Topics: Māori Language Week, Te Reo Māori

Baha'i prayer book translated into te reo Māori

By Mānia Clarke
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Prayers of the Baha'i faith by prophet Baha'u'llah have been translated into Māori by academic Tom Roa.  Roa says the task wasn't easy but very rewarding.

He says some Baha'i prayers can now be understood and enjoyed in Māori.

“It was about learning the Baha'i faith,” he says, “That's first and foremost so that the context is not belittled and undermined.  The meaning must be kept in the Māori translation.”

Roa was approached by Baha'i members to translate some karakia 14 years ago.

National Spiritual Assembly of NZ member Huti Puketapu-Watson says it’s been worth the wait.

“There are thousands of writings by Baha'u'llah,” says Baha'i National Spiritual Assembly of NZ member, Huri Puketapu-Watson.

“They've been translated into 800 languages.  It's right to have a Māori translation also.  It's important for our Māori followers to speak the prayers in our language to our God.”

Roa has already translated three other Baha'i writings.

He researched the original contexts of these prayers which were written in Persian and Arabic, then translated to Māori.

 “The language that Bahal'u'llah spoke was about concepts of the spirit, concepts of mysticism,” says advisor Farzbod Taefi, “So this was not a straight spoken language of day-to-day.”

“It wasn't easy,” says Roa, “it was difficult...For some of the prayers, it took four years perhaps to carefully delve into the meaning of the words.”

200 prayer books have been gifted to Roa and his marae of Purerekireki to celebrate Māori Language Week.