Trans­lat­ing the Treaty for for­eign schol­ars

Kapi-Mana News - - WHAT’S ON - JIM CHIPP

The Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral will re­ceive an un­usual birth­day gift in Septem­ber – a book con­tain­ing the Treaty of Wai­tangi trans­lated into 30 lan­guages.

The New Zealand So­ci­ety of Trans­la­tors and In­ter­preters’ Welling­ton branch has cho­sen to mark 30 years of its ex­is­tence with the un­usual pro­ject.

Or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber Ian Cor­mack, a Maori in­ter­preter, said the treaty was prob­a­bly unique.

No other in­dige­nous race had been colonised by treaty rather than by con­quest, he said.

‘‘They [Maori] are the only one that we know of,’’ he said.

For that rea­son it was likely to be of wide­spread in­ter­est.

‘‘New Zealand was founded on the treaty and the trans­la­tion by Henry Wil­liams and his son, overnight,’’ Cor­mack said.

The treaty was signed the fol­low­ing day at Wai­tangi on Fe­bru­ary 6, 1840, but the var­i­ous ver­sions of the treaty have been con­tentious ever since.

The so­ci­ety in­tended to steer clear of pol­i­tics, stick­ing to a pro­fes­sion­ally ob­jec­tive trans­la­tion of the words, he said.

Among the lan­guages cho­sen are French, Ger­man, Span­ish, Chi­nese and Esperanto.

The trans­la­tors will work from the ap­proved English trans­la­tion of the orig­i­nal Maori ver­sion.

The pro­ject was the brain­child of Span­ish in­ter­preter/trans­la­tor Ce­cilia Ti­t­u­laer, who moved to Welling­ton 20 years ago from Ar­gentina.

She had al­ways planned a Span­ish trans­la­tion of the treaty one day.

‘‘I’ve been work­ing with mi­grants since I ar­rived in New Zealand. It’s been on my bucket list, but I hadn’t got around to do­ing it.’’

The so­ci­ety en­thu­si­as­ti­cally took up the pro­ject and a com­mit­tee was formed to over­see and co-or­di­nate the team of vol­un­tary trans­la­tors.

‘‘We de­cided we would re­ceive three trans­la­tions per lan­guage, and each trans­la­tion would be peer re­viewed by the peo­ple do­ing the trans­la­tions,’’ Ti­t­u­laer said.

It was a purely lin­guis­tic pro­ject by peo­ple who liked work­ing with words, many of who were mi­grants, she said.

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