New translation of Te Paipera Tapu more accessible


Two years ago the Bible Society began a new translation of the Te Paipera Tapu

It is hoped the new translation will serve the next generation and be more accessible to young Māori second language speakers.

To date, the Gospel of Luke, two Epistles, Jonah, Genesis and Ruth have been completed in modern Te Reo Māori. It could take up to 12 years to complete the task.

Te Paipera Tapu was first published in 1868 with three further versions in 1889, 1925 and 1952.

The 1952 edition is the version most Māori communities and speakers have used for more than half a century.

In 2012 Bible Society published a reformatted edition of the 1952 text featuring paragraphs, macrons and punctuation to help readers understand the text.

However the current translation is very close to the King James Version,” which in Bible-speak means it’s quite formal language,” said  Brenda Crooks the Māori Bible Kaituitui Co-ordinator (Kaituitui means ‘stitch together’).

“The purpose of translating Scripture in the first place into mother tongues is to make it more accessible and to open up the treasure of scripture to all who want to seek it,” she said.

“For Māori readers, we want to give them an informal translation that speaks to them in their own natural heart language,”

The project allows Crooks to combine the two passions of her life, Te Reo and the Bible.

She is one of only 5,000 people in New Zealand able to speak in the three official languages of New Zealand; Māori, English and Sign Language.

Maori is “the language of our country, it’s beautiful, it’s poetic and it’s a window into this culture,” said Crooks.

“There are things that can be expressed in Māori that can’t be expressed in any other language.”

Crooks said that even as a child she a desire to learn about Māori culture.

“I grew up on the West Coast of the South Island which is very European, so I believe my longing to learn about Māori culture was a God-given desire.”

After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Māori Studies, Crooks joined Bible Society almost directly. She has been working on the Māori Bible ever since.

She spent 11 years modernising Te Paipera Tapu text with the addition of macrons, paragraphs and punctuation.

“When the current Māori translation was first printed in 1952, it didn’t need macrons because there were native speakers. So marking the vowel length for today’s readers is very helpful,” she said.

More recently Crooks has worked on Tāku Paipera, the first Māori Bible story book for children and Bible Society’s first dedicated Māori Bible app.

The new translation of Te Paipera Tapu is now her main work.


Supplied: New Zealand Bible Society

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