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Book & Print in New Zealand : A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa

Pacific Island languages

Pacific Island languages

Any atlas clearly shows New Zealand is a Pacific Island nation, and it is well known that Māori, the tangata whenua, are a Polynesian people. Generally speaking, however, New Zealanders are not very aware of the wider Polynesian, and still wider Pacific Island economic and cultural context into which New Zealand fits. But, for most of this century, New Zealand has had a very special relationship with and responsibility for four Pacific Island (and also Polynesian) countries—Niue, Tokelau, Western Samoa and the Cook Islands—and therefore their people and cultures.

It is the print culture connection between these four countries and New Zealand which is the main focus of this section. This field has been little explored before, and the content of the section is original research which provides a framework for further investigation. It covers language, religious and educational publishing, together with overviews of other publishing activity in this century; a summary of sources and resources for identifying and locating copies of material is appended.

The initial special relationship from the New Zealand perspective was one of administrative and therefore wider cultural and social responsibility. For the small and scattered populations of these tiny atolls and islands, the relationship was—and still is for Tokelau (since 1948)—one of dependency. Of the three other former Pacific Island dependencies, the Cook Islands (1901-64) and Niue (1901-73) still retain some constitutional features of dependency in their external and defence relations, plus automatic New Zealand citizenship and use of New Zealand currency. Only Western Samoa (1919-61) is now fully independent.

While New Zealand did not colonise the island territories, the administrative interrelationship certainly had a major impact in areas significant to the context of print culture such as education, and language use, although the foundations for these had been laid by the missionary 'invasions' of the early 19th century. The first half of the 20th century was not known for its active support of indigenous languages and cultures and this is reflected in the print culture evidence of that time from the territories.

Possibly even more significant than administrative responsibility, another special relationship developed—immigration to New Zealand from the 1960s onwards in search of education, employment—and even survival, where island resources could not support growing populations (such as Niue). Today (apart from Western Samoa) by far the majority of nationals from these territories are actually resident in New Zealand; comparative 1991-92 figures are:

Nationality NZ population Island population
Cook Islands 37,857 18,552
Niue 14,424 2,239
Tokelau 4,146 1,577
Western Samoa 85,743 161,298

On the basis of these statistics, New Zealanders arguably now have an even greater print culture responsibility (language and literacy support, education, publication) towards the people of these countries than during their time of dependency, apart perhaps from Western Samoa. It is encouraging to note the work of the Ministry of Education and Learning Media Ltd and other community and private sector organisations in meeting some of these needs. In certain instances a few key individuals appear to hold the burden of responsibility for the future of languages under threat of extinction due to the overpowering influence (especially economic) of English. And, ironically, English is the shared language when groups of mixed Pacific Islanders need to communicate—in whatever medium.

The demographics of the population figures also hold print culture messages for New Zealand in the future: while Pacific Islanders are 3.8% of the total population (mostly in Auckland (67%) and Wellington (16%)), they comprise 7.05% of the primary/secondary school population. While the Ministry of Education and Learning Media are therefore making a positive contribution to meet the print culture needs of the largest number of Pacific Islanders (i.e. school age), this situation will change as fully literate children move through to adulthood with quite different reading needs—and virtually non-existent resources to meet them at present.

There are many challenges.

Language and religious publishing

Following the period of exploration and discovery of the Pacific, the significant new arrivals were missionaries, who established a strong connection between needing to formalise the language in order to translate and create a literature of religion. While there are still some links between documenting the language and religion, today much of the major work on language is associated with research institutions and governments, with the private sector (including community groups) publishing course books and grammars for learners. However, the Methodist Church continues to have a strong specialist role in the islands as the only current bookshop owners, and offering both general and religious stock as well as stationery.

The London Missionary Society (LMS) provided the first missionaries, establishing stations in the territories as follows: Cook Islands (1820s), Western Samoa (1830), Niue (1846), Tokelau (1860s). Since then there have been many missionaries and churches of other religions, and differences between the religions practised by nationals in the islands and those in New Zealand. Partly because of the strong oral traditions, especially in religion, there appears to have been little published in the indigenous languages apart from the Bible and prayer and hymn books, but this is a topic that could be followed up in more detail.

The sections which follow tend to have an emphasis on the work of the early missionaries (because of their groundwork in formalising the languages) and the predominant religion. Further research into the publications of other churches, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon Church), and Seventh Day Adventists, remains to be done. For example, the Mormon Church printed hundreds of items in Pacific Island languages (especially Tongan and Samoan) in Auckland between 1968 and the mid 1980s. Any such publications are useful resources for tracking language use in addition to their primary religious purpose or bibliographic interest.

