The first book about the Māori language was ‘written’ by Anglican missionary Thomas Kendall in 1815. It was the first printed attempt at full sentences and phrases in the Maori language and a publication to which Ngare Raumati chief, Tuai made a considerable contribution.
Kendall, T. A Korao [kōrero] no New Zealand; or the New Zealander’s first book; being an attempt to compose some lessons for the instruction of the natives. Sydney, Australia: G. Howe, 1815.
The first book printed in Te Reo Māori was published in 1815, A Korao no New Zealand was ‘written’ by Church Missionary Society (CMS) missionary Thomas Kendall but drew almost entirely on the knowledge of the young Ngare Raumati chief, Tuai from the Bay of Islands. Thomas Kendall was sent by Samuel Marsden, Chaplain at Parramatta, to be the school teacher at New Zealand’s first mission established in 1814 at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands under the patronage of chiefs Ruatara of Te Hikutu and Hongi Hika of Ngai Tawake. Kendall started the school at Rangihoua in 1816, opening with a roll of 33 but closed at the end of 1818 owing to a lack of supplies and trade and an increased dis-interest by Māori. During this time however, Kendall got to know the young chief, Tuai and learned to speak and write in Māori, eventually writing A korao no New Zealand in 1815. Two hundred copies were printed in Sydney and only one copy of this publication is known to survive. The sole surviving copy is held at Auckland War Memorial Museum and listed as an item of documentary importance on the UNESCO Memory of the World register. Although authored by Thomas Kendall, this publication is one of two to be included in the list of 150 Maori authored books, where the Maori name does not appear on the publication. In the creation of A Korao, Kendall drew on the significant influence, thinking and knowledge of the young northern chief, Tuai.
This publication is part of the series Te Takarangi: Celebrating Māori publications - a sample list of 150 non-fiction books produced by a partnership between Royal Society Te Apārangi and Ngā Pae o te Māramatanga.