Author Patricia Grace cuts into her birthday cake at Wai-te-ata Press. Image credit: Meredith Paterson

A New Zealand/Italian Birthday Party

Source: Wai-te-ata Press (Victoria University of Wellington)

Translator Antonella Sarti-Evans and Patricia Grace shared insights into the translation process in conversation with Dr Sydney Shep. Sarti-Evans gave examples of Grace’s innovative use of language, such as ‘the water bangled,’ and how she approached translating such idiosyncrasies and local idioms for an Italian audience.

Dr Shep asked Grace about the lack of a glossary in the original edition for Te Reo Maori, a controversial act at the time. Grace explained that she and Sarti-Evans decided to include a glossary for the Italian audience for whom Maori is a foreign language. She did not include one for the New Zealand edition because Maori is not a foreign language in it’s own country so should not treated as such.

Former post-graduate student Mauricio López Langenbach noted that one of the main characteristics of Grace’s stories is “the use of a language which reflects the influence of te Reo Maori in rhythm and sometimes in structure. It is what postcolonial scholars have termed ‘resistance through language,’ a vehicle to pose the political stances of a marginalised group.” He then posed the question, “How relevant or necessary is this ‘resistance through language’ now?” Grace reflected on this question in relation to the initial reception of Potiki. What was considered ‘political’ in the novel by critics at the time was a representation of everyday life for Grace’s whanau. 

The stimulating conversation was, of course, followed by an amazing birthday cake made by Zany Zeus topped with curls of chocolate. There were about 30 attendees, including Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean Jennifer Windsor, and AP Sally Hill, Head of the School of Languages and Cultures, and an audience comprised of Italiophiles, book lovers and students.    

Wai-te-ata Press also hosted a 75th birthday celebration for Patricia Grace, continuing her long association with Victoria, and looks forward to continuing the tradition.

The Italian language edition of Potiki (Edizioni Joker, 2017) is available for purchase from Wai-te-ata Press for $25. It follows a long line of Aotearoa New Zealand literature in translation, including Best NZ Poems 2014 & 2015 which were published by Wai-te-ata Press.

Contact: Dr Sydney Shep