Cook Islands Māori

Cook Islands Māori is the language of the majority of Cook Islanders, most of whom are from the island of Rarotonga, the dialect of which has become predominant. The two other distinct languages in this island group are Pukapukan and English (Palmerston Island). Efforts to preserve Pukapukan are supported in New Zealand by children's books published from the Mataaliki Press, which also has a Pukapukan dictionary forthcoming.

Work on recording Cook Islands Māori began with arrival of the LMS missionary John Williams on Aitutaki in 1821. In 1823 his entourage, which included the Tahitian Papehia, arrived on Rarotonga, and in 1827 Williams returned with Charles Pitman. Both could already speak Tahitian, the language used by the missionaries for their religious work, and were able to learn Rarotongan, devising the 13-letter alphabet and written vocabulary during this time, and composing the first hymns in the vernacular. Aaron Buzacott arrived in 1828, allowing Williams to focus on translating the Bible (Te Bibilia Tapu)—initial translations commenced in 1828, with a complete text published first in 1851. Buzacott's Te Akataka Reo Rarotonga (published 1854-69) long remained the authoritative grammatical resource.

The missionaries were initially responsible not only for religious affairs, but were also instrumental in formal education as well as civil law—in 1827 Williams and Pitman formulated a Western-style code of laws which was accepted and signed by the assembly of local chiefs.

By the early 1830s, coastal settlements were established and the printing press was in full operation under Buzacott's guidance, consequently 90% of the Rarotongan population was able to gain access to religious literature in their own language. By the mid 1850s most Rarotongans were able to read, though the pace on the outer islands was slower. Literature during this early period was the Bible, books and notes of sermons, mission periodicals and catechisms in both Cook Islands Māori and English. Literature of an educational nature was initially accessible to the Western missionary families and to children of the local aristocracy. While the language of education during the missionary period was Cook Islands Māori, after that time English was and still is used.

The Bible remains as the most comprehensive published body of literature in Cook Islands Māori. The various current denominations in the Cook Islands (including Cook Islands Christian Church, Catholic, Mormon) translate and often develop their own educational resources for their adherents which includes material for children. Material developed by specific denominations is not widely known outside the denomination, and often is not clearly identified as to date and source. Examples include the Catholic hymnbook Kia Puroro te Reo . . ., which also shows dialectal signs of having been translated from Tahitian, apparently a fairly common practice. Within New Zealand, the Pacific Islanders Presbyterian Church (PIC) is the predominant denomination of Cook Islanders, but it does not produce material in Cook Islands Māori. As in the secular field, no major research has been conducted to collate and assess religious material in Cook Islands Māori.

Key language reference works include dictionaries by Savage (1962), now superseded by the long-awaited work by Buse and Taringa (1995). Buse also published several articles in the 1960s on grammatical aspects of the language which are still regarded as authoritative. C.R.H. Taylor's Pacific Bibliography (1965, p.119) lists a number of earlier articles and publications on languages of the Cook group.

Taira Rere's work, mainly in the 1970s and early 1980s, is still used in the teaching of the language, for example Maori Lessons for the Cook Islands. The paucity of textbook literature available in New Zealand prompted Carpentier and Beaumont to prepare their 1995Kai Kōrero course book. Language nests and courses offered through community institutions either develop their own resources, utilise those published by bodies such as Anau Ako Pasifika, or rely on texts already in existence. Cook Islands Māori Studies at Victoria University of Wellington, disestablished at the end of 1996, offered language courses using the texts already mentioned above, as well those developed by the course coordinator.

Such is the dominance of the English language through the impact of trade, tourism and the formal education system, the future of Cook Islands Māori language is considered to be threatened in both New Zealand and the Islands. However, a community-based Cook Islands language group is currently looking at developing a language curriculum for adoption within New Zealand schools which may well necessitate the compilation of new language texts to support its survival.


The major impact on the Niuean language has been English, originally as a result of the work of missionaries and (initially) use of English as the language of education. This influence is so strong that indigenous Niueans are close to being naturally bilingual. More recently, large scale immigration to New Zealand has lead to an increasing proportion of New Zealand-born Niueans for whom Niuean is not a first language, nor a language which will provide employment.

LMS missionaries were active in Niue between 1846 and 1890, and were responsible for formalising the alphabet and producing a complete Bible (Ko e Tohi Tapu) and hymnbook (Ko e Tau Lologo Tapu) in Niuean, both of which are still in print. Following the missionary period, Niuean religion became Congregationalist (to 1969) and then either mostly Presbyterian (in New Zealand) or Ekalesia Niue (in Niue). Although church services (in English first, under the LMS) are now conducted in Niuean, there is no printed prayerbook or other religious publications (e.g. readers for children) apart from occasional items produced about ten years ago by the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand.

Several notes on vocabulary and grammar were published in the Journal of the Polynesian Society between 1893 and 1907, but the first substantial dictionary (with a few pages of supporting grammar) was J.M. McEwen's Niue Dictionary (1970) which was selective and based on non-standard spelling (using 'ng' rather than 'g').

