Hamilton mayoral candidate James Casson's Te Reo gets lost in translation

  • 20/09/2016
(James Casson / Facebook)
(James Casson / Facebook)

Hamilton mayoral hopeful James Casson has apologised after an effort to include Te Reo in his candidate profile resulted in a nonsensical Māori translation.

The former policeman included a Māori version of his profile in the candidates' brochure posted to voters, but the language appears to have been directly interpreted using Google translate, creating an incomprehensible string of words.

Hamilton mayoral candidate James Casson's Te Reo gets lost in translation

Producer for TV3's The Hui Annabelle Lee provided a direct English translation of the Māori words:

Work James 26 years inside New Zealand Police, before officer Charge of Northland, Hamilton community Police centre Flagstaff.

Work overseas like a peace keeper in Bougainville, Papua new Guinea, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Timor to the United Nations.

Return the good community, work the people work to safe. James worked for Police to build safe Hamilton for you.

Straight ahead [the text then seems to be another Pacific language]. faitotonu mo e angatonu aia takitahi. KORE ki Mita Water, paying Rate for dinner Council/feast for councillors using a free Corporate Box at Stadium Waikato or by councillors.

Free waka on some of the adds being used of Auckland.

Working towards finishing vagrants in Auckland.

Resources HCC maintenence, paddlers trying to hold into a beautiful looking Hamilton.

On Facebook Mr Casson confirmed the translation was wrong, and said he had apologised to his Māori friends.

"It is also wrong that a woman in my office translated it for me," he said. "Maori translate was used and it came out wrong."

He also posted a link to an article about famous translation mistakes in history, which includes Te Tiriti O Waitangi.

He said he had no intention to insult, but was trying to be inclusive.

Annabelle Lee says there are lots of factors that come into play when translating Te Reo Māori: "Tribal and regional dialects, formal speech versus informal vernacular, place, audience et cetera. These all affect how something is translated in order to authentically capture the meaning and spirit of text.

"For these reasons Google Translate is not able to provide accurate translations of complex text like a bio because there is no way of including those nuances."

She says as with most languages, Google Translate is meant for basic phrases like 'how are you?' or 'where are you from?' - not for longer scripts.

"I'm sure James meant well and it is encouraging to see a candidate making an effort to use Te Reo Māori - it is vital to do so correctly so as to maintain your credibility in the eyes of those you wish to communicate with."

Ms Lee says if you want to have something translated into Te Reo Māori you can contact the Māori Language Commission Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo, or visit their website where you can find a National Translators Register or practitioners who provide translating services.


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