The 2015 NZSTI Conference weekend kicked off with a well-attended guided tour of Parliament on Friday 26 June. The group was taken through the Beehive and into the simultaneous interpreting studio where they got to meet Wiremu, the current Parliamentary Māori interpreter. The pre-conference programme also included a welcome function at the newly refurbished Dominion Museum which houses the Great War Exhibition designed by Sir Peter Jackson. Guests were treated with guided tours of the exhibition – including one led by Lieutenant General Rhys Jones CNZM who also hosted the function. The very successful welcome drinks were sponsored by NZTC International who celebrate their 30th anniversary this year.

On the following morning, keynote speaker Stuart Prior officially opened the 2015 Conference with a highly stimulating speech celebrating the importance of professional translators and interpreters in international relationships, in particular their role in preventing conflictual situations. Drawing upon his international experience as a former diplomat and ambassador to Russia, he regretted that many in New Zealand, including at the highest levels of our diplomatic corps, didn’t see translation and interpreting services as an investment but more as a cost, and urged conference attendees to be explicit about the risks of not hiring the services of professional translators and interpreters.

Stuart’s speech struck a cord with those present in the room, and set the pace for the rest of the conference. With three specific streams of presentations – translation, interpreting and professional development (click here for the programme) – attendees were given the difficult task of choosing which presentations to attend. Many later commented, myself included, that they would have liked to attend all of them. It’s probably a good situation to be in when attending – or organising – a conference.

Photo of attendees on the steps of the National Library
2015 NZSTI Conference was a resounding success

The rich programme offered presentations on a wide range of topics, including conflict around rates, translation and interpreting at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a more metaphysical approach to the linguistic conflict and resolution in translation, TV crimes series, the evolving translation publishing industry etc. Olga, one of our freelance translators who was at the conference, later told me that she ‘loved the diversity of nuances that the main topic of “Conflict and Communication” opened up for us’.

I couldn’t agree more and unfortunately, as already mentioned, I couldn’t attend all the presentations I would have like to see, but those that I attended were truly inspiring, and gave me insights in areas of the translation and interpreting industry that I wasn’t aware of or didn’t know well. Luckily for me, the proceedings of the conference will be published in due course. They are bound to make for good reading.

***

On a side note, the Society also held its AGM on Sunday morning at 8am (!). Those lucky members who came along were welcomed with warm coffee and fresh croissants. I’m not sure whether it was for the croissants or the contested presidential election, but it was the best attended AGM in years. Highlights included the awarding of the honorary title of Fellow of the Society to long-standing National Council member Sybille Ferner, the election of the National Council members and the election of NZSTI’s new president, Karl Wilson.