Treaty x Thirty

Treaty x Thirty

March 3, 2016

Stefan Grand-Meyer and Olga Suvorova hope that their project to translate the Treaty of Waitangi into 30 different languages will help New Zealanders from different cultural backgrounds access the Treaty and also encourage a better appreciation of it internationally.

The team will translate both the Māori and English versions but the thirty languages have yet to be announced.

Facilitated by the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI), Treaty Times Thirty, was created to celebrate NZSTI’s thirtieth year. Ninety translators will work on the translation.

Treaty and Indigenous Rights Commissioner Karen Johansen, welcoming the ambitious project said,

“I commend the Society on this important work because I believe that it will help more people to feel that they are part of a country that has developed based on the promises...

“I am excited about the potential these translations have to develop greater understanding of the Treaty as a human rights document for all New Zealanders to feel part of and involved with.”

The original Treaty was translated by missionaries, Henry and Edward Williams who had lived with Māori for 17 years. Their translation was written overnight in consultation with Māori chiefs. The resulting translation was imperfect, with some concepts such as sovereignty and ownership of land being interpreted differently.

However, translation has come a long way since then and the Treaty Times Thirty coordinators hope the project will enable the differences between the two versions of the Treaty to be illustrated and also an appreciation of the challenges that come with translation across cultures.

The translations will be gifted to all New Zealanders on International Translation Day, 30 September 2016.

Dig Deeper:

You can read the rest of the March edition of the Turangawaewae newsletter here.


Tūrangawaewae is the Human Rights Commission's newsletter. You can read any of our editions of Tūrangawaewae here.

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