Skip to content

Common terms

There are many terms used on that could be spelt, capitalised, or swapped with other terms. We use the following list to keep our language consistent. 

Spelling, capitalisation, and preferred terms

We use:

  • 2 weeks or every 2 weeks – rather than fortnight or fortnightly
  • advisor, except when referring to financial adviser
  • artificial intelligence - rather than Artificial Intelligence
  • cellphone or mobile phone
  • child support
  • co-operation not cooperation
  • de facto (without italics)
  • dependant (n), when a child is a dependant of its parents
  • disability (not disabled)
  • driver licence, not driver's licence
  • Family Court
  • financial adviser (not advisor)
  • focusing
  • full-time
  • healthcare
  • ID, for example photo ID not photo identification
  • IDI
  • illness, rather than medical condition
  • infographic
  • IRD, not Inland Revenue or IR
  • licence (noun) and licensing (verb)
  • log in (verb) to a system, or create a logon (noun)
  • outside New Zealand, rather than overseas or abroad
  • partner, rather than spouse
  • part-time
  • prepaid
  • printout (when referring to a form that can be printed out)
  • second-hand
  • self-employed
  • single, living alone rate (with a comma) for NZ Super
  • travelling
  • usable - rather than useable
  • wellbeing
  • widespread
  • compared with, not compared to.

Māori words considered to be part of NZ English

Words considered to be part of NZ English do not need to be marked up in as the Māori language.

The New Zealand Oxford Dictionary tells us which Māori words are considered to be part of NZ English.

These include:

  • Aotearoa
  • aroha
  • haka
  • hāngī
  • hīkoi
  • hongi
  • hui
  • iwi
  • kai
  • karakia
  • kaumātua
  • Kia ora
  • Kōhanga Reo
  • mahi
  • mana
  • Māori
  • marae
  • Pākehā
  • pounamu
  • puku
  • tāngata whenua
  • taonga
  • te Reo Māori (lower case t, upper case R)
  • waka
  • whānau
  • native animals like kiwi, tuatara, kea and moa, and flora like kauri and kowhai.

Terms we don't use

We don't say:

  • in order to – it’s unnecessary, so we leave it out
  • it’s important to or it’s vital to – it’s not our job to tell you what’s important to you, either you have to do something or you don’t
  • lets you do or allows you to – it sounds like people serve the service, not the other way around
  • please – 'please call', 'please email' should be 'call' or 'email'
  • set out – we use 'shows'
  • simply – we’ll explain a simple process simply, rather than saying it’s simple
  • will – often unnecessary, for example: 'you need a copy of your birth certificate' - not 'you'll need a copy of your birth certificate'
  • your needs – state the actual needs instead.

We also avoid using jargon such as:

  • advancing
  • agenda – unless it's for a meeting
  • collaborate – we use 'working with'
  • combating
  • commit/pledge – we need to be more specific – we’re either doing something or we’re not
  • countering
  • deliver – pizzas, post and services are delivered, not abstract concepts like 'improvements' or 'priorities'
  • deploy – unless it's military or software
  • dialogue – we speak to people
  • disincentivise and incentivise
  • drive – we can only drive vehicles, not schemes or people
  • ecosystem – unless it’s about the natural environment
  • empower
  • entity
  • facilitate – instead, we say something specific about how we're helping
  • focusing
  • foster – unless one is fostering children
  • going forward – it’s unlikely we're giving travel directions
  • impact (as a verb)
  • initiate
  • key – unless it unlocks something, it's probably just 'important'
  • land – as a verb, unless you're talking about an aircraft
  • leverage – unless in the financial sense
  • liaise
  • one-stop shop – we're government, not a retail outlet
  • overarching
  • progress – as a verb – say what you're actually doing
  • ring fencing
  • robust
  • stakeholder – this means nothing or everything, and everyone has a different definition for it
  • streamline
  • strengthening – unless it’s strengthening bridges or other structures
  • tackling – unless we're talking about contact sports
  • transforming – we state what people are actually doing to change a thing
  • utilise – we say 'use' instead.

Contact us

If you’d like more information, have a question, or want to provide feedback, email

Content last reviewed 21 October 2020.