Since 1989, Lagi Sipeli has been working on a comprehensive dictionary of current usage in consultation with Niueans both in New Zealand and on the island itself. Some differences appear to be developing between the language as it is used in Niue and that used in New Zealand. William Seiter's thesis Studies in Niuean Syntax (1980) is the only identified major piece of linguistic research into Niuean, but there is no standard reference grammar, nor any such work underway.

The most recent course book for studying the language is Aiao Kaulima and Clive Beaumont's First Book for Learning Niuean (1994), based on materials produced for adult classes at the Pacific Islanders' Educational Resource Centre in Auckland.

Niuean is not taught as part of the formal New Zealand education system, although Learning Media Ltd produces children's stories for use in schools in the language. However, work actively continues to ensure that the language is not lost—through compiling the comprehensive dictionary and a new version of the hymnbook, and in community-based language nests in Auckland and Wellington. Niueans in New Zealand have become more conscious of their shared culture and collective interests and responsibility than the village-based society of the island encouraged, though the latter is changing.

In Niue itself, decolonisation has strengthened awareness of the distinctiveness of Niuean culture and language, and the indigenous language is now used in preschool and secondary education. It is essential that such efforts are maintained if the Niuean language is to survive and develop.


Ever since Christianity was established in the Tokelaus between the late 1860s and early 1870s, virtually all religious functions were conducted in the Samoan language. Samoan missionaries—Catholic, London Missionary Society, and later Presbyterian—working in the Tokelauan communities established mission schools on the islands, with the Samoan language as the medium of instruction. Gradually this introduced language permeated the local cultural arenas to such an extent that all important Tokelau cultural functions were eventually conducted in Samoan. Consequently the local language was confined to unimportant and 'mundane' spheres of the culture. Even at home, family prayers were conducted in Samoan.

The importance attached to the acquisition of the Samoan language was further given impetus with the introduction in 1951 of the state schools with Samoan as the medium of instruction. When Western Samoa was declared independent in 1962, Tokelau opted to remain under New Zealand, and the language gradually became one of the topical points for discussions in various village circles in Tokelau. In the early 1960s English became the language of education until Tokelauan was used from the 1970s.

Undoubtedly individuals used their own versions of an alphabet when the urge to write a 'fatele' or dancing song motivated them. However, after a drawn-out debate, an alphabet was produced and ratified in 1967 by the Fono Fakamua (governing body of Tokelau) to be adopted for use in schools. The Fono also decided that a dictionary should be prepared, and a translation of the English Bible into Tokelauan. Both these major projects were undertaken simultaneously, and Ropati Simona's Tokelau Dictionary (which also includes a grammar) was published in 1986. A specialist dictionary, Angelo and Kirifi's Law Lexicon (1986), was compiled for legislative purposes. Other significant research into Tokelauan syntax are theses by Peter Sharples (1989) and Robin Hooper (1993). The only published course book, Even Hovdhaugen's Hand-book (1989) is too expensive for general use.

The Bible project was more complex. Each island formed its own Bible Review Committee, to receive translated material from Ropati Simona at Auckland University, via the Office for Tokelau Affairs in Apia, Western Samoa. The Bible Society supported the project and offered free expert consultancy service, under the auspices of its Fiji branch. From time to time, booklets containing biblical stories in Tokelauan (some in comic format) were sent to the islands. However, communication problems between the translator
Black and white print

The first issue of Tusitala mo A'oga Samoa (July 1947), the Samoan language version of the School Journal. This was the first publication in any Pacific Island language published by the then Department of Education School Publications Branch, which went on to produce versions in Niuean, Cook Islands Māori and Tokelauan in the 1950s and 60s. Today, publications in Pacific Island languages are a major part of the activities of Learning Media Ltd (successor to School Publications); every 12 days an item is published in one of the five major languages. This is a very positive contribution towards the print culture needs of Pacific Island children, who now comprise over 7% of the New Zealand school-age population. (Reproduced by permission of the Ministry of Education, Wellington)

and the Tokelau-based reviewing committees finally led to the dwindling of inputs from the committees and eventually to a full stop.

Fortunately religious groups continued producing material in Tokelauan. In 1983 the Tokelau Catholic community in Wellington started work on translating the Catholic Missal (Tuhi Miha hā Muamua-Faitauga . . .) into Tokelauan, taking only two years to complete it. On the other hand, the Tokelau Pacific Island Presbyterian Church in Auckland started translating and composing hymns in Tokelauan under Reverend Tepou, Ropati Simona as facilitator, and Lutu Epati as musical director. The group achieved its goal in 1990 with the publication of Ko nā Pehe ma nā Vīkiga o te Atua—translations of Protestant Samoan hymns with some original Tokelauan ones.

