Helen OakesnbspPhotographerKiwi slang, it’s in our DNA. New Zealander’s have long been obsessed with the nuances of kiwi slang. We use it everywhere and to the uninitiated it can be quite confusing. The terms can change depending on where in the country you live.

Most kiwis have fond memories of having the quintisential New Zealand holiday in a bach. I say bach, however it is North Islanders mainly that use this term. We have different names for our holiday homes depending on where you were brought up. Bach is what I always called a holiday home when I lived in the North Island, however speak to someone down south and they use the term Crib.

A bach (pronounced ‘batch’) is a holiday home or beach house and they are an iconic part of our culture and history. Baches became popular with the increase of cars on our roads in the 1950’s. Beach spots and holiday areas were more accessible and therefore more baches sprang up in this era.

The term bach was thought to have originated from bachelor pad, however it has also been noted that bach may have come from the Welsh word, meaning small and little. Welsh miners settled early on in New Zealand and used the term ‘Ty Bach’ which means small house or outbuildings.

Baches post WWII were made out of cheap building materials, like corrugated iron, fibrolite and pre-loved timber. Some bach owners were lucky enough to get an old tram and convert it into a bach. This happened post 1950’s when trams were being decommissioned. The Coromandel Peninsula has around 100 relocated trams. Older baches were generally furnished with second-hand furniture and only had the bare essentials, no running water or electricity.

Modern baches are now bigger and more expensive than ever and tend to be made out of a kit-set. It has been estimated there could be around 50,000 baches in New Zealand of varying sizes. Baches are now ‘holiday homes’ with anything you could imagine in them. They are most often professionaly built to keep with the building code. Some baches are bigger than the average persons house so I guess the term bach, meaning ‘small’ and ‘little’ (in Welsh) is almost redundant in some cases.

New Zealanders still flock to baches with the inception of websites BookABach and AirBnB. Even if you don’t own your own New Zealand bach you can still find a great one to stay in. These websites have made it accessible for all New Zealanders to be a part of kiwi history.

As a photographer I’ve always had a passion for creative art and recently I have started to feature some Kiwiana digital prints with sayings, words, phrases and colloquialisms in my Etsy store.

If you’re a home sick Kiwi living abroad, my artwork may just be an ideal solution for a dose of New Zealand artwork to decorate your home or office.