In her short story collection Once upon a time in Aotearoa Tina Makareti explores a world where old myths become part of everyday life and encounters between reality and magic are taken for granted.
Tina Makereti lives in Wellington, and is of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngati Maniapoto, Irish, Welsh, English and possibly even Moriori and Scandinavian descent. Included in this feature is “Kaitiaki”, a short story from her collection that reveals the loneliness of old age and city life and the consolation and protection offered by the mountains. Here are the opening paragraphs in English and German. Further below is the full short story in both languages.
Interview with translator Anita Goetthans
For readers who are only starting to explore New Zealand literature, we spoke with the German translator of the story Anita Goetthans about some key elements of the collection and its translation, and about her own transition from Germany to New Zealand. Goetthans is a free-lance translator and interpreter and also teaches at the Translation and Interpreting Centre at AUT, Auckland University of Technology. She has been living in Auckland, New Zealand since 1996.
Could you tell us a bit about the story Kaitiaki, and about the way it connects to the past and present cultural landscape of New Zealand?
When I read Tina’s stories I fell in love with almost every single one of them. Although there is only one author behind these stories each of them seems to have its individual voice and idiosyncratic language depending on the narrator.
In Kaitiaki it is the kuia, an old Maori lady, who’s been disenfranchised from her rural home near the mountains for a long time, living alone and isolated in a city environment which becomes stranger and stranger to her by the day.
This is a common enough occurrence in the big cities, especially following the huge influx of rural Maori when labour was needed in the 1960s. In this decade te reo Maori was almost forgotten and frowned upon in primary and secondary schools. When the language was in danger of becoming almost extinct a huge effort was made in the 1980s to revive it, with some success.