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A Te Wānanga o Aotearoa librarian is taking Te Matatini Ki Te Ao (Te Matatini to the world) quite literally, and translating the final day of the kapa haka champs into Mandarin – the language spoken by about 1.2 billion people. 

Lidu Gong, who speaks fluent Mandarin, English and te reo Māori, will be providing the translations for Māori TV and says while he’s performed kapa haka before, it’s still a daunting thing to tackle. 

“To me it’s quite a challenge because I haven’t done this work before and I might not be good enough, but I’m looking forward to it and I’ll do my best,” he says. 

On Sunday, Lidu will join the Haka Translate team, who are providing translation services for people watching or listening to the kapa haka performances at Te Matatini via the official Te Matatini app. 

Lidu has been learning te reo Māori for about eight years and has immersed himself in Te Ao Māori. 

He says that journey has also reconnected him with his Chinese culture and his translations will be beneficial to people of both cultures. 

“I see the value of it because in learning te reo and learning Māori culture, I ‘rediscovered’ my own native culture, Chinese traditional culture. There are striking similarities between the two cultures and I want to convey the basic human values and the core of the culture to my iwi.” 

He expects there to be plenty of interest from the Chinese community in the coverage. 

He has been teaching te reo Māori to the Chinese community in Auckland and says they have a hunger to learn more. 

“I have been teaching a Mandarin class te reo Māori and many of them are keen and they are interested in learning te reo and Māori culture. It’s going to be a great experience for me and for the Chinese community.” 

Te Matatini Ki Te Ao is in Wellington and runs until Sunday, with Lidu providing Mandarin translation during the finals on Sunday. 
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