Treaty of Waitangi - Found in Translation

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The New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI) has announced the launch of the Treaty Times Thirty project. To celebrate the Society's 30th anniversary, over 90 translators will work together to translate the English and Māori versions of the Treaty of Waitangi into 30 languages and gift them to the people of New Zealand on International Translation Day, 30 September 2016.

Why the Treaty of Waitangi? At the heart of New Zealand's founding document, and of its interpretation, lies translation. As instructed by William Hobson, Henry Williams undertook, with his son's help, to translate into Māori what was to be known as the Treaty of Waitangi. The translation they produced overnight contains a number of key differences in meaning, which have led to divergent interpretations of the English and Māori versions of the Treaty.

The Treaty Times Thirty project highlights the translator's difficult task of re-expressing identical meaning from one language to another. It also reiterates the importance of translation in the New Zealand context, aims to make the Treaty more accessible to migrants who live here, and encourages a better understanding of the Treaty internationally.

The project has received the support of major organisations such as Archives New Zealand, the Office of Ethnic Communities and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. ”The translations of the Treaty of Waitangi in the many languages of our country will add significantly to people’s understanding of New Zealand’s founding agreement,” Treaty expert Dame Claudia Orange says. ”The planned publication is an effective way to mark the organisation’s milestone and its long-standing work.”

About NZSTI

NZSTI is the nationally representative body of translators and interpreters. It provides a networking forum for translators and interpreters, represents their interests in New Zealand, and promotes continued professional development, quality standards and awareness of the profession within government agencies and the wider community. For all enquiries, please write to treaty@nzsti.org or contact project spokesperson Stefan Grand-Meyer at 021 062 2946.