Due to renewed interest raised by the National Tokelau Association in New Zealand in translating the Bible, Tokelauans in New Zealand and in the home islands decided to again enter into a joint venture for this project. This time the New Zealand Bible Society would provide free consultancy and technological expertise, while the Tokelau people themselves via the cooperating churches (Protestant and Catholic) would translate and review the materials. The project, launched in June 1996, is being carried out by Ioane Teao, Father Penehe Patelesio and Loimata Iupati.

The Bible project is seen as an important step in preserving the Tokelauan language, which is currently taught in New Zealand at language nests and some primary schools.

Western Samoan

The first significant linguistic material in Samoan was collected after the arrival of the LMS in August 1830. By the time these missionaries arrived in Samoa, their linguistic training, difficulties and experience in translating the Bible in other Pacific Islands (such as Tonga and Tahiti) benefited the Samoan translators greatly in translating both the Bible and other religious material. One of the major tasks of the LMS was to devise an orthography, and the first Samoan imprints were distributed in Samoa by 1834. By 1839 Samoa had its own press in operation producing parts of the New Testament although a complete Bible (O le Tusi Paia) was not published until 1862, since when there have been several different editions. Other religions arrived slightly later: Wesleyan (1835), Catholic (1845), with Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists at the end of the century. Today the main religions practised by Samoans in New Zealand are Congregational, Pacific Islanders Presbyterian Church (PIC), Catholic, Mormon and Seventh Day Adventist.

Religious material in Samoan such as the Bible, prayer books, theology (as well as the history of some denominations) is produced by several organisations such as the Bible Society of the South Pacific in Fiji; Bible Society in New Zealand, Wellington; Methodist Church in Western Samoa; the Arch-diocese of the Catholic Church in Western Samoa and the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand in Wellington. There are hardly any readers for children based on religious stories, although a limited number of these were published in American Samoa a number of years ago. No research into religious publications in Samoan has been identified.

During the earliest period, no published grammar or Samoan dictionary was available, and the first such work, by George Pratt of the LMS, did not appear until 1862. However, Horatio Hale's major analysis of Samoan had appeared in 1846 as a result of the United States Exploring Expedition of 1838-42. Taylor (1965, pp.280-83) records a significant number of publications on aspects of the language, many in German and dating from the German colonial period. A.K. Pawley's work, published 1961-67, offered the earliest grammatical framework for Samoan, based on the work done on Māori by Bruce Biggs. John Mayer, author of a useful 1976 American Peace Corps course book Samoan Language (no longer in print) is currently carrying out major research into Samoan at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Samoan is one of the stronger languages among Pacific Island populations, reflecting its larger population base, and Samoan has always been used as the language of religion and education in the islands, including during the missionary period. Consequently there are a number of current key reference works: Pratt's Grammar and Dictionary, Downs's Everyday Samoan, Mosel and Hovdhaugen's Samoan Reference Grammar, Milner's Samoan Dictionary, and Allardice's Simplified Dictionary. For learners, Alfred Hunkin's course book (with cassette) Gagana Samoa (1988) is the main resource.

In 1996 the New Zealand Ministry of Education published a bilingual curriculum document for teaching Samoan language in the New Zealand education system from the pre-school to tertiary levels. This document, Taiala mo le Gagana Samoa has become an important document for the teaching of spoken and written Samoan in New Zealand where Samoan is now taught from pre-school up to university levels with quite a number of Samoan pre-schools in the main centres of Auckland and Wellington, and a few others in smaller centres such as Christchurch, Dunedin, Tokoroa and Wanganui. A growing number of primary and secondary schools are teaching Samoan.

Current initiatives include a teachers' development programme (in Auckland and Wellington) for preschool, primary and secondary schools so that teachers can understand and use the curriculum for classroom programmes. Research by Hunkin on a Samoan word frequency count from a sample of 300,000 mainly secular spoken and written examples is underway at Victoria University of Wellington. In due course this will help teachers in the classroom to teach the most frequently used words in the Samoan language.

Educational publishing

The two major influences on secular educational publishing in Pacific Islands languages are migration from the Islands to New Zealand from the late 1960s onwards, and the dominant role of the Department (later Ministry) of Education from the late 1940s, through its School Publications Branch (corporatised in 1989 as Learning Media Ltd).

While New Zealand acquired the four Pacific Island territories of Cook Islands, Niue, Western Samoa and Tokelau between 1900 and 1926, there is no evidence so far of secular educational publications in their languages published in New Zealand before 1947, and this is an area for further research. Independence (for the first three) saw responsibility pass to the islands' own education departments, though recently New Zealand agencies have resumed production of some of their educational resources.

The School Publications Branch of the New Zealand Department of Education published resources in Samoan, Cook Islands Māori, Tokelauan, and Niuean for use in schools in the territories—but nothing, apparently, in Pukapukan (a second Cook Islands language).

