New Zealand has three official languages: New Zealand English, Te Reo Maori (the Maori language), and New Zealand Sign Language. In practice only English is widely used although major efforts have been made in recent years to nurture Te Reo. Numerous other languages are spoken in New Zealand.
New Zealand English
New Zealand English is close to Australian English in pronunciation, but has several subtle differences often overlooked by people from outside these countries. Some of these differences show New Zealand English to have more affinity with the English of southern England than Australian English does. Several of the differences also show the influence of Maori speech. The most striking difference from Australian and other forms of English (although shared partly with South African English) is the flattened i of New Zealand English. The New Zealand accent also has some Scottish and Irish influences from the large number of settlers from those places during the 19th century.
Te Reo Maori
New Zealand Sign Language
New Zealand Sign Language has its roots in British Sign Language (BSL), and may be technically considered a dialect of British, Australian and New Zealand Sign Language (BANZSL). There are 62.5% similarities found in British Sign Language and NZSL, compared with 33% of NZSL signs found in American Sign Language. Like other natural sign languages, it was devised by and for Deaf people, with no linguistic connection to a spoken or written language, and it is fully capable of expressing anything a fluent signer wants to say. It uses more lip-patterns in conjunction with hand and facial movement to cue signs than BSL, reflecting New Zealand’s history of oralist education of Deaf people. Its vocabulary includes Maori concepts such as marae and tangi, and signs for New Zealand placenames. New Zealand Sign Language became an official language of New Zealand in April 2006. A total of 24,090 people in New Zealand use New Zealand sign language.