Volume 12 1903 > Volume 12, No.3, September 1903 > A new Maori Dictionary, p 187-190
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OUR members will have noticed incidental reference in the public press to a new Maori Dictionary about to be undertaken. Below, is printed a copy of a circular from the Rev. H. W. Williams, M.A., who has undertaken the very heavy task of compiling the large amount of existing matter, and seeing it through the press. The Dictionary is to be published under the auspicies of this Society. The Council, on becoming aware of the large amount of MS. matter in existance, approached the Government, with a view to securing their approval and help, for it is considered an object in which the state may fairly be called on to assist in making this unpublished material available to scholars. The Government appears inclined to meet the request of the Council in a liberal spirit; so we may hope to see the new Dictionary an accomplished fact. We draw attention to the matter here with a view to asking the many Maori scholars amongst our members to render all the assistance they can in the direction indicated in Mr. William's circular.

In the fourth edition of “William's Dictionary,” and in Tregear's “Maori Comparative Dictionary” there are, roughly speaking, about fourteen thousand words and meanings given. The new matter which has been collected since the publication of those works and which will appear in the new Dictionary, will probably amount to about six thousand additional words and meanings. In addition to the collections mentioned in Mr. William's circular, help has been promised from Messrs. A. Shand, G. H. Davis, Ed. Tregear, and A. H. Turnbull, and we have no doubt other collections will be forthcoming when the object is known. It is probable therefore that the new Dictionary will be an important help to the study of the “Great Polynesian Language,” the interest in which is growing from year to year. It may be convenient to summarise here, what has been done and is doing, in connection with the Polynesian language, in rendering it available for scholars.

  • 1. The “Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary,” Ed. Tregear, 1 Vol., 675 pages. Lyon & Blair, Wellington, New Zealand, 1891.
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  • 2. A “Dictionary of the New Zealand Language,” 1 Vol., 323 pages, Right Rev. W. Williams, D.C.L.; 4th Edition by Archdeacon W. L. Williams, B.A. (now Bishop of Waiapu). Upton & Co., Auckland, 1892.
  • 3. A “Maori-English Lexicon,” Part 1, Maori-English, 132 pages (to the letter A only), Rev. W. Colenso, F.R.S., and F.L S., Wellington. Government Printer, 1898.
  • 4. A “Tahitian and English Dictionary” with Grammar, (By the Rev. Davies?), 323 pages. Tahiti, 1851.
  • 5. An “English and Tongan Vocabulary” and Grammar, 1 Vol., 253 pages, Rev. Shirly, W. Baker, M.D., D.M., LL.D., (with which is incorporated the Tongan Vocabulary by Rev. Stephen Rabone), Vavau, 1846, pp. 217. Auckland, 1807.
  • 6. A “Grammar and Dictionary of the Samoan Language” 1 Vol., page 416, Rev. Geo. Pratt; 3rd Edition by Rev. J. E. Newell, The Religious Tract Society, London, 1893.
  • 7. A “Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language” 1 Vol., 559 pages, Lorin Andrews. Thos. G. Thrum, Honolulu, 1865.
  • 8. “Dictionnaire Futunien-Français,” 1 Vol., 301 pages, Le. P. Grezel, Paris. Maisonneuve et Cie, 1878.
  • 9. “Dictionnaire Toga Français,” 1 Vol., 422 pages, Par les Missionnaires Maristes, Paris. Ch. Chadenat, 1890.
  • 10. A “Dictionary of Mangareva,” 1 Vol., 121 pages, Ed. Tregear. Published by the Governors of the New Zealand Institute. Wellington Government Printer, 1899.
  • 11. A “Paumotu Dictionary,” 1 Vol., 160 pages, Ed. Tregear. Published by the Polynesian Society, Wellington, 1895.
  • 12. “Phrase-book for the Cook Islands,” 1 Vol., 31 pages, Frances Nicholas. Wellington, Government Printer, 1893.
  • 13. “Dictionnaire Latin-Uvea,” Par le P. A. C., 1 Vol., 185 pages. Paris, Poussielgue frères, 1886.
  • 14. “Vocabulaire Océanien-Français,” (Hawaiian and Marquesan), 1 Vol., 318 pages, L'Abbe Mosblech, Paris. Jules Renouard et Cie, 1843.
  • 15. “A Short. … Hawaiian Grammar,” 1 Vol., 59 pages, Prof. W. D. Alexander, Honolulu, 1891.
  • 16. “Te Akataka Reo Rarotonga,” Rarotonga-English Grammar, 1 Vol., 78 pages, Rev. A. Buzacott, Rarotonga 1854.
  • 17. “Dictionnaire Samoan-Français,” (of which we have no further particulars).
  • 18. “Vocabulary of the Language of Niuē,” 14 pages, Harold Williams, Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. II., pages 17 and 65.
  • 19. “Vocabulary Tongareva Dialect,” 4 pages, S. Percy Smith, Transactions New Zealand Institute, Vol. XX., 1889.
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  • 20. “Vocabulary Nukuoro Dialect,” F. W. Christian, Journal Polynesian Society, Vol. VII., page 224.
  • 21. A short vocabulary of the dialect of Stewards' Island (Sikaiana) contained in Cheynes' “A description of the Islands of the Western Pacific,” 1852.
  • 22. “The Tonguse Grammar,” 48 pages, by Rev. Thomas West. (Published as an Appendix to “Ten Years in South Central Polynesia,” London, Jno. Nesbit & Co., 1865.)

