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Very Special Project Brings Te Reo to the World

Kotahi Rau Pukapuka

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Launches Ambitious New Initiative to Publish 100 Books in Te Reo Māori

“Te kākahu korowai o te rangatira, he kōrero”

“The emblem of an insightful leader is the cloak they wear, each feather symbolising the beauty, elegance and power of words”

A project to publish 100 books in te reo Māori – led off by a translation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – was launched in Auckland on Wednesday 9th October by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Kotahi Rau Pukapuka Trust was formally launched October 9 2019 at a function at the University of Auckland by the Prime Minister. The charitable trust will lead the project and work with Auckland University Press, and with early backing from iwi, corporate and private philanthropy, Creative New Zealand and Te Mātāwai.

‘It is an incredible pleasure to launch this very special project, as it further encourages us to experience the joy of reading, but also brings te reo to the world,’ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

The Trust’s mission is to publish a great library of literature in te reo Māori, that every home and school will be proud to own.

The library will include books for young readers and adults, from Aotearoa and around the world, original work in te reo and translations from global languages – from Poia Rewi’s Whaikōrero to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, from Paula Morris’ Rangatira to Avengers vs X-Men from Marvel Comics.

The first titles will publish in 2020. Publishing five or more titles a year – a pace the Trust aims to increase over time – the Kotahi Rau Pukapuka Trust will produce 100 books in te reo Māori. 

Author Witi Ihimaera is the Trust’s patron and said it is a project whose time has come.

“In the second decade of the millennium, New Zealanders both Māori and Pākehā have acknowledged the role of the reo in our daily lives. Māori 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 wānanga night classes, there is currently almost nothing to read. 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.”

Fellow trustee Pānia Papa, who was a founding board member of Te Mātāwai, established by the Crown under the Māori Language Act 2016 to lead te reo Māori revitalisation on behalf of iwi and Māori, thanked the Prime Minister.

“We are very grateful that our Prime Minister - and Arts and Culture Minister - has been able to launch this bold new kaupapa that will bring te reo onto bookshelves and into devices showcasing the translation and writing skills of a growing pool of te reo experts from around the country.

“The quality and range of the books will excite every reader of te reo Māori, and hopefully encourage many more to learn te reo. Thanks to some of our initial supporters – and Jason Witehira, the owner-operator of Victoria Park New World in central Auckland – 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.

“This is just the start. We expect to be able to continue to source works that will interest people in te reo Māori, knowing that over time more and more great books will be available to read in the language. It is a thrill to be associated with a project like this.”