Translator: MP's message was clear

By Kate Shuttleworth

Marie Krarup, a member of the Danish People's Party. Photo / Supplied
Marie Krarup, a member of the Danish People's Party. Photo / Supplied

A Danish translator says she stands by her translation of a Danish far-right politician's column which described a powhiri as "grotesque".

Marie Krarup, a member of the Danish People's Party, was in New Zealand last month as part of a defence delegation, and was welcomed into the navy's Te Taua Moana Marae.

She allegedly wrote in a blog in the Berlingske Tidende, a Copenhagen newspaper, that the powhiri was "less than civilised".

Ms Krarup told TVNZ's Breakfast yesterday her comments in the blog were incorrectly translated.

"I spoke to a New Zealand journalist this morning who speaks both English and Danish and he told me that the reason why people have been so offended is because it has not been correctly translated."

Inger Mortensen, who lives in New Zealand, translated the opinion piece.

She said yesterday she took pride in her translations being accurate.

Full text: Read Marie Krarup's translated column

Ms Mortensen said she was commissioned to work on translation through an agency and through the Danish Society Committee.

She wanted to know who the journalist was that Ms Krarup spoke to and had retranslated her opinion piece. "Which parts did they think were not translated correctly?

"Being Danish and fluent in Danish, it was obvious to me that her blog was highly offensive in Danish and therefore would, of course, also end up being so when translated to English," Ms Mortensen said.

"Every Danish person I have had contact with who has read Krarup's original piece agrees."

Ms Krarup said yesterday that she was sorry New Zealanders had been offended by her comments.

"The first English versions were very offending and I'm sorry about that, but I did not do the translations," she told TVNZ.

Ms Krarup confirmed she had received a briefing about the nature of the powhiri before the ceremony.

She said it was her duty to her voters to write about her experiences in New Zealand. Despite her apology, she still described her experience of the powhiri by using derogatory terms. "If you compare it to Western civilisation, dancing and screaming like the Maori culture dance is kind of grotesque."

When asked why she had apologised and then continued to describe the powhiri as "grotesque", Ms Krarup said: "To me it looked grotesque. It looked very strange with a man who was half-naked and in a grass skirt and who put his tongue out and was screaming. That is strange."

She would not be offended if a New Zealander called a Danish custom grotesque. "If a Maori person visited Denmark I am sure he, or she, would find it completely grotesque."


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