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Guide to Kiwi Etiquette for International Students

Guide to Kiwi Etiquette for International Students

Guide to Kiwi Etiquette for International Students
New Zealanders, also called Kiwis, have an informal culture. Kiwis are known to be very friendly and outgoing. You just have to relax, go with the flow, and they will invite you to have some fun. Politeness may seem like an attitude of superiority, but you can never go wrong if you are professional and well-behaved. Also, always wear your best smile.

If you plan to study and live in New Zealand as an international student, make sure to take note of these etiquette tips to help you be at your most behaved self:


In New Zealand, although a proper “good morning” or “good evening” is always acceptable, the locals will likely greet you with various informal versions of hello, such as “gidday!” and “Kia ora! (Hi). They like it this way better. Meanwhile, ‘Ka kite’ or ‘Ka kite anō’ is said to bid goodbye.

When meeting in a formal setup, it is normal to shake hands with both men and women; this is not required for casual gatherings. You can also shake hands then hongi (press noses briefly) during formal Māori events. Kiwi women usually kiss on the cheek when greeting.

Dress code

For dress codes, informal is appropriate for Kiwis. But if you’re attending a business meeting, you can go for a more formal getup. However, you can leave your suit and tie. A smart casual attire is enough, even for the finest restaurants in the country.


If you are invited to a social function and asked to RSVP, make sure to respond if you will attend and be punctual at the event. When someone asks you to “bring a plate,” you should take a plate of treats such as savories or cakes, something that can be easily shared.

Also, you can bring some gifts when invited to dinner, it could be chocolates, wine, or flowers.


In New Zealand, it is not customary to leave a tip. And this is something that you shouldn’t worry about. However, if you feel like tipping for excellent service, it is always appreciated.

In public

Queueing is a practice that every Kiwis follow. If you see a queue, whatever that may be, go to the end, fall in line, and wait for your turn. If you will be entering public transport, you must wait for the others to exit the train or bus first before you get in. Also, try to offer your seat to anyone elderly, disabled, or pregnant.

If you enter a door, make sure to hold it open for the others entering after you. On sidewalks, stay on the left side and walk just like the others. 

At the table

Before diving into your food, you should wait for the other people’s plates to be served and any preliminaries like prayer. Talking with a full mouth and making noises can make some locals stare at you. Also, criticizing the food is considered rude. You should try to eat at least some of it as a sign of respect to the host. But if you really don’t want to, just leave it on your plate’s side.

Learn more about New Zealand’s attractions, foods, culture, and education. Check out our other articles here at MSM Unify to learn more.


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