by Joan Gladwyn

It’s fitting that I should be writing this during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori language week). 

In August, EdANZ members were privileged to hear Pania Tahau-Hodges talking about how to approach editing of Māori-language text in English language documents. (This is certainly something I’ve had to do over the past few years, and I’ve been aware of my limitations.) Pania is the Educational Publishing Manager at Huia Publishing, renowned for its range of books that tell the stories of New Zealanders — Pākehā, Māori and Pacific alike. 

Pania’s advice can be summed up by her “Know your wheelhouse” statement. Editors should approach any change by asking permission to alter it, and if it’s outside our skills and knowledge, we need to have the courage to pass it on to another editor. To achieve that, editors should build up a network of support, where we can ask questions and gain advice. Our role is to support Māori to tell their stories in their voices. 

Pania referred to the toitu model (“toitu” can mean undisturbed, untouched, permanent or entire). Questions to consider include: 

  • Who owns the story? 
  • Who is the audience?
  • Is this author the best person to tell it on behalf of the community? 
  • Are there other iwi or groups connected to the story who may be affected by it? 
  • Does the potential editor have the necessary skills and knowledge to work on it? 
  • Does the potential editor have the right network in place to ensure it is correct? 
  • Are the necessary processes and systems available to ensure the status, value, integrity, authenticity and quality of mātauranga Māori are protected?

With those provisions, Pania was generous with advice on frequent queries that editors have. Guidelines for Māori Language Orthography¹ is the definitive resource to check best practice for writing and spelling Māori, including the use of macrons, double vowels and capitalisation. We all learned something valuable that night, even if it was simply to know what we don’t know.

1 Te Taura Whiri I te Reo Māori, Guidelines for Māori Language Orthography. Te Taura Whiri I te Reo Māori, Māori Language Commission, 2012. 

Contact Joan Gladwyn at edanz.website@iped-editors.org.