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Episode 82: The Papuan New Guinean Inspiration for Pippi Longstocking

A little-known Papua New Guinean inspiration for the legendary red-head Pippi Longstocking character has been celebrated at Brisbane’s Swedish school.

Italian

(fx Pippi Longstocking song in Swedish)

L'entusiasmo cresce alla scuola svedese di Brisbane; tutti si sono travestiti per un’occasione speciale.

(add fx2 ”SING REALLY LOUD” over singing fx)

Si tratta della giornata annuale di Pippi Calzelunghe.

La rossa lentigginosa famosa in tutto il mondo venne creata dall'autrice svedese Astrid Lindgren quasi settantacinque anni fa.

La preside della Svenska Skolan Caroline Kennedy è vestita di rosso, con una parrucca dalle trecce rosse e con lentiggini dipinte in tutta la faccia, in omaggio alla creazione di Lindgren.

"She wrote it to inspire her daughters to be strong, and that’s what Pippi is about: strong women doing whatever they want, and it’s awesome."

Irriverente, sicura di sé e economicamente indipendente, a nove anni Piio è la ragazza con la sua scimmietta Mr Nilson sulla spalla.

Gli studenti della scuola sono tutti travestiti, i ragazzi da pirata e le ragazze con trecce, grembiuli, calze paiate e stivali.

"She’s kind and helpful and strong."

Un'ospite speciale è giunta per condividere le storie del suo legame speciale con il personaggio e le sue origini nelle isole della Papua Nuova Guinea.

"These are all the children who would love to listen to your story." Children: "Hey Maria."

A più di 80 anni, Maria Chan Hoerler è nata in Papua Nuova Guinea e vive ora a Brisbane.

"I read the stories that relate to what my Mum used to tell me, about the little monkey she had and played with on the sand, and then told me about the shark and lots of things that would happen in the South Pacific."

Il nonno di Maria Chan Hoerler era un marinaio svedese, naufragato in quella che nel 1904 era la Nuova Guinea Tedesca e considerato come l'ispirazione per il padre capitano di Pippi.

Carl Emil Pettersen divenne 're' di un isola, proprio come il padre di Pippi, e si sposò con una principessa locale, Singdu: la loro figlia più grande era Elsa, la mamma di Maria Chan Hoerler.

Maria Chan Hoerler ha una foto dei suoi nonni con i figli in Papua Nuova Guinea, e tra di loro c'è Elsa.

"Grandpa would have brought all these clothes from Sweden, see Grandma is dressed up as a Swedish lady, and this is Mum."

Le similitudini sono chiare ed entrambe le ragazze hanno la stessa età.

Racconti di pirati, squali e sua figlia nei Mari del Sud sono le storie che Pettersen scrisse per i giornali svedesi, e che poi riapparvero più tardi reinterpretate da Astrid Lindgren nei suoi libri, tra cui ‘Pippi nei Mari del Sud’.

Per Öresjö è uno dei genitori della scuola.

"Even thought it’s not exactly the same, that so much was built on a real person, it’s amazing."

La figlia di Maria, Melissa Chan, e il nipote Knight visitano Skolan Svenska insieme a lei, trasmettendo la storia di generazione in generazione.

"I tell my children about Pippi Longstocking too, with our Swedish background, even though I don’t know much about it, it’s important for them to know where they come from."

Per la comunità svedese di Brisbane, questa storia poco conosciuta ha ripreso vita e tutto è pronto per le celebrazioni dell'anniversario di Pippi l'anno prossimo.

Maria Chan Hoerler è soddisfatta.

"People are recognising it and I hope Mum is watching from heaven and enjoying it!"

"Bye Maria …  "

 

English 

It’s the 75th anniversary of author Astrid Lindgren’s creation next year, and preparations are well underway in Sweden and around the world, including in Australia.

(fx Pippi Longstocking song in Swedish)

Excitement mounts at the Swedish school in Brisbane;  everyone is dressed up for a special occasion. 

(add fx2 ”SING REALLY LOUD” over singing fx)

It’s their annual Pippi Longstocking day.   

The world famous, freckled red-head … was created by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren almost seventy-five years ago. 

Svenska Skolan head teacher Caroline Kennedy is dressed in red, adorned by a plaited wig and with freckles painted on her face in tribute to Lindgren’s creation. 

"She wrote it to inspire her daughters to be strong, and that’s what Pippi is about: strong women doing whatever they want, and it’s awesome." 

Irreverent, self-assured, and financially independent, nine-year-old Pippi is the girl with her pet monkey, Mr Nilsson, on her shoulder. 

The children at the school are all dressed up too, the boys as pirates, and the girls in pig-tails, smocks, odd-socks and boots. 

"She’s kind and helpful and strong." 

A special guest is there to share stories of her special connection to the character and its beginnings in the islands of Papua New Guinea.   

"These are all the children who would love to listen to your story." Children: "Hey Maria." 

In her eighties, Maria Chan Hoerler was born in PNG and now lives in Brisbane.   

"I read the stories that relate to what my Mum used to tell me, about the little monkey she had and played with on the sand, and then told me about the shark and lots of things that would happen in the South Pacific." 

Maria Chan Hoerler’s grandfather was a Swedish sailor, shipwrecked in what was then German New Guinea in 1904, and is regarded as the inspiration for Pippi’s sea captain father Ephrahim and more. 

Carl Emil Pettersen became 'king' of an island, just like Pippi’s father, and he married a local princess, Singdu: their eldest child Elsa is Maria Chan Hoerler’s mother. 

Maria Chan Hoerler holds a photo of her grandparents with their children in Papua New Guinea, including Elsa. 

"Grandpa would have brought all these clothes from Sweden, see Grandma is dressed up as a Swedish lady, and this is Mum." 

The similarities are clear, both girls are around the same age. 

Tales of pirates, sharks and his daughter in the South Sea are the stories Mr Pettersen wrote for Swedish newspapers, later reappearing, reinterpreted by Astrid Lindgren in her books, including ‘Pippi in the South Sea’. 

Per Öresjö is one of the school parents.   

"Even thought it’s not exactly the same, that so much was built on a real person, it’s amazing." 

Maria’s daughter, Melissa Chan, and grandson, Knight, visit Skolan Svenska with her, passing the story down through the generations. 

"I tell my children about Pippi Longstocking too, with our Swedish background, even though I don’t know much about it, it’s important for them to know where they come from." 

For the Swedish community in Brisbane, this little-known story has been given a new life and the stage is now set for next year’s Pippi anniversary celebrations.  

Maria Chan Hoerler is pleased. 

"People are recognising it and I hope Mum is watching from heaven and enjoying it!" 

"Bye Maria …  "

 

Report by Stefan Armbruster.

 

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