An epic quest for a hundred pounds


Summer reads: Pānia Papa has dedicated his life to te reo revitalization. In the quest to translate 100 popular book titles into Maori Te reo, Kotahi CEO Rau Pukapuka – and former Silver Fern – makes sure reo speakers have high caliber literature at their fingertips.

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First published on November 25, 2021

A new generation of te reo advocates is thriving, weaving new threads, thoughts and flavors into the multidimensional fabric of te reo revitalization. Earlier this month, Ngāti Rānaki me Te Ranga Tipua, a new te reo version of the classic Marvel comic book Avengers vs X-Men by teacher and translator Te Korou Whangataua, became the latest addition to a growing body of work. of literature te reo. The launch took place on Facebook live and was featured with an epic Marvel-inspired karakia by Paraone Gloyne. This is part of a larger strategy under Kotahi Rau Pukapuka which aims to translate 100 books into te reo and fill a gap in Aotearoa’s book publishing.

The Kotahi Rau Pukapuka Charitable Trust was launched in 2019, with Pānia Papa (Ngāti Korokī-Kahukura, Ngāti Mahuta) weaving together this korowai of Maori literature in his role of raupine (CEO).

“Our main goal is to increase the amount of te reo consumed by those who are passionate about reading it. Beyond that, for those who wish to let their imaginations run wild in these creative texts, in these novels and in the many forms of written language available, ”she says.

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With six publications to date, including Te Ruānuku (a te reo interpretation by author Hemi Kelly of Paulo Coelho’s classic The Alchemist), Papa is confident these books will find their way into Maori homes.

This aspiration becomes reality, the Ministry of Education having bought 26,000 copies of Hare Pota me te Whatu Manapou, Leon Blake’s translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. 13,000 additional copies of Nōu te Ao, e Hika e! – Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss – by linguist and speaker Dr Karena Kelly, were also purchased and distributed to kura kaupapa Māori, kura-ā-iwi and rūmaki reo across the country.

“My guess is that this ministry decision will elevate the status of these books to the level of those Maori language books that are already available around the world. Will the children read them? Who knows. It’s hard to research, but at least the ministry is sending this book to the schools and homes where our children are, ”says Papa.

Novels in the Maori language are scarce, and we are at a point where demand exceeds supply. There is a thriving group of Maori graduates kura kaupapa and whare wānanga, as well as second language learners, whose interest in te reo must be stimulated by a range of high quality literature.

Papa says this group can be engaged by promoting “the pools of knowledge rare in these books and the quality of te reo – the language of the distant past, of our ancestors, which is illustrated through many different subjects.”

For te reo speakers who wish to further develop their understanding and fluency in the language, Papa points out these posts, pointing out that the level of excellence demonstrated by today’s reo idols can be found between the pages of these books. .

“If they want to speak like Te Korou Whangataua, like Mataia Keepa and Leon Blake, then the direct route to the high caliber te reo they have is to read what they have written in their translations.”

She acknowledges that setting a goal of 100 pounds is ambitious, but explains that unreasonable ambition is necessary for te reo to survive.

“It’s a formidable target, perhaps a bit like most of the objectives linked to the regeneration of this language. It’s a distant goal, and it has to be for it to be successful, ”says Dad.

A panel of Te Pakanga a Ngāti Rānaki me Te Ranga-Tipua / Avengers vs X-Men (Image: Marvel / Auckland University Press)

The first publication, Mātāmua ko te Kupu! by none other than Tā Tīmoti Kāretu, is a collation of waiata and haka complemented by his invaluable interpretation and knowledge of their meanings. Patron of the Kotahi Rau Pukapuka Charitable Trust, Witi Ihimaera’s own award-winning book Bulibasha was translated by language champion Te Tairāwhiti Ruth Smith and given the name reo Puripāha – Te Pane Kaewa.

It is through this variety of books, both novel and non-fiction, that Papa says the expanse of the language is covered.

“Tīmoti’s [book] is factual, it is not an imaginary subject. It’s its own kind. Hare Pota is the epitome of the imagination, which has its own genre. This Marvel comic contains conversational and interactive dialogue, it has argumentative and combative language, as well as colloquial sayings and onomatopoeic words, ”says Papa.

She adds, “Witi’s novel has fictional narratives and contains the language used by sheep shearing gangs. So there are no limits to the styles of language that were written by the authors, which we translate.

How the books are selected depends on timing and relationships. Some are requested by the authors themselves, others are suggested by te reo enthusiasts, some by editors, while others are suggested by administrators of the Kotahi Rau Pukapuka Charitable Trust.

“In terms of titles, we don’t focus on books for young children because there are already a lot of them being written, so we are targeting 12 and over,” says Papa.

The stories will be turned into audiobooks. This is where the language renewal strategy really comes into play, says Papa.

“Ki a au nei, koirā te game-changer i roto i ēnei mahi. Koirā au e kaha akiaki nei aku hoa kia hurihia ngā pukapuka ka whakaputaina e mātau hei pukaoro, e hoki mai ai te mauri o te reo kōrero ki roto i ngā mahi pānui, kōrero pukapuuka kuō ka kapuka kōrero pukapuuka, kōrero pukapuuka kauō ka kuārero pukapuka , kaua ko te pānui nā reira ka tino hāngai tērā ki ngā pukaoro.

“For me, audiobooks are a game changer. This is why I strongly encourage my peers to turn the books we translate into audiobooks, to allow the essence of speaking to be invigorated.

Having audio to accompany written text is a useful tool for learning te reo, especially for those who are not proficient readers.

“By listening and reading congruently, those who are enthusiastic about te reo can improve these skills and become aware of its use,” says Papa.

Hare Pota has previously been voiced by Pānia Papa and actor Tiare Tāwera, and Ruānuku has been completed by Hēmi Kelly. Puripāha and Nōu te ao, e hika e! are also set to be released as audiobooks next year – although due to difficulties in obtaining publisher permissions, Ngāti Rānaki me Te Ranga Tipua will not receive the same treatment.

More than just an audio capture to accompany te reo translations, Papa says it’s about bringing the essence of the language to life with all of its subtleties and nuances.

“The feeling of reading differs considerably from the feeling of the spoken language. This is where the real work is. Therefore, if we are successful in our quest to produce a number of Maori audiobooks, there will be more verbal examples, of a high standard, that will be passed on within the communities, ”says Papa.

Next year, the goal is to publish eight more books in te reo. Dad recognizes that although it may take 20 years to reach a hundred pounds, each pound contributes to the overarching goal of restoring the mauri de te reo.


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