Hēmi Kelly on “Translations”

Tuesday 4 October 2022, 7:30 – 8:30pm NZDT, 5:50 – 6:30pm AEDT, Online
Hēmi Kelly on his new translation of Brian Friel’s play “Translations” to Te Reo Māori

“Te Upoko Tuatahi: I tētahi ahiahi i te pito Ākuhata, i te tau 1833.
Gníomh 1: Tráthnóna ag deireadh mhí Lúnasa sa bhliain 1833.
Act 1: An afternoon in late August 1833.”

Conradh na Gaeilge Aotearoa is delighted to welcome Hēmi Kelly to discuss his new translation of Brian Friel’s famous play “Translations”, and to explore what both it and his work on the translation can teach us about questions that are as real today as in 1833 when the play is set. What importance do languages have to us and our self-identity? How should indigenous tongues interact with new colonial languages?

From penguin.co.nz: “Hēmi Kelly is of Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa descent. He started learning te reo Maori as a young teenager and naturally progressed into teaching roles after study. Hēmi is a full-time lecturer in te reo Maori at the Auckland University of Technology. His academic research and writing focus largely on the revitalsation of the Maori language and translation studies.

Hēmi is a licensed translator and graduate of Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo (The Institute of Excellence in the Maori Language). In 2017, Hēmi translated Witi Ihimaera’s novella in Sleeps Standing and published his first book A Maori Word a Day in 2018. In 2019, Hēmi published his first creative writing piece in English in Purakau, a collection of Maori myths retold by Maori writers.”

In his introduction to Ngā Whakamāoritanga, Hēmi describes his personal connection to the project and the story though his grandparents — his maternal grandmother, Caroline Emery of Ngāti Maniapoto who came from a small pā called Te Kōpua in Te Nehenehenui (the King Country) and his paternal grandfather, Kevin Kelly, who came from Tagoat in County Wexford. As he says: “My two grandparents grew up worlds apart from each other sharing similar experiences in the colonisation of their peoples and living with the effect that had on the livelihood of their families, their ties to their ancestral lands, and their mother tongues and cultures.” 

We look forward to discussing how this is interwoven into the play and Hēmi’s translation to Te Reo Māori, and how Irish and Te Reo Māori can learn from and support each other in the face of our common colonially-introduced tongue.