Lord Howe (Luangiua)
Lord Howe (pop. 2370) is a Polynesian language in the Solomon Islands. The language is closely related to Nukumanu in Papua New Guinea; there is frequent contact and people can understand each other easily. The language is also closely related to the Takuu and Nukuria languages, both in Papua New Guinea, and to Sikaiana in the Solomons.
Lord Howe is one of the largest atolls on earth, yet has only 12 km² of habitable land spread out over more than 120 small islands. Most of the inhabitants live on the two main islands of Luaniua in the southeast of the atoll and Pelau in the northeast. With so little land to support a growing population, a large number of people from the atoll have settled in the Lord Howe settlement in Honiara on the banks of the Mataniko River. The Lord Howe people mostly live off the land and the sea, but in recent years have switched to a money economy based on exporting sea cucumbers and trochus shells. Weather and sea conditions, however, determine the success of this enterprise. Due to over-harvesting these enterprises are sometimes shut down by the government to allow stocks to return to sustainable levels.
Bible Translation into the Lord Howe language
In 1978 Nico and Pam Daams were assigned by the SICA Translation Committee to assist the Polynesian language groups in the Solomon Islands with Bible translation, beginning with the people of Rennell and Bellona. In 1984 they relocated from Rennell to Honiara in order to also assist the Tikopian language group. In 1986 A Lord Howe man, Ezekiel Kikiolo, approached Nico if he could help him with the translation of the Bible into his language. He attended a translation workshop in Honiara the same year, and completed the Gospel of John soon after. In 1988 Ezekiel accompanied Nico to the SIL international conference in Fort Worth, Texas, and during that visit Ezekiel met David and Pam Gentry, friends of the Daams, who subsequently joined SIL and came to the Solomons in early 1990 to assist the Lord Howe translation project, when the Daams left for a home assignment in the Netherlands. The initial driver of the project, Ezekiel Kikiolo, had passed away in April 1989, and the Gentrys started with a new translation team. The New Testament was completed in 1998 and has been in good use by the churches on the island.
Of the three Polynesian atolls in Papua New Guinea, Takuu (more commonly known as Mortlock) has the highest number of language speakers (1750), but in terms of land and lagoon area it is the smallest atoll of the three. The total land area occupied by about 400 residents is less than 1 sq km. The majority of the people have moved off island, with many of them occupying good positions all over PNG.
Christianity came to Mortlock in the early 1980s, when a number of individuals became Christians while living away from the atoll; when they returned to their home island, they became the core of fellowship groups, which rapidly attracted a large number of young people, especially young women. Almost from the outset, there was a great deal of objection toward holding Christian services, and a concentrated effort was made to put a stop to Christian worship altogether. The believers suffered much persecution; the conflict came to a head in 1986, and was temporarily resolved when government officials from the province intervened. As a result, two small fellowship buildings were constructed in the village: one for the group affiliated with the United Church and one for those affiliated with the SDA church. More recently a third denomination has sprung up on the island. A resistant group of people on the island continues to hold onto their traditional, pagan beliefs and practices.
Bible Translation in the Takuu language
When Sue Andersen and her then husband Gail Pressnall arrived at Mortlock in November 1986 representing SIL, the chiefs gave them permission to translate the Scriptures into their language. They said, “We would like to know what ‘your’ God has to say, but we don’t trust any man to come and tell us. They might lie! You put the Scriptures into our language and we will read it for ourselves and then make up our own minds.”
Sue has mentored the translation team for many years through Translators Training Courses, training the translators in Bible background, exegesis and principles of translation. The two main translators of the Takuu New Testament, the Rev. Abraham Vaelani and Tom Puaria, have completed the translation of the New Testament, and it was dedicated on Mortlock in December 2010. Tom Puaria’s wife Sharon started translating Genesis soon afterwards, and in November 2011 she completed the first of a series of training courses for beginning Bible translators. Her husband Tom is assisting her as translation advisor, with Paulus Kieviet serving as translation consultant.
Nukumanu (pop. 730) is a Polynesian language in Papua New Guinea. The language is closely related to Luangiua in the Solomon Islands; there is frequent contact and people can understand each other easily. The language is also closely related to the Takuu and Nukuria languages, both in Papua New Guinea. There are no grammars or dictionaries printed in the Nukumanu language.
