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HIS EXCELLENCY SIR GEORGE GREY, K.C.B., F.R.S.
GOVERNOR AND HIGH COMMISSIONER OF THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE, AND LATE GOVERNOR OF NEW ZEALAND.
THOROUGH WHOSE RESEARCHES A VALUABLE COLLECTION OF MAORI SONGS, LAMENTS, AND LEGENDARY TALES,
HAS BEEN RESCUED FROM OBLIVION;
THROUGH WHOSE INSTRUMENTALITY,
THE POETRY OF THE NEW ZEALANDERS HAS ATTRACTED ATTENTION IN THE CIVILIZED WORLD;
THIS LITTLE VOLUME,
EMBODYING THE KINDLY FEELINGS AND AFFECTIONATE ASSURANCES OF THE NATIVE PEOPLE,
IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED
BY HIS EXCELLENCY'S GRATEFUL AND OBEDIENT SERVANT,
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In placing the little volume of "Maori Mementos" in the hands of the public, it is necessary to state, that the introductory remarks, and explanatory notes, are from the pen of the translator, consequently, he alone is responsible, for any errors that may be detected therein.
In reference to the Poetry, he may observe, that for the sake of variety, he has thrown some of the songs into rhyme, in doing so, however, he has endeavoured to keep before his mind, the ideas contained in the original; with what success, the Maori student must determine.
The translator feels, that more time than he can possibly bestow is required, to do justice to the Maori Poets. The various duties he has daily to discharge, necessarily prevent him from giving particular attention to the literature of the New Zealanders; and it is only by dint of perseverance, in taking advantage of a little leisure occasionally, that he has succeeded in accomplishing, the comparatively insignificant task, of publishing the present work.
Of all the Government Departments, the "Native" is the most harassing, and seldom or never can those whom the
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Native people look up to have anything like quietude, either before, or after office hours. This is especially the case with the translator; research, therefore, on his part, under existing circumstances, is impracticable. At the same time, he feels bound by a grateful sense of duty, to acknowledge his obligations to the late Native Secretary, Major Nugent, whoso uniform amiability, has tended most materially, to lessen his anxieties, and who, moreover, attended personally to much of the office work, thus further relieving the Interpreter, from the performance of services by no means pleasant.
A strictly literal rendering of the Maori is warmly advocated by many persons of standing; but this is a difficulty which no Native scholar has been able to surmount, for the simple reason, that the idiom of the New Zealand language, widely differs from the English. Those who are so favourable to literal translations, will, it is presumed, alter their opinions, when they become better acquainted with the metaphorical 1 mode of expression in use. among these singularly interesting tribes. Before they enter the labyrinth of ancient Maori, -- before they essay to climb the Parnassus of the New Zealander, --let them render literally the common words used to express the compliments of the day, --words which almost all emigrants learn immediately after landing.
"Tena ra ko koe" has undergone many changes in regard to its precise meaning, but no one appears to have hazarded a translation with the slightest pretension to laterality. "Its version," say some, "is simply 'Let the sun shine on thee,' or 'The day be thine.' "Others contend as plausibly, that"Greeting" or "Salutations to you" conveys the idea embodied in the original. Until some decision is
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come to, on this, and many similar points, let not the translator of the following pages be called in question, for using his own judgment.
To say that the translation of the Songs submitted to the scrutinizing eye of the public are free from error; --to say that these productions so creditable to the aborigines of these islands, could not be sent forth in a much more attractive form, if intrusted to other hands, --is a species of egotism, to which the translator, is happily, an utter stranger.
It is to be hoped, that the feeble efforts of the compiler, to raise a little memorial in honour of the shrewd and spirited tribes of this fair country, will be the means of inducing others to pursue a branch of study, fraught with considerable interest, the history of the New Zealander, and the various traits of his character, being as yet, but very imperfectly known.
Auckland, April 5th, 1855.