While these publications ranged across the curriculum, most were reading resources—usually School Journal-like periodicals, often sharing part of their contents, in translation, with the School Journal. Towards the end they increasingly included material by indigenous writers. The titles of these journals were:

  • Samoan: Tusitala mo A'oga Samoa, 1947-54 (38 issues); split into Tusitala mo Vasega Laiti Samoa and Tusitala mo Vasega Tetele Samoa, both 1955-62 (21 issues of each).
  • Niuean: Tohi Tala ma e tau Aoga Niue, 1950-58 (26 issues); split into Tohi Tala ma e Fanau Ikiiki Niue, 1959-64 (12 issues) and Tohi Tala ma e Fanau Lalahi Niue, 1959-66 (13 issues).
  • Cook Islands Māori: Te Tuatua Apii o te Kuki Airani, 1950-66 (70 issues).
  • Tokelauan: Tala mo A'oga i Tokelau, 1951-58 (11 issues, those to 1954 being in Samoan, the then language of education; in 1954 Tokelauan appeared for the first time in print in this publication); Tuhi Tala mo Tamaiti, 1959-64 (5 issues).

Other government agencies also published educational material in these languages, including the departments of Island Territories, Māori and Island Affairs, and External Affairs. Many were actually produced by the Department of Education through its School Publications or Island Education units. One substantial output was the translation of nearly a dozen children's classics (e.g. Defoe's Robinson Crusoe) into Niuean in the 1960s and 1970s. A 1957 Unesco study, The New Zealand School Publications Branch, describes its activities to that time (see especially pp.28-30).

Major immigration by Pacific Islanders to New Zealand from the 1960s onwards (especially to Auckland and Wellington) led to a growing number of children of Pacific Island ancestry attending school in New Zealand and a dramatic shift in publishing patterns. The New Zealand Department of Education (a 'Ministry' after 1989) began publishing resources for New Zealand schools in five languages: Samoan, Cook Islands Māori, Tokelauan, Niuean, and Tongan. Virtually all these were initially for preschool and primary school use and mainly for recreational reading, but a trend towards material for secondary school levels and more formal instruction is developing, supported by Pacific Island language curricula (e.g. for Samoan, 1996).

School Publications Branch/Learning Media Ltd produced more than 200 items in the 20 years to 1996, and with increasing frequency—five publications during 1983; one publication every 12 days in 1996. It has also published books in Tuvaluan, Tokelauan, Samoan and Fijian for use in those islands. Major local use publications during this period included bilingual social studies resources in Cook Islands Māori, Samoan and Tokelauan and the Tupu series with accompanying cassettes. Up to 25 picture books (usually 8-16 pages) and five read-along cassettes are currently published annually in the Tupu series which began in 1988, most in five separate language editions. The stories are written by Pacific Island writers and feature the lives of Pacific Island children in both New Zealand cities and in the islands. All these publications are supplied free of charge to New Zealand schools.

Over the same period other publishers produced a further 100 items, including the only publications in Pukapukan (from Mataaliki Press) and the Pasifika Press series of dictionaries and/or language course books in Samoan, Cook Islands Māori and Tongan. A summary of this activity is described in Don Long's 1993 article 'Publishing in Pacific Island community languages for New Zealand schools'.

The Crown-owned Learning Media Ltd is the most prolific publisher of educational materials in Pacific Island languages through its contracts with the Ministry of Education, and arrangements with education departments in Samoa, Niue, Tokelau and Tuvalu. This very active publishing role of the Ministry contrasts with similar agencies in Australia and America. In 1997 Learning Media Ltd produced A Guide to the Pacific Learning Material 1976-96, a guide to the Ministry's Pacific publications.

Other publishers of resources (particularly in Samoan) include Anau Ako Pasifika, Pasifika Press (formerly Polynesian Press), Penguin (in its Puffin Books), and Scholastic (formerly Ashton Scholastic). The most prolific after the Ministry is PIERC Education (formerly the Pacific Islanders' Educational Resource Centre) in Auckland and WMERC Inc. (formerly the Wellington Multicultural Educational Resource Centre). Catalogues are generally available from these publishers. Preschool groups, especially in Samoan, and other small publishers are also becoming established.

A specialist Auckland bookshop Books Pasifika (formerly Polynesian Bookshop) provides libraries and other purchasers with catalogues and a means of acquiring material which would otherwise be difficult to locate.

The New Zealand and Tokelauan national bibliographies both include educational publications, though the former has very limited coverage for the period to 1960.

