Bible helping save the Tokelauan language

This week is Tokelau Language week – seven days dedicated to maintaining and promoting the Tokelaun language.

A translation review team in action.

More than 7,000 Tokelauans live in New Zealand, with 50% living in Wellington as well as Tokelauan communities in Auckland, Taupō, and Rotorua. There are only 1,400 Tokelauans living on the island of Tokelau.

The 2006 Census reported that the Tokelauan language is one of the most-at-risk Pacific languages in New Zealand, along with Niuean and Cook Island Maori. Today only 34% of Tokelauans speak their heritage language.

A scene from the launch of the Tokelauan New Testament at Pahina O Tokelaua, Porirua, in 2009.

This is why our Tokelau Bible translation project is so important. Not only does it mean Tokelauans can read the Bible in their own tongue but it will also lead to the preservation of their language and, as part of that, their culture.

The completion of the Tokelauan Bible next year will be end of a 21-year project for head translator Ionae Teao. Ioane has dedicated his life to this project, which was initiated by the Tokelauan Society for the Translation of the Bible and supported by Bible Society New Zealand.

Listen to Dr Stephen Pattemore speaking on Radio New Zealand about the Tokelauan translation project (click on the logo)

The Tokelauan New Testament was launched in June in 2009 with great celebrations and accolades. Now as the finishing touches are made to the Tokelauan Old Testament next year, and publication set for early 2019, the Tokelauan community in New Zealand will again have cause for celebration.

To resource Tokelauan Language Week, we’ve made available our

popular Little Book of Hope in Tokelauan (picture right). This palm-sized booklet contains Bible verses grouped under the themes of peace, strength, unity and hope.

Ke manuia koutou i te Alofa o te Atua. Tokelauan for May you be blessed in God’s love.

 

More about The Little Book of Hope