Māori scholar translates "Alice in Wonderland" into Te Reo Māori

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

The children's book "Alice in Wonderland,” written by Lewis Carroll has been translated into Te Reo Māori by a Māori scholar, Tom Roa in honour of its 150th anniversary.

Mr Roa said, “I read it to my grandson, he was about seven years old at the time. He just burst into laughter and said "Koro, that's crazy, she sounds crazy."

Written in 1865 by English author Lewis Carroll, the book has seen many adaptations and has even hit the big screen. But the story remains the same.

Waikato University students Aurere Thatcher and Kahuripene Kawe remember reading Alice in Wonderland as a child.

“I remember when I was younger, I read this book all the time. Now it's in Māori, awesome,” said Kawe.

The book took a total of five years for Tom Roa to complete while he was teaching at Waikato University. Tom says there were many challenges.

“For example "much of a muchness". It's the use of alliteration, but how do I translate that into Māori?  There are no proverbs like that in Māori,” says Mr Roa.

Tom is heading to New York tonight for the Alice 150 conference where translators from around the world will bring their version of Alice in Wonderland.