Nukumanu is an atoll and has only 1.8 square miles of habitable land surrounding a 138 square mile lagoon. Even at the highest points, elevation is barely more than 6 feet above sea level. With so little land to support a growing population, many young people go away to high school on the mainland where they find jobs to support their family back on the atoll. The people of Nukumanu have set up an export business for sea cucumbers and trochus shells and the men dive to harvest these. Weather and sea conditions, however, determine the success of this enterprise. Due to over-harvesting these enterprises are sometime shut down by the government to allow stocks to return to sustainable levels. Lack of transportation from the atoll makes the marketing of any goods very difficult.
Bible Translation in the Nukumanu language
In the 1980s, young adults who had gone away to school returned with the good news of Jesus Christ. At first they were persecuted, but now three church groups have been established. Almost everyone on the atoll attends church. Yet, many still question this new faith. As one elder put it, “We would like to know what your God has to say, but we don’t trust any man to tell us; he might lie. We want to read it for ourselves in our own language.”
Sue Andersen, an SIL literacy consultant, mentored the translation team for many years through Translators Training Courses, including Bible background, exegesis and principles of translation. Two translators completed the translation of the New Testament, with Edmond Teppuri as main translator (read the story of how Edmond got involved here). They were assisted by Isles of the Sea translation consultant Nico Daams. In February 2014, the New Testament was dedicated.
Niuafo’ou (pop. 680) is an active volcano, and is home to the Niuafo’ou people. Prior to the last eruption of the volcano, the people were evacuated to ‘Eua, where they lived for a number of decades. Their original language was closer to Samoan than to Tongan, but much of the old language has died out during their stay on ‘Eua. Now a good number of Niuafo’ouans have re-settled on their home island, and a new hybrid language exists that appears to be viable on the home island and in the ‘Eua settlement.
Bible Translation in the Niuafo’ou language
In 2005 Nico and Pam Daams visited Tonga, and made first contact with several Niuafo’ou people. There seemed to be some genuine interest in Bible translation, and during subsequent visits this was confirmed. It was decided to adapt the Tonga translation known as the Moulton translation into the Niuafo’ou language to give a sense of continuity with the Scriptures the people are now most familiar with, while adapting it to their particular way of speaking.
Early 2017, the first draft of the translation of the New Testament was completed – a major milestone in this project.
The team then continued and checked each other’s books. Consultant Paulus Kieviet worked with Sitiveni Tu’ilautala as lead translator; together, they checked the New Testament verse by verse. In 2019, a trial edition of the Four Gospels was printed as a limited edition. This was distributed to reviewers for feedback. In the mean time, Paulus and Sitiveni continued to work on the remaining books.
In 2022, this process was finished. Sitiveni performed a final read-through of the complete translation; the text was checked for consistency, and later in 2022 it was typeset and sent to the printer in Japan.
The Niuafo’ou translation team. Back: Penisimani Mone, Vili Naupoto, Folauhola Taukafa. Front: Liuaki Fusitu’a, Hengihengi Fusitu’a. (Not in picture: Sitiveni Tu’ilautala.)
Nukuria (pop. 500) is a Polynesian language in Papua New Guinea. The language is closely related to the language of Takuu, but also has many links to Kapingamarangi in the Federated States of Micronesia. There are no dictionaries or grammars published in the Nukuria language.
Bible Translation in the Nukuria language
In August 2010 Isles of the Sea coordinator Nico Daams and Takuu translator Tom Puaria met with a group of Nukuria men and women to discuss the translation of the Bible into their language. Tom explained the process and what is involved. We made it clear that the responsibility for this project will be theirs, but that we will offer our services as advisors free of charge. Because the language is closely related to the Takuu language, Tom will be their translation advisor, and help the project along with the expertise he has gained as one of the two translators of the Takuu New Testament. Nico will be mentoring Tom and assisting the Nukuria project. Currently the Nukuria community is in the process of setting up a translation committee and beginning a fund raising drive to support their translation project.
Rennell and Bellona (pop. 4,500) is a Polynesian language in the Solomon Islands. The islands are uplifted coral atolls with fertile soil in the inland part of the islands, especially in Bellona where the soil contains phosphate, while the fertile soil on Rennell is mostly found in pockets which contain bauxite. Unlike most island dwellers in the Solomon Islands, the people of Rennell and Bellona live in the centre of their islands, rather than along the coast, which is very rocky.
