'My word shall not come back void'

Pastor Hamuera Te Punga, multilingualism, and the archive

Alice Te Punga Somerville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In 1906 a young seminary student in Springfield, Illinois, wrote a letter in Maori to a German-born pastor who had recently relocated to Australia from Taranaki, New Zealand. A year later he wrote another letter to the same pastor, this time in English, in which he admitted that he had failed German and Latin but pointing out that learning Latin in English (his second language) would have been easier; the tricky bit had been learning it in German (his third). The two 'Springfield letters' written by Hamuera Te Punga over a century ago are kept in a thin manila folder labeled 'Te Punga, H' at the LCA Archives in Adelaide alongside other letters, documents, cards and pictures. A nearby photograph album holds an image in which Hamuera is preaching in German at a 1926 Mission Festival in Tabor. Carefully wrapped in swaddling tissue and lying in a box is the Maori language Bible that he almost certainly read as a new convert in rural Taranaki.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-36
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Friends of Lutheran Archives
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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