’s also a lot of us, meaning there’s a damn good community and feeling of solidarity out there. When coming up with ideas for this story, I used not only my brain but the brains of my people and it only cemented what I thought: We all face the same problems, and most of them have to do with words.

Here’s a selection of things all Kiwis in Australia know to be true:

1. We can’t say the word ‘deck’.

We’re all used to the jokes about our accent, especially for words containing Is and Es.

But is there any word that elicits more mocking and laughs than ‘deck’? Nevermind the fact that to our ears, it’s the Aussies that sound like they’ve got this one confused with something… else. We’re outnumbered and fighting it only increases their lols.

kiwis in australia
If you know, you know.

I've now banished the word from my vocabulary entirely, sticking to words that don't get me ridiculed, like 'balcony', 'veranda' or just... 'outside'.

A few other absolute accent woopsies fellow Kiwis have told me:

  • "Asking a workmate for a tiny teddy cookie and she reckons we say tiny titties."
  • "One time I went to Bunnings to buy deck lights. The old guy serving me looked confused until I described what I needed them for, then after that he said 'You bloody Kiwis with how you pronounce things'."
  • "Don't say netball too fast... Aussies hear nipples."
  • "My female colleagues get confused when I say 'Come on bro, let's go', all of them cross their legs and I'm like WTF. They ask what? So I have to slow it down, then they all piss themselves laughing... 'We thought you said: Camel toe, let's go'."
  • "Repeating myself over and over at Maccas: 'Can I have six nuggets please?' three times, then 'Can I have sex nuggets please?' while laughing my ass off."
kiwis in australia

And to any Kiwis living in Australia named 'Ben'... I'm so sorry.

2. Ordering 'sweet potato fries' pains us.

I know it's kumara, you know it's kumara, but the guy taking your order has no bloody idea it's kumara.


  • Chilly bin = esky
  • Duvet = doona ("One of my Aussie friends asked if I was cold and did I want a doona? I told her I don't like donuts, but thanks anyway.")
  • Plasters = band-aids
  • Vivid = permanent marker
  • Togs = bathers/swimmers/cossie/12,000 other terms
  • Dairy = milk bar
  • Weedeater = whipper snipper (I can't stop laughing)
  • Jersey = jumper
  • Trim = skim
  • Luncheon = devon (My favourite story about this is: "My cousin asked for $2 of devon at the deli. I said to him, 'Who's that?' He said 'It's luncheon, cuz' and I said 'No it ain't! That's a dude's name!'" because... true)
  • Speedos = budgie smugglers

Also, requesting innocent stationery items can be a bit dangerous: If we ask for twink (white out) or a rubber (eraser), we get some interesting looks.

But the most horrific, dangerous word difference of them all?

I have been told many stories of Kiwis going to a fish and chip shop (yeah, yeah, fush and chups or... feesh and cheps in Straya) and thinking they'd found an absolute bargain with some very cheap scallops. You know, the seafood. But then when the order came out... It turned out they'd ordered two dozen potato fritters.


4. Every week, you'll realise something you say... does not translate.

Similar to above, but a little different.

Last week I said 'pack a sad' and my Australian colleagues looked at me like I had three eyes. Who knew that was a saying that never made it beyond our lovely little islands?

Plus, it's almost daily that I forgot no one knows what I mean when I greet them with Kia Ora, talk about what kai I have for lunch or use 'chur'. And I remember the one time I said tu meke...

One thing I love the most about New Zealand is how the nation embraces our indigenous language, te reo Māori. It's unique and special to our little corner of the world, and even if you just spend a short time in NZ, you'll be exposed to it in some capacity. Ka pai.

5. How Australians think we talk is different to how we actually talk.

Well, sort of. Every Australian impersonating a Kiwi opts for one of two sentences: "Sweet as, bro" or "Sweet as, cuz".

I mean, yeah sure, I call everyone in my life 'bro', including my actual sister, but that's beside the point.

6. "Do you know ...?"

This one is annoying because New Zealand is a country of nearly five million people spread across a few different islands. It's not that small.

It's weird that someone expects you to know that dude John they once met in Europe.


But DAMN IT, yes, I do know him - in fact, we went to school together and actually, I think he's my cousin.

7. The weekly debates about what is ours and what Aussies have stolen.

Pavlova? Kiwi.

Tips to avoid Christmas bloat
As Kiwi as it gets.

Pharlap? Kiwi.

Russell Crowe? They can have him.

Barnaby Joyce? ...*closes borders*

8. You think that's cold? Pffft.

It was 21 degrees when I grabbed a coffee with a colleague the other day, and she thought that was cold. If it was 21 degrees where I'm from in Wellington we'd be dragging the barbeque to the beach and honestly, complaining about the heat after 20 minutes.


9. The joy of that first bite of a pie when you're back home.

NZ mince and cheese is superior to the rest of the world's mince and cheese, there ain't no doubt about it.

It's funny, you don't realise how much you'll miss Kiwi food until you leave. Toffee pops are the greatest biscuits on the planet, I reckon, and there's nothing better than a chocolate fish alongside your coffee or hot chocolate.

Thankfully, Kiwi delicacies are becoming much easier to find across the ditch. Almost the full Whittaker's range is available at IGA and Big W, I've seen Pineapple Lumps at basically every supermarket I've visited and Coles has Wattie's tomato sauce AND Raro sachets in the international aisle. Win.

Now if someone could ship me these beautiful, delicious things on the reg, that'd be much appreciated:

kiwis in australia

10. "Do you know how to do the haka?"

face palm

11. Going to an event where you know you'll be surrounded by your people.

All Blacks test? I'm there, black jersey on and ready to high five all new pals when we win.


Warriors match? A little... riskier, considering the usual result but also a damn good way to feel like you're home.

Six60 concert? Chooohoooo.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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