Rapa Nui bible Tongariki

Bible translation to native rapa nui language published

The immensely big project of translating the whole New Testament into native rapa nui language has today finally been finished. The protagonists behind it all are the married American couple Robert and Nancy Weber, who have been dedicating the majority of their lives to this amazing contribution to the rapa nui culture.

Robert and Nancy Weber
Nancy and Robert Weber

41 years ago the Americal linguists arrived to the tiny Pacific island called Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island. Their goal from the beginning was to translate the New Testament into rapa nui language. Since no proper ortography existed for the language, this was their first challenge. They created the modern standard for how to write the language; which letters to use and how to spell the words.
Not long after having arrived in the 1970’s, they also created school books for learning the rapa nui language.

Robert and Nancy Weber dubbing a movie to rapa nui language.
The Webers helping out with dubbing the movie Lucas to rapa nui language.

After a few years, they created a team of some of the brightest people of the rapa nui community together, taught them about linguistics theory and started working with an admirable dedication, translating the New Testament during more than two decades. When the translation was finished, they spent years back-translating the scriptures from rapa nui back to English, then comparing their whole work with the original, to make sure the message was unaltered.


With today’s publication of the New Testament in rapa nui language, they have now completed what they came for and will in a couple of weeks go back to their home country.

On a personal note, I the author would like to thank Nancy and Robert Weber for their historic contribution to this culture and its language, and wish all luck, happiness and well-being to these amazing two people whom I am proud to call friends.

Marcus Edensky

Marcus is owner of local Rapa Nui travel agency Easter Island Travel. He is one of the few foreigners that has learnt to speak Rapa Nui fluently. He is founder of local Easter Island newspaper Tāpura Re'o - the only newspaper written entirely in Rapa Nui language.

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