World's most well-known autobiography translated into te reo Māori

By Tema Hemi

Anne Frank's famous World War II diary has been translated into te reo Māori.  Renowned te reo Māori translator Te Haumihiata Mason completed the 73rd translation of  "Diary of a Young Girl", which details the harrowing life of Frank, in hiding with her Jewish family from the Nazi regime.

Mason said she now has a deeper understanding of the great injustices that come with racism, hatred and anti-semitism.

It's an understanding that must be embraced by our rangatahi, she says.

Mason says, "The focus of the story is at a time when the Jewish people were being discriminated against by the Germans.  I had never experienced that level of discrimination within my own family because we were not allowed to speak Māori [for instance], what i experienced was very little in comparison to what I've read."

Whilst the Anne Frank exhibition was in Parihaka, an audience member asked the exhibition chairman, Boyd Klap, if the book had been translated into Māori.

Klap says, "As a result of me being in Parihaka I got some people together and said 'we need to do this' and we did.  I think Anne Frank, if she was alive, she would love it."

Mason, a former lecturer at Waikato University, has translated anything and everything from government department texts to private enterprise translations.  

"First was to fully understand her thoughts, secondly for my translations to not be stronger than her text and that was a significant for me- and to grasp the true essence of what she says, it wasn't always an easy task."  

Mason hopes many rangatahi will learn about discrimination and gain an understanding of the short but impactful life that Frank lived. 

"The whole focus of these translations was our youth, I hope that they do read it, I hope it transports them back in time so that they may get a sense of who the girl was so they may understand the sadness that the Jewish people had to endure."

Mason believes Anne Frank shall remain forever young but her words- in whatever language it may be- will live in on.