A shift towards the more formal inclusion of Pacific Island languages within New Zealand education was indicated in the 1993 New Zealand Curriculum Framework and followed through into the Samoan curriculum published in 1996. This approach results from the growing percentage of school-age children with Pacific Island ancestry, and the desire of their parents for their children to receive a bilingual education, or at least the teaching of their own languages at school. (As reported by Kerslake and Bennie in their 1990 Survey of the Needs for Resources in Pacific Islands Languages and the MRL Research Group's research report, Maori and Pacific Island Language Demand for Educational Services, 1995.)

Educational publishing will continue to develop in this direction. The Ministry of Education plans to continue to play a strong role, together with other general educational publishers and specialist smaller Pacific Island language publishers.

Colonial consolidation, 1900-1960

During the main period of New Zealand's administration of Pacific Islands territories there is little evidence of publishing activity in the indigenous languages in fields other than religion and education (discussed in preceding sections). Only about 50 items have been identified in the main institutional collections, fewer than half published in New Zealand.

The Polynesian Society appears to have been the most significant publisher. M.P.K. Sorrensen notes in his centennial history of the Society (p.33) that its Journal had published relevant papers both in the indigenous language and English translation since the first issues in 1892. In its second decade, for example, there were articles in Niuean, Tahitian, and Rarotongan, on topics such as traditional tales and chants. The Society occasionally reprinted these articles separately, for example Wyatt Gill's Rarotonga Records (1916). The scattering of other publications printed in New Zealand were mostly grammars and dictionaries, including Tregear and Smith's Vocabulary and Grammar of the Niue Dialect (1907), and Whitcombe's Tongan Phrase Book (c.1945).

Most vernacular publishing during the period occurred in the Cook Islands and Western Samoa. It appears that almost nothing was published in Niue or Tokelau—the latter being already supplied with Samoan language material.

In Western Samoa, the long-established LMS printery at Malua at times supplemented its religious and educational output with commercial printing work. It printed a little annual calendar in the years around 1915-20, O le Kalena Samoa, which in 1918 carried an advertisement seeking more local work for its printing, bookbinding and paper ruling establishment. In 1922, it produced a pamphlet in English and Samoan on the Duties of Officials, and in 1930, O le Tusi Faalupega o Samoa, a guide to Samoan ranks and names. Samoan versions of some classic European tales were also printed, including Stories from the Arabian Nights (1925) and Stevenson's The Bottle Imp (1926). From 1948 annual reports of the Department of Island Territories are sources for details of information services, printing and publishing (e.g. AJHR A.4, 1955, p.116 for the Malua printery).

Local politics and government administrative duties produced some publications in both Western Samoa and the Cook Islands. Many were bilingual; some had parallel texts, while in others, the English and vernacular texts covered quite different subjects. In the Cook Islands, the political paper Ioi Karanga (1898-1901) and the administration's Cook Islands Gazette (1898-1926) and Cook Islands Review (1954-70) are examples. The Government Printer in Rarotonga also printed such items as a Translation of the Cook Islands Act 1915 into Rarotonga Maori (1915), Trotter's Glossary of English and Rarotongan (c.1917), and H. Bond James's Rough Notes on Rarotongan (1923).

From 1905, the Western Samoan government published O le Savali monthly in Samoan for officials, continuing throughout the colonial period. English was used for most government publications until the later 1940s and early 1950s, when the Western Samoa Gazette (1920- ), some ordinances and legislation, and at least one departmental circular were produced in both Samoan and English. Proposals for constitutional development in the 1950s were bilingual.

The weekly independent local newspaper the Samoa Bulletin (1950-67) was also published in both languages. New Zealand's Department of Island Territories reported in 1957 that the Samoa Printing and Publishing Co., publishers of the Samoa Bulletin, undertook a variety of other work, including government publications. The New Zealand government was at this time assisting the Samoan government with equipment and technical assistance in setting up its own printing press, which began operation early in 1958.

Current: official and trade

With the wave of immigration from the Pacific Islands in the 1960s and early 1970s, successive governments began to provide funding for translations of material into the languages of these new immigrants. Pamphlets and information sheets were published by many government departments, primarily in the areas of electoral information, housing, law, social welfare and health. The Department of Māori and Island Affairs was responsible for several in the early 1970s, such as 'Life in New Zealand' in Samoan and Tokelauan. When Pacific Island Affairs was removed from the functions of the Department this work was taken over by other agencies.

The Housing Corporation was especially active, producing several series of pamphlets informing tenants of their rights and responsibilities. The Department of Social Welfare published brochures on benefits, and the Justice Department produced material on disputes tribunals, bail, parole, and information for prisoners. Every three years parliamentary election booklets and posters were produced to inform electors of the arrangements for voting. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs published a comprehensive set of pamphlets in 1990 defining such terms as layby and door-to-door selling. The major languages used were Samoan, Tongan and Cook Islands Māori, with Tokelauan, Niuean and Fijian also appearing frequently.

