The Lyrics: Māori, Literal English and Free English
There are three sets of lyrics below:
- Māori: the official Māori lyrics of the National Anthem, as written by Thomas H Smith.
- Free English: Professor Timoti Karetu's translation of Thomas Smith's Māori lyrics into English.
- Literal English: my own attempt to produce a literal "word-for-word" translation of the Māori lyrics into English, using Professor Karetu's translation as a starting point.
The lyrics are displayed in the order of Māori, Literal English and Free English, because the intent of Correspondence is to teach a new language (in this case Māori) by showing text in that language next to a literal word-for-word translation into the reader's native language (in this case English).
Mouse over the lyrics to see the relationships between the Māori and the English translations.
History and Caveat
The Māori version of New Zealands's national anthem "God Defend New Zealand" is "Aotearoa", written by Thomas H Smith in 1878. The Māori version is not a direct translation of the English version, although it does share some of its sentiments.
There is a "back-translation" of the Māori version into English produced by former Māori language commissioner Professor Timoti Karetu.
Unfortunately, Correspondence works best with literal "word-for-word" translations, and some parts of Professor Karetu's translation are not so literal (i.e. those parts are more of a "free translation"). So, for the purposes of demonstrating Correspondence, I have had to make my own translation, using Professor Karetu's translation as a starting point, but changing those parts where his translation is less literal. To do this, not being particularly knowledgeable about the Māori language, I had to look up every word of the Māori lyrics in http://www.maoridictionary.co.nz. And even after doing that, I cannot be sure of what some of the Māori words mean in the specific context of those lyrics. So, as you can see below, my attempted literal translation has a few question marks in it.
If you have any suggestions for improvement, email me.
- Professor Karetu left "Aotearoa" as "Aotearoa" in his translation, so I have not changed that. "Aotearoa" is Māori for "New Zealand", which translates more literally as "Land of the Long White Cloud". (Note: even the literal translation of "Aotearoa" is somewhat problematic, as explained here.)