25 July 2012

Early Printing for Te Wiki o te Reo Maori

Today (Wednesday) marks the mid point of Maori Language Week (Te Wiki o te Reo Maori). The theme this year is arohatia te reo (to cherish the language). As such, this week's post highlights six of the taonga (treasure, anything prized) among the early books printed partly or fully in the Maori language found in the Heritage Collections, Dunedin City Library.

Besides offical government publications, the majority of early printed material in New Zealand was produced by missionary societies, and therefore consisted of language aids and religious texts. I have selected three of each, which are described below. But first, typophiles (and bibliophiles generally) might be interested in the unique way that William Colenso (1811–1899), the missionary printer who printed the first substantial book in New Zealand, arranged his type cases:*

Reproduced from D. F. McKenzie's Oral Culture, Literacy & Print
in Early New Zealand
(Wellington, 1985)

'For as the Maori language', wrote Colenso, 'contained only 13 letters (half the number in the English alphabet), I contrived my cases so, as to have both Roman and Italic characters in the one pair of cases.... Such an arrangement proved to be a very good one while my compositing was confined to the Maori language only; but when I had any English copy to compose it was altogether the reverse!... Fortunately, this occurred but rarely' (quoted in McKenzie, p. 25).

Grammars & Dictionary

Samuel Lee and Thomas Kendall. A Grammar and Vocabulary of the Language of New Zealand. London: Church Missionary Society, 1820.

As a missionary to New Zealand, Thomas Kendall (1778–1832) was in an ideal position to gather information on the Maori language. With the Rev. Samuel Lee (1783–1852), professor of Arabic and later of Hebrew at Cambridge, he compiled the first book that attempted to lay down the fixed principles of the language in 1815. Five years later this was expanded to include a 100-page vocabulary.

The 1820 edition of the grammar was issued in two versions, one printed on fine paper and the other on coarse paper. The fine paper version was mainly for circulation in England to spark interest in the work of the Church Missionary Society. The coarse paper version was printed for the Society’s schools in New Zealand and 500 copies were published.

Robert Maunsell. Grammar of the New Zealand Language. Auckland: Printed and Published by J. Moore, 1842.

This grammar was written by Robert Maunsell (1810–1894) in 1841–1842, encouraged by the support of prominent figures including the Governor’s private secretary (James Coates), Sir William Martin (ca. 1807–1880), the first Chief Justice of New Zealand, and George Augustus Selwyn (1809–1878), first Anglican Bishop of New Zealand. This support resulted in the work being printed in Auckland by the printer contracted to the government, rather than by the Church Mission Press at Paihia. Freed from the influence of the Northern District, which controlled mission printing and translating, Maunsell took tentative steps at reforming Maori orthography and adopting (in preference to the northern Ngapuhi dialect) the conventions of the Waikato dialect, which was widely understood and had retained its purity. 

3,000 copies were printed at Maunsell’s expense and issued in four parts.

William Williams. A Dictionary of the New Zealand Language and a Concise Grammar. Paihia: Church Missionary Society, 1844.

Although some early dictionaries were just simple word lists, Colenso and the missionary-linguist William Williams (1800–1878) wrote full definitions in English for head words, provided clear indications of noun and verbal usages and gave sample sentences for most.

In his Books in Maori, Phil Parkinson notes that work began on the first Maori dictionary in 1837, when Colenso printed a 12-page section that was never published (Parkinson 217). 'When the Committee of Missionaries renewed its decision to print the grammar', Parkinson continues, 'Colenso wrote to the CMS on 26 July 1842 of his concerns about its lack of usefulness to Maori and the "hindrance" of having to do such "un-missionary work"'. Colenso suggested it would be better printed in England, but his fellow missionary printer (and successor), John Telford, disagreed, and was set the task of printing the dictionary.

The dictionary was compiled by William Williams and printed in an edition quantity of 550 copies. Williams's dictionary proved so popular that subsequent editions appeared in 1852, 1871, 1892, and several in the twentieth century (Parkinson 217).

The copy in the Dunedin City Library is inscribed by Bishop Selwyn.

