Translating Aotearoa


The Translation Service

Established in 1949, the Translation Service is a unit of the Department of Internal Affairs of New Zealand. It now has 9 staff members, works with over 450 freelance translators based all around the world and covers more than 120 different languages.

NZSTI Conference in Christchurch

Conference logo pngThe national conference of the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters (NZSTI) is being held in Christchurch on 28-29 May at the Rydges Hotel. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity for professional development or an insight into the inner workings of the New Zealand T&I industry. The conference is open to professionals, students and anyone with an interest in translation and interpreting. Continue reading “NZSTI Conference in Christchurch”

The Translation Service featured in the Department of Internal Affair's internal magazine in 1988 after the work they did for the Antartica Conference
The Translation Service featured in the Department of Internal Affair’s internal magazine in 1988 after the work they did for the Antartica Conference

Thank you for coming!

Happy International Translation Day 2015

The time has come again to celebrate International Translation Day! True to tradition, the Translation Service is holding an event tonight to mark the date. We’ve invited all our freelance translators and revisers to celebrate our profession together and say ‘thank you’ for the work they’ve done over the year.

Unfortunately, many are based outside of Wellington, and won’t be able to attend. We’ll take some photos of the event and post them here, but we hope that you will celebrate in some way! Continue reading “Happy International Translation Day 2015”

Translating Aotearoa

Quintin presented a paper at the 2015 NZSTI Conference which was held in Wellington last June. Here’s the transcript of his presentation.

Continue reading “Translating Aotearoa”

The Translation Service, we understand

You’re always a bit surprised when you go through old stuff, and The Translation Service is no exception! We came across some interesting files when we were going through our archives… Did you know that in 2000-2002, TTS ran an advertising campaign on television and radio?

Our slogan was ‘The Translation Service, We Understand’.

Meet the team!

We’ve put together a short e-learning module to introduce The Translation Service and the team to our freelance translators and welcome new ones on board. Many of you are based all around the world, which means that we haven’t been able to meet many of you in person. This module will be a virtual subsitute… until we can meet you in real life!

Click the image below and let us know what you think!

Starting page of the Welcome to The Translation Service module

My Language tells the world who I am (part 3)

This is the last instalment of Fanaura’s account of her mother tongue means to her. She is one of our longest standing Cook Island Maori translators.

The many dialects

Each island of the Cook Islands, with the exception of Atiu, Mauke and Mitiaro, as well as Manihiki and Rakahanga, have their own dialects, particularly of verbs and adjectives.  The exception of course being Pukapuka with a language totally different from the rest of us, but it is called Maori.

Map of the Cook Islands
The many islands of the Cook Islands

Here for example is the translation for the English words “speak”, “talk”, “converse”:

Rarotonga = tuatua, komakoma

Aituaki = autara, autaratara

Mangaia = koma (I think!)

Atiu, Mauke, Mitiaro = araara

Manihiki, Rakahanga = kauta

Penrhyn = akaiti (the ti has a si sound)

Pukapuka = talatala

Here is another example of a translated English sentence:

“Thank you very much indeed.”

Rarotonga = Meitaki maata ua atu ei.

Aituaki = Meitaki atupaka ua atu ei.

Mangaia = Meitaki ngao ua atu ei.

Atiu, Mauke, Mitiaro = Meitaki ranuinui ua atu ei.

Manihiki, Rakahanga = Meitaki (I’ve forgotten!) ua atu ei.

Penrhyn = Meitaki ua atu ei.

Pukapuka = Atawai wolo ye manaki (ye is pronounced with a ‘th”)

Naturally therefore, with my Mum and Dad, it was the Aitutakian dialect for us, but away from them, especially during the 5 years when my Dad was sent to Rarotonga to study at the Takamoa Theological College, it was the Rarotongan dialect for me at school, at play, when swimming with friends, at Brownies/Girl Guides, at Sunday School, and so on. So during our 5 years in Rarotonga, I spoke 2 dialects, Rarotongan and Aitutakian.

If one of the 3 of us unwittingly used a Rarotongan word, e.g. “akara” (“look”) instead of “akatau”, the other two would start laughing and mocking and teasing the now shamed person!  This went on all the time with me and my parents which made sure for me that I did not lose my Aitutakian dialect while we were in Rarotonga.

However, my father did tell me very firmly, that speaking in Aitutakian at a gathering of the people of Aituaki was fine, but at meetings of the Cook Islands people, I must speak in Rarotongan as that is the dialect that everyone understands.  Our Cook Islands Maori Bible is written in the Rarotongan dialect.

So all my life, I have used the Rarotongan dialect when needed, which includes of course doing translation work into Cook Islands Maori, otherwise, it is Aitutakian for me all the way!

Happy holiday season!

The Department of Internal Affairs wishes you a joyous festive season and a happy New Year

With the end of the year approaching fast, we’d like to take stock of yet another successful year. 2014 was a tremendous year for The Translation Service.

In addition to our usual day-to-day translations and projects, we carried out numerous high-profile projects such as the translation into Chinese of the Government Whey Inquiry report and the translations of messages and information to families affected by the Christchurch earthquakes, we launched this new blog (let us know if you have any feedback), and we developed new training and e-learning initiatives. We wouldn’t have been able to do all this without the help of our freelance translators and revisers!

The Translation Service team wishes you a very happy holiday season and a restful break. See you all in 2015!

Blog at

Up ↑