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MAJOR MILESTONE ACHIEVED IN FIRST EVER TOKELAU BIBLE TRANSLATION
After 23 years and one month of work, head translator Ioane Teao and Bible Society Translations Director Dr Stephen Pattemore performed the final check of the final verse of the brand-new Tokelau Bible translation.
“We’re very pleased we’ve come to this part of the project! Yes, we had some fun – we celebrated with some sandwiches, a date scone and some bananas and oranges,” Ioane said.
The project, which has been a joint effort of all Tokelau churches and community groups, had its genesis nearly 30 years ago. Ioane and others consulted with the wider Tokelauan community for six years before the project could officially start. Ioane was the secretary of the team trying to get the project off the ground and support whoever would do the job. To Ioane’s surprise, it was he who would be asked to spend more than 23 years of his life working on the translation.
Celebrations in Vanuatu
In Vanuatu, Hano speakers on Pentecost Island welcomed the long-awaited New Testament in their heart language at an event held at Angoro village, on North Pentecost, on 26th October 2020, with traditional songs and dances (watch in the video below).
Translation work began four decades ago but was disrupted numerous times by cyclones, which destroyed homes, livelihoods and, on some occasions, parts of the translation work. In the wake of Cyclone Pam in 2015, the translators had to live in tents for months after their home was completely destroyed. However, the translation manuscript survived, having been placed in a plastic container and put under a table just before the cyclone hit.
During the launch, one of the translators, Fr. Francis Gilu, who is now in his eighties, was in tears when he received his copy of the New Testament. “This is a miracle. I thought the text had gone missing!” he said.
Of all the world’s Bible Societies, the Bible Society of the South Pacific (BSSP) has the world’s most logistically difficult territory to serve. Based in Fiji, it encompasses 16 Pacific Island nations. Some of these nations, such as Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, have the full Bible. But archipelagos such as Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands have hundreds of languages. While most people are multilingual, they have a deep desire for the Bible in their heart language.
Many other small languages still lack Scriptures. Bible Societies struggle to support these remote projects. Translators are voluntary and are helped with only occasional visits by busy translation consultants. Theirs is often a difficult and lonely task fitted in between tending their gardens and other village responsibilities.