Monday, 24 September 2018

Tie ho? No, tai hoa

If you are a Kiwi, you have probably heard the term "tie-ho". What may surprise you is that this is not - as I assumed it to be - an English phrase.

I went to keyboard it recently for something I was writing, and suddenly realised that I'd only ever said it, so didn't know how to spell it. naturally, I headed to Google, and did a search… only to receive hardly any relevant hits. This was one of the most surprising Google searches I had ever run.

Eventually I found, to my great interest, that tie-ho is actually "tia hoa". It is Maori, and means - as we Kiwis know - wait, hold your horses, don't do it yet, slow down. Just tai hoa. But we appear to have lost the 'a' on the end. I am planning on resurrecting it. 

It can be two words (tai hoa) or one, (taihoa). An example of use in Maori was: "Taihoa e kai kia karakiatia te hākari e te minita" (trans: don’t eat until the minister has blessed the banquet, Maori Dictionary, n.d., citing Moorfield, 2002).

We learn something new every day.



  • Maori Dictionary (n.d.). Tai hoa. Retrieved from
  • Moorfield, J. C. (2002). Te Whanake 1: Te Kakano (2nd ed.). New Zealand: Pearson Education, New Zealand


  1. Still under review as 'Tie Ho' in Colins:

    You should advise them that 'Tai Ho' would be a better spelling choice. BTW usage has gone out of vogue and I have not used it for ~40 years myself. For some reason it popped into my head so I Googled it :). Appreciate your insight into it's origin.


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