South Pacific: New Caledonia Bibles


Bible Society in the South Pacific is co-ordinating this project to see the translation of the Old Testament in Ajie, the New Testament in Nelemwa, and the digitisation of existing Bible translations among three other languages spoken in New Caledonia, to reach more speakers of each language with God’s word.

In meeting with church leaders and community elders, a great need for Bible translation among the people and languages of New Caledonia has been made known. The people are mainly Christians and are very supportive of the Christian message. There is a great demand for printing Scriptures to benefit those living in the rural and outskirts of the main towns.

In addition to this, the population of New Caledonia is young, with 48% of the population 24 years old and younger. These young people speak both their common national languages and their indigenous languages and, since a good number of young people are tech savvy, there is a great need for the production of the Bible as an electronic text.

The ongoing work of digitising and reviewing the Bibles that were first translated by the early missionaries and translating/adapting the Scriptures into contemporary languages is crucial in meeting the needs of the young population.

More specifically, there are needs in five language groups for Bible translation. In the Ajie language (spoken by 4,000 – 5,000 people) the draft translation of the Old Testament has been completed and needs finalising, which will complete a full Bible. In the Nelemwa language (spoken by 1,000), a draft translation of the New Testament has been completed in the major dialect of the community in 2021 and needs to be finalised.

In the Drehu language (spoken by 12,000 people), the Iaai language (the sixth-most-spoken language of New Caledonia, with 4,078 speakers), and the Nengone language (spoken by 8,000) there is a need for proofreading and checking of the scanned digital Bible texts, after which the Bibles can be published electronically.


  • 285,498 people live in New Caledonia (2020, UN data)
  • 48% of the population are 24 years old and younger
  • 96.94% of adult population (aged 15 years and above) in New Caledonia are literate
  • The overall youth literacy rate is 99.69%.

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