The Bible Society has launched Tāku Paipera, the only Māori children’s Bible available in New Zealand.

Kaumatua Matt Hakiaha was particularly impressed with the use of colour in the Bible, the clear layout, short sentences, paraphrasing and macrons.

“The first thing I thought when I saw the Bible was how vibrant and colourful the pictures were and how this made it easy to read and contemporary.”

Mr Hakiaha, a kaumatua and on Laidlaw College’s Māori Advisory Council said, “Tāku Paipera is done in a language that belongs to us, it’s a language that reveals our identity and it’s a language that is the heartbeat of our culture.”

“For Māori children, it’s their language put to print, the stories of the Bible from thousands of years are now conveyed in their sacred language. It will help build their self-esteem and pride.

“This Bible will lead to the preservation of Te Reo and the continuity of Te Reo and also the use and continuance of a traditional language to a modern language.”

“I’ve personally wanted this for 30 years, because growing up as a child in a Christian home, there was only an adult Bible.”

Following a powhiri by students at Middle School West Auckland’s Bilingual Unit, and an unveiling, the Bibles were gifted to the 25 students.

Mr Hakiaha, who spoke at the proceedings, described Tāku Paipera as a “wonderful present”.

Alex Hawea, community and whanua support manager at the school said, “Tāku Paipera is brilliant.” A dad to three children aged 9,7, and 2, he said, “It will be a lot easier to read these Bible stories to my kids without having to translate them back into Māori.”

As part of the formal Māori welcome, Mr Hakiaha read one of his favourite Bible stories, the feeding of the 5000, with smoked fish and bread specially brought in for the students.

“No matter what race or nationality you are, food is important to every culture. To Jesus food is important, there are no barriers with food. It was important to Jesus to see people were fed.”

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