'Priceless' book used in Cooks a century ago

TIM DONOGHUE
Last updated 05:00 29/10/2014
The Pilgrim’s Progress
MAARTEN HOLL/ Fairfax NZ

REMARKABLE PROGRESS: Tengaepu o te Rangi Tararo with his Cook Islands version of The Pilgrim’s Progress, published in 1892 and restored by Akatarawa bookbinder Bill Tito.

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It cost just $10 on Trade Me, but to Tengaepu o te Rangi Tararo it's a book worth much more than that.

It's a version of John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress written in Cook Islands Maori and published in England in 1892 for use in Sunday schools and religious classes.

"It's priceless. It's part of our history. I'm delighted by it," he said, after daughter Dorothy Hosking presented it to him.

She had found it on the auction website.

Hosking had it restored by Akatarawa bookbinder Bill Tito, who also said the book was remarkable.

"It's the first time I've seen anything like this in the Cook Islands language. It's nice to be able to restore a book like this. There's a real good feel factor about it."

Te Tere o te Tuitarere was published by the Religious Tract Society, in conjunction with the London Missionary Society, for distribution throughout the Cook Islands.

The Pilgrim's Progress was first published in 1678, and was begun while Bunyan was in jail for breaches of religious law. It has been translated into more than 200 languages.

Tararo, of Ascot Park, Porirua, was born on the island of Mauke in the Cook Islands in 1931. He said that as a Presbyterian, he did not get to spend too much time at Sunday school in his youth.

"I only had three years at school. I was not well in my younger days. We had no doctors on Mauke and a lot of my generation died young because of it."

When he arrived in New Zealand in 1961, he left about 1000 people living on Mauke. "There's only about 300 there now," he said.

Reading the unusual book in his own language had forced him to think about the island life he reluctantly chose to leave behind all those years ago.

He wants Hosking to make the decision about what eventually happens to the book. "She gave it to me, so I'll leave it to her to see whether it stays in the family."

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- The Dominion Post

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