Rare bible returns to Rarotonga

Friday March 21, 2014 Written by Published in Culture
Cook Islands Library and Museum Society president Gerald McCormack (centre) along with manager/curator Jean Mason accept the donated Cook Islands Maori bible from Ron Liddicoat who delivered it to the local library on behalf of owner William Tailby.  14032016 Cook Islands Library and Museum Society president Gerald McCormack (centre) along with manager/curator Jean Mason accept the donated Cook Islands Maori bible from Ron Liddicoat who delivered it to the local library on behalf of owner William Tailby. 14032016

At 159 years old, a rare Cook Islands Maori bible is still in fine condition. 'Tuatua Tapu' has been donated to the Cook Islands Library and Museum Society and will be on permanent display in the museum.

The rare bible, published in 1855, has been donated by William Tailby – the current principal of Kaitaia College – along with three other historic books.

The book donations were brought to Rarotonga and presented to the local library and museum by Kaitaia College board chairman Ron Liddicoat on behalf of Tailby.

Liddicoat says that while admiring the bible in Tailby’s book collection, he learned that the bible was published in Cook Islands Maori and that Tailby was the grandson of William Tailby who served in the Cooks in the 1940s as resident commissioner.

Inside the bible is an inscription written in 1856, when the bible was hot off the press, and gifted by Reverend William Gill.

However, the library and museum staff are yet to conduct deeper research into the inscription as there were two William Gills that lived in the Cook Islands in the 1800.

The first was Reverend William Gill who arrived in the Cooks in 1839 and lived in the islands for 30 years and wrote the book “Gems of the Coral Islands”.

The other is William Wyatt Gill, who lived on the island of Mangaia for 20 years from 1852 and wrote several important studies.

Cook Islands Library and Museum Society president Gerald McCormack says he is extremely surprised to find a bible from its era still in existence and in such good condition.

Cook Islands Library and Museum Society manager/curator Jean Mason says the bible will go on permanent display in a glass case in the museum where anyone interested can view it. 

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