A connected community without language barriers

Associate Professor Hendrika Martine Crezee

Associate Professor “Ineke” Crezee from Auckland University of Technology (AUT), as many of us in the translating and interpreting field know her, woke up to a wonderful surprise on New Year’s Eve before heading into 2020. She was appointed by Her Majesty The Queen as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in recognition of her outstanding services to interpreter and translator (T & I) education.

Congratulations, Ineke, from across the Tasman!

Associate Profession Hendrika Martine Crezee “Ineke”

Ineke has dual backgrounds in nursing and T & I and is one of those rare talents who speak a multitude of languages. Arriving in New Zealand in 1989 from the Netherlands with two Master’s degrees, she started working as a registered nurse and became a part-time health interpreting trainer in 1991. She joined AUT in 1999 as a full-time senior lecturer and programme leader, and completed her doctorate between 2004 and 2008. She is not only a brilliant scholar with prolific research output particularly in the area of health interpreting, but also a nurturing educator who cares deeply about her students, winning her multiple teaching awards at AUT. Ineke was a recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship (Public Health) in 2013, which took her to Seattle Children’s Hospital in Washington State, USA, where she investigated the difference between health interpreters and bilingual patient navigators to help very low health literate families develop an understanding of their child’s condition.

Read more about Ineke’s scholarly work and teaching achievements.

Ineke was born in a tiny village in the Netherlands to her loving parents. Her father, Han, was a policeman, and Mum, Nelie, was a registered nurse. At age 5 she asked her older sister: “I wonder what the word is for poo in German / French / English.” Saint Nicholas must have overheard, because on St Nicholas Eve that year she received a mini chocolate toilet… with a chocolate poo in it. Her family moved every two years because of Dad’s work, exposing little Ineke to the fascinating world of multilingualism. This childhood experience of living in different places and communicating with people of various tongues nurtured her exceptional linguistic talent: the languages she masters include Dutch, English, Old English, Middle English, Latin, Classical Greek, French, Spanish, and German to a lesser degree; in addition, she has done beginner’s courses in Turkish, Arabic, Hebrew, Korean, Mandarin, Modern Greek, Friesian, Italian, and Indonesian; and she reads Afrikaans too, because it is very close to Dutch!

After high school, Ineke completed a four-year diploma course in translation studies (A language Dutch, B language English) at the University of Amsterdam, where she had lectures from translation theorist James Holmes. Out of the 80 students who entered this very challenging course, she was one of only 6 who eventually graduated with an MA. Following the diploma course, she completed a BA English Language and Literature at the VU University Amsterdam, and then a three-and-a-half-year nursing programme at a large general hospital in Amsterdam. During this time, she translated nursing research from English to Dutch for a Dutch nursing journal, which motivated her to enrol at VU University to do an MA in English as well as to complete her MA Translation studies at the University of Amsterdam—yes, simultaneously! After these exhausting two years, she went on a well-earned nine-month backpacking adventure through China, Hong Kong, and other Asian countries.

Soon after arriving in New Zealand in 1989, she started working as a registered nurse. She got involved in developing non-language specific health interpreter training courses from 1991 onwards, and taught these at different institutions during the 1990s. Inspired by a Vietnamese health interpreter who attended one of her courses and commented on the lack of  good textbooks for health interpreting, Ineke embarked on writing one in 1995 when her sons were 1 and 3, while working fulltime during the day. When she completed the book in 1997, the boys were 3 and 5! The first print of 200 copies of the book in 1997 sold out very quickly. A friend in Taiwan found a printer who printed a further 2000 copies in 1998. They were shipped to New Zealand selling a further 1000 copies. An updated version of this book, Introduction to Healthcare for Interpreters and Translators, was later published by John Benjamins in 2013, and its popularity led to the subsequent language-specific versions in Arabic,  ChineseJapaneseSpanish, and Korean (published by Hankuk University), while a Russian version is in progress.

Congratulations again, Ineke! We are very proud of you and grateful for the work you have done for T & I education. You have truly raised the profile of the discipline.

Words by: Dr Miranda LAI, Senior Lecturer, RMIT University

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