After 1990, cuts in public sector spending were reflected in a sharp decline in the production of such material. Notable exceptions have been information about the elections and the census. In particular, explanatory material about the referendum on changes to the voting system in 1995 was published in the major Polynesian languages. The Statistics Department has also regularly produced translations for its ongoing surveys of New Zealand households. Another main area has been health, with a number of campaigns on childhood diseases, AIDS, vaccination and so on.

It has been rare for the private sector to initiate publications of translated material. However, some interesting initiatives by non-government agencies include a 1988 SPCA pamphlet on pets in New Zealand, and the New Zealand Scouts' Association description of scouting in Western Samoa (1986), both in Samoan. Trade union organisations have occasionally put out material such as glossaries of relevant terminology. The Pacific Islanders' Educational Resource Centre in Auckland published two sets of pamphlets in 1978-89 on 'Buying a Home' and 'Mother's Jobs'.

The Tokelaus have received special attention under New Zealand government administration and there has been a major investment in communicating in Tokelauan with the population of the atolls. A quarterly newsletter Te Vakai Tokelau (in both Tokelauan and English) was published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1976 and then by the Office of Tokelauan Affairs. The State Services Commission also put out regular reports on the Tokelauan public service, including a guide to dealing with the Tokelau public service titled Ko te Vaka Tokelau (1987) which uses the analogy of a traditional outrigger canoe to represent the structure of the administrative system.

One project stands out. Since 1988 the Law Faculty of Victoria University of Wellington, with funding from the United Nations Development Programme, has been publishing a comprehensive series of translations of Tokelauan legislation, ranging from shipping, post office and customs regulations to immigration, plants, and the law of the sea. This translation work was carried out by Hosea Kirifi, Special Projects Officer for the Tokelau Administration.

Because virtually all the material referred to is ephemeral in form, it is poorly documented and difficult to track down, although some is included in bibliographies of Samoan and Tokelauan material (see section below 'Sources and resources'). To date there is no record of any research into these Pacific Island publications, but King's 1996 conference paper discusses aspects of translation work in this context, including Māori.

Most material referred to was translated by the Department of Internal Affairs during the mid 1970s to mid 1980s, and more recently by the New Zealand Translation Centre Ltd, a Wellington-based company which holds a large collection of translated public information in Pacific Island languages.

Current trends, including the reduced role of government in many aspects of New Zealand life, seem to indicate that the future emphasis will be on the maintenance and survival of the Polynesian languages through education, and that the era of large scale publicly-funded translation into these languages is over. As if to underline this tendency, Jeffrey Waite's Aoteareo, a 1992 national language policy document, recommended that priority be given to 'English as a second language' programmes for immigrants ahead of providing funds for translation and interpreting services.

Current: community and creative

Pacific Island languages can be heard on the radio but not seen in the bookshops. Print culture in 'trade publishing' is virtually non-existent—there are no commercial publishers even on the islands themselves. For centuries, Pacific storytelling has been passed on through images, chants, song and dance. One would therefore expect to see the emergence of a truly indigenous written culture, but there are few signs that this is developing. The needs, difficulties and opportunities confronting the development of Pacific Island language resources are discussed in Robert Holding's 'O tusi i le gagana Samoa' (1991 Churchill Report). While Samoa is the primary focus, the research provides a useful model contribution to discussions on literacy and associated issues. The challenges are even bigger for the other language groups, where the populations are so much smaller.

Newspapers (usually in Samoan) have occasionally and briefly come and gone in the Auckland area but are usually versions of Samoa-based publications. It is also relevant to note that when mixed groups of Pacific Islanders communicate (in word or print) they do so in English, due to the language differences. English therefore continues to be a threat to Pacific Island languages, especially in New Zealand. An example of a combined Pacific Island newspaper is the monthly Wellington-based give-away Pacific Network Newspaper (1994- ) in which advertisements and about half the content is in English, with the remaining content in various Pacific Island languages.

There is only one identified creative writing competition in New Zealand for Pacific Island languages, held annually by Manukau City Libraries, Auckland, and there are no special awards or recognition to encourage writers and publishers. Books Pasifika and Pasifika Press provide the only commercial outlet, while the occasional entrepreneur faces all the difficulties experienced by self publishers.

Sources and resources

This section describes the major local collections of Pacific Island language material and the most useful bibliographic sources relating to New Zealand's publishing history, together with a brief summary of the development of library services in the islands.

Major collections

While most libraries report their current holdings of books and serials to the New Zealand Bibliographic Network (NZBN) database, and its predecessors, this is not always the case with Pacific Island language publications. It is important for researchers to approach libraries individually with enquiries about such material as some holdings are only available as in-house listings, and many other catalogue entries are too brief to be informative. There is no comprehensive listing of national holdings of official publications.