To the above may be added the following, which, whilst not strictly dialects of the Polynesian language, are necessary to its study:—

“A Fijian-English Dictionary and Grammar,” 1 Vol., 347 pages, Rev. D. Hazlewood; 2nd Edition by Rev. Jas. Calvert, London, 1872.

“Grammar and Vocabulary … . Motu Language,” New Guinea, 1 Vol., 108 pages, Rev. W. G. Lawes, Sydney, 1885.

“A Mota Dictionary,” the Rev. R. H. Codrington and Archdeacon J. Palmer, S.P.C.K., 1896.

“Dictionary of the Efate Language,” Rev. D. Macdonald.

We may add that a Vocabulary of the Niuē dialect, comprising some 2,500 words, by Ed. Tregear and S. Percy Smith is nearly ready for publication, and that our corresponding member, W. Churchill Esq., late U. S. Consul General at Samoa is also preparing a new Samoan Dictionary. Further, a Marquesan Vocabulary is also in hand, and the materials for a Rarotonga Dictionary are accumulating.

Many Vocabularies of the New Guinea dialects will be found in the Annual Reports of the Administrator of the Government of New Guinea.

Te Rau, Gisrorne, September 10th, 1903. Dear Sir,

As you are doubtless aware, the late Mr. A. S. Atkinson, of Nelson, collected a large amount of material with the intention of assisting in the production of a new Maori Dictionary based upon the 4th Edition of William's Dictionary. This material has been placed in my hands with the request that it should be used as Mr. Aitkinson had intended. Mr. C. E. Nelson, of Whakarewarewa, and Mr. S. Percy Smith, late Surveyor-General, have also kindly placed at my disposal for incorporation in the work the large number of words, meanings, and examples which they have collected. In addition to this, the Cabinet is entrusting to me the MS. prepared by the late Mr. W. Colenso for the Dictionary which the Government at one time proposed to bring out.

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Although the bulk of the matter mentioned above has been collected for a number of years it was not available for publication at the time when Mr. E. Tregear produced his magnum opus; and in point of fact is not as yet accessible for students of the Maori language.

It is thought that with these materials in hand no time should be lost in preparing the new Edition for the press, and a systematic attempt should be made, while some of the older generation of Maoris still survive, to compile as complete a vocabulary as possible of the Maori language. It is proposed therefore to proceed at once with the work, which will be published under the auspicies of the Polynesian Society; and a strenuous effort will be made to have copy ready for the press early in the year 1907.

In order that nothing may be omitted which is now available for use, I shall be glad if you can see your way to assist me in the following ways: (a) by letting me have a list of such words and meanings as you have noted as not occurring in the existing dictionaries; (b) by obtaining information as to the local use of words and their meanings; (c) by furnishing the names and addresses of such persons, European and Maori, as would, in your opinion, be able and willing to co-operate in these ways.

If you have material available under (a) I shall be glad to supply you with as many cards as you may need for entering the words, uniform with those which are being used for the work. If you will also kindly undertake work under (b) you will receive lists from time to time of words upon which more light is wanted, so that you can consult with the most trustworthy Maoris in your neighbourhood. Any help under the heading (c) should, for obvious reasons, be given at once; and to that end I enclose extra copies of this circular, and would ask you to let me know the names of those to whom you have sent them.

I shall be glad to have an answer to this at your earliest convenience, stating in which ways you are willing to assist.

I am, Yours faithfully,
Herbert W. Williams.