Bible Translation into the language of Rennell & Bellona
In 1978 Nico and Pam Daams were assigned by the SICA Translation Committee to assist the Polynesian language groups in the Solomon Islands with Bible translation, beginning with the people of Rennell and Bellona. This was at the request of representatives from these two islands. Nico and Pam lived on the island from 1978 until 1984, when they moved to Honiara in order to also assist the Tikopian language group. The Rennellese New Testament was published in 1994. In 2011, David and Ribeka Tago started to work on the Old Testament.
Sikaiana (pop. 750) is a Polynesian language in the Solomon Islands. The language is closely related to Takuu in PNG, and a little less closely to the Ontong Java and Nukumanu languages in the Solomons and in PNG respectively. The population mostly belong to the Church of Melanesia. After a devastating cyclone in the 1980s it looked for a while that the island would no longer be able to sustain a viable community, but in recent years schools have been rebuilt, and there is renewed interest in the survival of the culture and language. A dictionary by Bill Donner exists.
Bible Translation into the Sikaiana language
For many years it was thought that the language of Sikaiana was no longer viable, and that translating the Bible into this language was not necessary, since the majority of the people are living in Honiara where many of them use English or Pijin as the language in the home and at work. In 2005 Nico Daams was approached by the COM priest Father Henry Tupo with the request to assist the Sikaiana people to translate the Bible into their language. Fr. Henry then tried to find the right people to be involved in this project, but without success. In December 2011, however, Fr. Henry decided to take retirement and start translation work himself.
Tikopia is a Polynesian language in the Solomon Islands. The island (pop. 3,500) is known in the Solomons for its strong chiefly system. On the island only the Church of Melanesia has churches. Tikopians have also settled in a number of colonies on other islands in the Solomons, especially on Makira, Russell and Vanikolo.
Bible Translation into the Tikopia language
In 1984 some Tikopians attended a Bible translation workshop organised by the Bible Society. When it appeared that no ongoing work had resulted from this effort, Nico and Pam Daams, who were already working in the Solomon Islands with another Polynesian language group, contacted the COM bishop of the Temotu Diocese to see if they could assist with this project. The bishop appointed two translators, and these began to translate under the supervision of Nico Daams. After some weeks, only one translator continued, and in about 6 years he completed most of the Tikopian New Testament in first draft. Despite a number of efforts to get feedback from the general population, this failed, and in 1990 the project was put on hold. All the translated materials were available in small numbers to the various Tikopian communities.
In 2005 Nico and Pam received an email from the Tikopian ACOM priests on Tikopia to please come and help them complete the NT. Nico made two trips out to Tikopia, and two review committees were set up on Tikopia, and also a translation committee to be in charge of translating the remaining books. In 2013 the Anglican bishop of the Temotu Diocese has appointed Fr Walter Tamasia, a young Tikopian priest, to be the translation coordinator for the Tikopia project.
In the Temotu Province of the Solomon Islands, a Polynesian language is spoken by the populations of a number of small islands in the Reef Islands, as well as on Taumako Island. The number of speakers is about 1,675. The language is also referred to as the Vaiakau language and a small lectionary has recently been produced by Dr Even Hovdhaugen.
Bible Translation into the language of Pileni and Taumako
In 2008 Nico Daams visited Taumako Island and discussed a possible Bible translation project with the then MP. During the same trip he visited the Diocesan headquarters of the Church of Melanesia and had a lengthy meeting with representatives from the three dialect groups. There was a good deal of interest, and it was made clear to them that this was to be a community project.
There has been little movement since 2008, with the exception of one email asking why the people would not be paid to do this project. A follow-up visit is needed, but also a team to allocate in the Temotu Province to promote and supervise the work more closely.
Mangarevan is spoken on the Gambier islands in the south-east of French Polynesia. Most of the population is Roman-Catholic. In 1908, a translation of the Gospels into Mangarevan was published. Father Auguste Uebe-Carlson, who heads up the Mangarevan language association, is open to the idea of revising and republishing this translation. To this end, the text was digitized and translation advisor Paulus Kieviet proposed a spelling revision. The project awaits further initiative from the language association.