A wonderful letter from Titore

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Thursday 23 December 2010
Ron Brownson

In 1818, two young Māori men, Titore (Nga Puhi, 1795?-1837) and Tui (Nga Puhi, 1797?-1824), visited Professor Samuel Lee of Cambridge University. They assisted him in the preparation of a grammar and vocabulary of Māori.

On 28 October 1818, he wrote to May Ann Ferriday at Madely.

This may be one of the earliest letters written by a Māori in English.

My Dear Girl Mary Ann
I hope you very well, I very well myself. I very sorry that time I come away and leave kind friends behind. I hope you remember me I remember you. Please give my love to Mary Ann Patrick, and your father and mothers and brother and sister. I hope you pray for me, I pray for you. I pray Jesus Christ our Saviour to teach me to read God’s book. I give you small bit of my hair: you very kind girl. I hope you no broke the swing. When I get home my country, I send you a New Zealand mat, please the Lord. Very kind people up the country, I no like London, I like Madely, plenty of room to walk about. We go by the “Baring” but no yet. I send you bit of New Zealand twine and flax, you never seen one before. Mr Hall took me to see the Tower; I see plenty guns, thousands. I see lion and tiger, and cockatoo; I talk to cockatoo he know me very well. I see Elephant quite astonished my countryman no believe if I tell him. Mr Hall sends kind regards to you and your Father and Mother and all your family and friends. God bless you.
Teeterree [Titore]
P.S. I hope you write me a few lines

Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand/Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa.
MS-Papers -0288. Tuai, 1797?-1824. Correspondence, 1818-1819.