The Bible in Maori

Ko te tahi wahi o Te Kawenata Hou o Ihu Karaiti te Ariki, to tatou Kai wakaora: me nga upoko e waru o te pukapuka o Kenehi: ka oti nei te wakamaori ki te reo o Nu Tirani. Hirini [Sydney]: Kua oti te ta e Te Tipene raua ko Te Toki, 1833.

The third published translation of any biblical scripture into Maori and among the ten earliest printed works in the Maori language. In 1814 the Church Missionary Society founded its New Zealand Mission. James Shepherd, one of its missionaries, began to translate portions of the Bible into Maori, approximately ten years later. While visiting Sydney in 1827, another missionary, Richard Davis, arranged for the New South Wales Auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society to print 400 copies of a thirty-one-page volume of extracts. A second volume appeared in 1830, and expanded to 170 pages in 1833. The second and third volumes were also printed in Sydney, under the direction of the missionary William Yate (1802–1877) who, in 1830, produced Ke te katekihama III, a six-page edition of the third catechism in Maori and the first work printed on New Zealand soil.

Beginning of the Gospel of John
Ko te Kawenata Hou o to tatou Ariki te Kai Wakaroa a Ihu Karaiti. Paihia: He mea ta i Perehi o nga Mihanere o te Hahi o Ingarani, 1837.

On 17 February 1835, William Colenso produced his first piece of printing in New Zealand: a 16-page translation of the Epistles of Paul to the Philippians and to the Ephesians. Two years later, he finished the much more ambitious project of printing the first complete New Testament in Maori, which was translated primarily by William Williams.

The first copies of an edition of 5,000 were issued after binding the following year (Parkinson 44). According to the New Zealand Dictionary of Biography, 'Maori demand was high: a Maori leader in Kaitaia sent a messenger for a copy, bearing the only gold sovereign Colenso had seen in the country'.

Beginning of the Book of Genesis
Ko te Paipera Tapu, ara, Ko te Kawenata Tawhito me te Kawenata Hou: He mea whakamaori mai no nga reo i oroko-tuhituhia ai. Ranana [London]: He mea ta ki te Perehi a W. M. Watts, ma te Komiti ta Paipera mo Ingarangi mo te Ao Katoa, 1868.

Ko te Paipera Tapu is the first complete Maori Bible. The initial request for a complete Bible in the Maori language was made by the Church Missionary Society in 1862. The work is based on Maunsell’s translation of the Old Testament and William Williams’s version of the New Testament. It was revised by George Maunsell, Elizabeth Colenso (1821–1904), and Bishop Selwyn, who saw the Bible through the press for the British and Foreign Bible Society (Parkinson 716).

Copies arrived in New Zealand from England in 1869. The Bible was made available in three different bindings: red sheep, speckled calf, and red morocco.

For further reading:

P. G. Parkinson. Books in Maori, 1815-1900: An Annotated Bibliography = Nga Pukapuka Reo Maori, 1815-1900. Auckland: Reed Publishing, 2004.

H. W. Williams. A Bibliography of Printed Maori. Wellington: A. R. Shearer, Government Printer, 1975; first published in 1924 and supplemented in 1928.

D. F. McKenzie. Oral Culture, Literacy & Print in Early New Zealand: The Treaty of Waitangi. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1985.

J. McRae. 'From Maori Oral Traditions to Print' in Book & Print in New Zealand: A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa edited by Penny Griffith, Ross Harvey and Keith Maslen. Wellington: Victoria University Press, 1997.

J. McRae, 'Maori Oral Tradition Meets the Book'; D. Keenan, 'Aversion to Print? Maori Resistance to the Written Word'; and P. Lineham, 'Tampering with the Sacred Text: The Second Edition of the Maori Bible' in A Book in the Hand: Essays on the History of the Book in New Zealand edited by Penny Griffith, Peter Hughes and Alan Loney. Wellington: Auckland University Press, 2000.

Peter Wells. The Hungry Heart: Journeys with William Colenso. Auckland: Vintage, 2011.

* Colenso's cases are also reproduced on the Alembic Press website, which includes case layouts for Scottish, Vietnamese, Irish, and a host of other languages.

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