Jacinda Ardern officially launched the Kotahi Rau Pukapuka Trust, an organisation aiming to translate and publish 100 books in te reo Maori.
The trust’s Patron, another local, Witi Ihimaera believes such an endeavour is well overdue. “In the second decade of the millennium, New Zealanders both Maori and Pakeha have acknowledged the role of te reo in our daily lives. Maori words and greetings are heard in all our media and New Zealanders are learning the language in record numbers. But for those language learners coming out of kura kaupapa schools or w-ananga night classes, there is currently almost nothing to read,” explained the award-winning author.
The number of books published for adults in te reo over the last decade can be counted on one hand. The mission of this trust is to fill that void with an array of literature from different genres. Prime Minister Adern reiterated the importance of this project, saying that it not only encourages people to experience the joy of reading, but also brings te reo to the world.
Titles will cater to the tastes of readers both young and old with books from all genres both local and international. Books range from Poia Rewi’s Whaikorero to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and from Paula Morris’ Rangatira, to Avengers vs X-Men from Marvel Comics.
The first books will be available in 2020 with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to be the first translated. “The quality and range of the books will excite every reader of te reo Maori, and hopefully encourage many more to learn. Thanks to some of our initial supporters and Jason Witehira, the owner-operator of Victoria Park New World, we have been able to secure the rights to some amazing titles by noted authors, both New Zealand and international, fiction and non-fiction, high-brow and popular,” says Pania Papa one of the trustees.
The trust hopes to find sponsors to translate a range of titles to reach its target of 100, aiming at five new titles each year. So far, the trust has received support from the ANZ Bank, Bayleys Real Estate, Creative New Zealand, Deloitte, Te Matawai, Thompson Lewis, Waikato-Tainui and, of course, Jason Witehira. The first books to make this list are: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, Avengers versus X Men by Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and Brian Bendisl, Te Puea by Michael King, Whaik-orero by Poia Rewi and Rangatira by Paula Morris.
With hopes to complement the published print books with audio books, the Kotahi Rau Pukapuka Trust is keen to hear from private and corporate sponsors who might like to support the translation and publication of one of the titles on the 100 list. “We have a great pool of translators as well as some who are able to translate from the original source languages,” says Pania. As Witi Ihimaera pointed out, “This is a project whose time has come.”