Te Paipera Tapu ara, The Holy Bible in Maori


A translation of the Bible into Māori.

When was the Bible translated?

Christian missionaries first began publishing excerpts of the Bible in te reo Māori (the Māori language) in Sydney in 1827 with the aim of spreading the Christian faith amongst the Māori in Aotearoa (New Zealand). A translation of the complete Bible was published in London in 1868, based on Robert Maunsell’s translations of the Old Testament and William Williams’s version of the New Testament. Subsequent revisions were published in 1887 and 1925.

The book

The 1952 translation of the Holy Bible into te reo Māori features a verse style format rather than traditional paragraphs of text. This aimed to reflect the rhythm and cadence of the Māori spoken language and encourage memorisation.

Why is it important?

This edition marks a significant turning point in the history of Christianity in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Following three editions where the task of translating the text of the complete Bible into te reo Māori was undertaken by Pākehā (European New Zealanders) with little or no consultation with Māori, the 1952 revision was the first edition where Māori took charge of the translation of the text. In 1946, a committee of scholars, including the prominent politician and lawyer, Sir Āpirana Turupa Ngata, was formed with the aim of completely revising the Bible in te reo Māori. Typographical errors were corrected, the formality of the language was adjusted with the particle ‘ko’ re-installed, and the text re-formatted in verse style to produce a version which, although not unanimously agreed upon, was universally accepted because Māori were involved in the revision.

Full title:
Ko te Paipera Tapu ara, ko te Kawenata Tawhito me te Kawenata How
1952, London
Printed book
Usage terms

Ko te Paipera Tapu, arā, ko te Kāwenata Tawhito me te Kāwenata Hou (Maori Bible, 1952) © Bible Society 1952. The Maori Bible is administered by the Bible Society of New Zealand, all rights reserved, for more information visit www.biblesociety.org.nz.

Held by
British Library

Full catalogue details

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