English is the de facto official and predominant language of New Zealand. Almost the entire population speak it either as native speakers or proficiently as a second language. The New Zealand English dialect is most similar to Australian English in pronunciation, with some key differences. The Māori language (te reo Māori) of the indigenous Māori people was made the first de jure official language in 1987. New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) has also been officially recognised since 2006. Many other languages are used by New Zealand's minority ethnic communities.
New Zealand English is mostly non-rhotic with an exception being the Southern Burr found principally in Southland and parts of Otago. It is similar to Australian English and many speakers from the Northern Hemisphere are unable to tell the two accents apart. In New Zealand English the short i (as in kit) has become centralised, leading to the phrase fish and chips sounding like "fush and chups" to the Australian ear. The words rarely and really, reel and real, doll and dole, pull and pool, witch and which, and full and fill can sometimes be pronounced as homophones. Some New Zealanders pronounce the past participles grown, thrown and mown using two syllables, whereas groan, throne and moan are pronounced as one syllable. New Zealanders often reply to a question or emphasise a point by adding a rising intonation at the end of the sentence. New Zealand English has also borrowed words and phrases from Māori, such as haka (war dance), kia ora (a greeting), mana (power or prestige), puku (stomach), taonga (treasure) and waka (canoe). On 2018 February, Clayton Mitchell MP from New Zealand First led a campaign for English to be recognised as an official language in New Zealand
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An Eastern Polynesian language, te reo Māori is closely related to Tahitian and Cook Islands Māori. It is only recently that te reo Maori has gathered widespread support. After the Second World War, Māori were discouraged from speaking their language in schools and workplaces and it existed as a community language only in a few remote areas. However, since the 1970s, the language has undergone a process of revitalisation and is spoken by a larger number of people. Te reo Māori now has official status, with rights and obligations to use it defined by the Maori Language Act 1987. It can, for example, be used in legal settings, such as in court. Of the 148,395 people (or 3.7 percent of the total New Zealand population) who could hold a conversation in te reo Māori in 2013, 84.5 percent identified as Māori