The major local collections of Pacific Island language material produced in New Zealand and its island territories are:

  • Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand: large historical collection including religious works, ethnology, and language, also more recent educational readers, serials and newspapers
  • Auckland Public Library: strong in religious publications
  • Auckland Institute and Museum Library: Oceanic languages collection, strongest in Samoan and Cook Islands publications
  • University of Auckland Library, New Zealand and Pacific Collection: significant holdings of Pacific official publications and current materials. It compiles the South Pacific Official Publications database
  • University of Canterbury, Macmillan Brown Library: strongest in holdings of post-1970 official publications

Some public libraries have developed services specifically for Pacific Islanders—Manukau Library and Information Services has separate reference-only Polynesian collections in its branch libraries at Otara and Mangere, as does Porirua Public Library.

Bibliographies and indexes

No single bibliography covers New Zealand's print culture in Pacific Island languages, and relevant items must be sought from general listings for New Zealand or the four island territories. Many bibliographies are not annotated, so items must be examined in order to identify the language. There is a need for annotated bibliographies with comprehensive subject access and which also note the language used.

General bibliographic reference tools such as Bagnall's New Zealand National Bibliography to 1960 and its successor the annual current National Bibliography are useful starting points for Pacific Island language material, together with (for periodical articles) the Index to New Zealand Periodicals and associated electronic databases.

Significant specialist bibliographies and indexes include:

W.G. Coppell, 'A bibliography of the Cook Islands' (1971). More comprehensive than James, but the only identified copy in New Zealand is at Victoria University of Wellington

——, 'Bibliographies of the Kermadec Islands, Niue, Swains Island and the Tokelau Islands' (1975): Appendix A: 61 items in Niuean.

Hawaii Pacific Journal Index (database): indexes over fifty journals, including the Polynesian Society Journal from 1892 onwards. Available on the Internet at: http://www2.hawaii.edu/lib/

Lowell D. Holmes (ed.), Samoan Islands Bibliography (1984): American and Western Samoan works, including unpublished items; subject access but no annotations or index

H. Bond James, A Bibliography of Publications in Cook Islands Maori (1953): incomplete listing; 134 annotated entries. More readily available than Coppell

Polynesian Society, Journal (1892- ): three main indexes: Centennial Index 1892-1991: author and subject index; previous indexes, to vols.1-75 (1892-1966) and vols.76-90 (1967-81) include additional title information

H. Roth, South Pacific Government Serials (1973) notes items not in English, or bilingual. Updated by South Pacific Official Publications database at University of Auckland Library

Samoa: A National Bibliography (1996) approx 2,500 published and unpublished items, including serial articles; no subject index or annotations. Based on holdings of a number of Western Samoan libraries and organisations, it omits many items held elsewhere

C.R.H. Taylor, A Pacific Bibliography, 2nd ed. 1965: chiefly ethnographic and historical works; indigenous language items mainly grammars and dictionaries

Tokelau National Bibliography (1992): 228 items; books and unpublished typescripts published in/about Tokelau, by Tokelauan authors, or in Tokelauan, no date restriction; indexed. Also available on NZBN database with items published since 1992.

Library services and education

The 1950s and 1960s saw the beginning of public library services for residents in the island territories. By 1955 the Cook Islands had a small public library built by volunteers, supplied with a regular exchange of books by the New Zealand Country Library Service. In Apia, Western Samoa, a public lending and reference service was established in 1957 in temporary accommodation. The New Zealand government assisted with funding for a new building constructed in 1959. A library opened in Niue in 1923, with donated materials. In the 1950s the Country Library Service provided the circulating library in Niue with books, then in 1962 assisted with setting up a small public library. Tokelau has small libraries in its schools, but no public library.

The National Library of New Zealand is a member of several Pacific Island library and archives networks. It offers bibliographic support to the University of the South Pacific Library and the Cook Islands and has provided professional assistance in a conservation workshop and with collection organisation. Major bibliographical publications relating to Pacific Island countries include the Tokelau National Bibliography (1992) and Sally Edridge's Solomon Islands Bibliography (1985).

Although only one person (a Cook Islander in 1965) is known to have studied in New Zealand under the then Government Training Scheme, the National Library has hosted some Pacific Islanders in training placements over the last decade.

black and white reprint

Pukapukan is a distinct language spoken on the Northern Cook Islands atoll of Pukapuka (1996 population 780) where Johnny Frisbie Hebenstreit, the author of this story ('A Quiet Night'), was born. Up to 2,000 Pukapukans are estimated to live in New Zealand, mainly in Auckland. After Learning Media had published the story in six other Pacific Island languages, the specialist Pukapukan publisher Mataaliki Press in Auckland produced this version Pō Lāwie in the author's mother tongue in 1992. Reproduced with the permission of the Ministry of Education, Wellington (illustration), and Mataaliki Press (text).