The Laws of England, Compiled and translated into the Māori language.
The following pages have been prepared by direction of His Excellency the Governor of New Zealand, with the view of placing in the hands of Her Majesty's Subjects of the Maori Race such information, with respect to the Laws and Institutions of the Nation into which they have been incorporated, as may be found practically useful in their present stage of civilization.
It is hoped, also, that, as a Summary of English Law, the present volume may not be altogether without value in the hands of Magistrates and others, who may be called upon to administer or explain our laws to the Aboriginal Natives of this Country.
From the nature of the subject treated it was only to be expected that considerable difficulty would be found in the attempt to present in an intelligible manner the precise definitions, nice distinctions, and technicalities of the Law, through the medium of a rude language, which, though far from poor in expression or defective in structure, is better adapted for narration or description of natural objects, than for dealing with abstract subjects. How far this difficulty has been overcome the judgment of those who are skilled in the Maori tongue must determine. The plan of placing the Maori and English in opposite pages, making the paragraphs correspond with each other, has been. adopted for this reason, among others;—that in case of obscurity in the Maori a reference to the English, on the opposite page, may at once afford the means of correcting misapprehension, by shewing what was intended to be conveyed.
It should be stated that the materials of this Book were first compiled in English, and then wrought into their present shape in Maori, of which the English given is a translation: this will explain an apparent redundancy of style in the latter which might otherwise be inexcusable. The merit of intelligibility to the Maori reader has been thought of more importance, in a work of this kind, than that of strict conformity to rules of English composition.
The English reader will doubtless discover numerous defects in the present attempt. Had a longer time been available for maturing the plan and executing the details of the work, it might have appeared in a less imperfect shape. It is hoped that what has been done may serve as a ground-work for something more comprehensive and complete at a future time.
Recent movements among some of the Native Tribes indicate a growing perception in the Maori Race of their social wants, and make it desirable that the Government of the Country should, with as little delay as possible, place within their reach such information respecting our Laws and Institutions as may, with the Divine blessing, prove the means of directing their efforts to legitimate objects inducing results beneficial alike to both races.
Native Secretary's Office,April, 1858.