Pushkin masterpiece translated into te reo

UC’s Māori Research Laboratory director Professor Angus Macfarlane and his team recently translated a love poem by Alexander Pushkin into te reo Māori as part of a new publication. In this blog, he shares how this project came about.


We were recently approached by Anna Filippochkina from the Russian Cultural Centre Trust who was looking for a translator for a project initiated by Boris Yegorov, director of the Arkangelsk Literature Museum in Russia.

The project was a publication which translated one of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s most famous masterpieces, A Wondrous Moment I remember, into 210 languages including Māori.

We were delighted and honoured to be part of the project, as we pride ourselves on the provision we make for the stewardship of the language and on our international connections.

Te Hurinui Clarke from the College of Education used his expertise on the challenging task. “The main difficulty was much of the meaning in the poem was implicit in the language rather than explicit,” said Mr Clarke. “Once I was able to get my head around what the poem was alluding to, the translation process became a lot easier.

“One of the great things about te reo Māori is that metaphor and personification were a normal part of its usage. Another interesting thing for me is that you could give that poem to five different people to translate and they would come up with five different ways of translating it.”

Mr Clarke is affiliated to Rotorua’s Tuhourangi/Ngati Wahiao. The translation was passed to the tribal authority on language, the late Mauriora Kingi to check for accuracy and concept.

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Caption: From left, Te Hurinui Clarke, with Professor Angus Macfarlane, Russian Cultural Centre Trust convenor Anna Filippochkina and Viktor Filippochkin.

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