“You take and take, but you cannot take from who we are” – “Raupatu” by Alien Weaponry

In this blog post, I would like to discuss a slightly unorthodox form of cultural remembrance.

“Raupatu” is the second single released by Alien Weaponry, a metal band from Aotearoa whose songs are mostly performed in Te Reo and occasionally accompanied by traditional instruments and historical recordings.

Despite their debut album’s namesake being Tū, the god of war, other topics ranging from expressions of personal feelings to the remembrance of one’s roots to addressing problems within modern lifestyles (like social media addiction in “Nobody Here”) can be found as well, with their musical style caught somewhere between extremely rhythmic thrash metal and more melodic groove metal.

[Māori:][English translation:]
Nā te Tiriti
Te tino, tino rangatiratanga
O o ratou whenua
Tino, tino rangatiratanga
O ratou kainga
Tino rangatiratanga
Me o ratou taonga katoa
Accorded by the Treaty
The full possession and chiefly authority
Over their lands
Full possession and chiefly authority
Over their communities
Full possession and chiefly authority
Over all things of value to them
Translation included in closed captions

Raupatu can be translated as “conquest” or “confiscation”, generally carrying the connotation of an unjust acquisition according to Māori ownership rules. Specifically, this song refers to the NZ colonial government signing the New Zealand Settlements Act in 1863, thereby breaching a previous treaty meant to guarantee Māori ownership of ancestral lands in Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island), which in turn resulted, among other things, in the systematic occupation of Taranaki during the Second Taranaki War and the demise of many Māori villages. However, this verse covers more than just land as the treaty from Māori perspective was supposed to guarantee autonomy and “chiefly authority over all things of value” as well. In conjunction with the last verse, this song points to a disparity between colonial land-grabbing and the Māori desire to protect their homes.

[Māori:][English translation:]
Waikato Awa
He piko, he taniwha
Kingi Tawhiao
Me Wiremu Tamihana
Ki Rangiriri e tū ana
Ko Te Whiti o Rongomai
Ki Parihaka e noho ana
Raupatu!
The Waikato river
On every bend a mighty war chief
King Tawhiao
And Wiremu Tamihana
Made a stand at Rangiriri
Te Whiti o Rongomai
Held fast at Parihaka
Confiscated!
Translation included in closed captions

Remembering their roots was an important topic for the brothers Henry Te Reiwhati and Lewis Raharuhi de Jong when growing up, listening to the various stories tied to the surrounding landscapes. These stories ultimately served as inspiration to form the band and write about both the past and the present in Aotearoa. “Raupatu” revives King Tawhiao, Wiremu Tamihana and the passive resistance led by Te Whiti o Rongomai through powerful lyrics, guitar riffs and relentless drums. Once again are Rangiriri, Pukehinahina, Taurangaika and Parihaka turned into battlefields. While not as elegant as a poem, this musical genre certainly seems fit to retell Māori history.

[Māori:][English translation:]
Raupatu… Rangiriri
Raupatu… Pukehinahina
Raupatu… Taurangaika
Raupatu… Parihaka

You take and take
But you cannot take from who we are
You cannot take our mana
You cannot take our māoritanga
You cannot take our people
You cannot take our whakapapa
You cannot take, you cannot take
Raupatu!
Confiscated… Rangiriri
Confiscated… Pukehinahina
Confiscated… Taurangaika
Confiscated… Parihaka

You take and take
But you cannot take from who we are
You cannot take our dignity
You cannot take our cultural identity
You cannot take our people
You cannot take our family heritage
You cannot take, you cannot take
Raupatu!
Translation included in closed captions

Various tribes lost their homes and villages in the 19th century wars in Aotearoa. The lands were confiscated. And yet, their language and history keep them rooted. A powerful and important message especially for the bandmembers themselves. As Lewis Raharuhi de Jong once said in an interview with the Guardian: “Māori aren’t treated the same as others in New Zealand and, until that changes, we’re not finished.”

The usage of English in the last verse can act as a bridge, connecting modern Māori with their own history, confronting Pākehā with the aftermath of imperialism, but also explaining the conflict to the otherwise unfamiliar outsider. Anglophone listeners will at the very least understand the broader theme of confiscations and identity, even if they don’t understand the stanzas sung in Te Reo.

Language barriers, however, don’t seem to be an issue judging by their growing popularity outside of the Polynesian cultural sphere. Their performance at the Copenhell festival saw up to 6.000 metal fans perform a haka (as far as that is possible in a crowded space) with guidance from haka teacher and HAKAPEOPLE CEO Kane Harnett-Mutu. An event surprising not only the organisers, but also the band itself. And those who want to bend the barrier a bit further will find translated lyrics throughout the internet.

“Raupatu” – and Alien Weaponry’s musical style in general – might not exactly be suitable for mainstream radio stations, yet I would assume that even without a strong affinity for metal music, their works can be enjoyed and appreciated. If not on account of style, then at the very least on account of substance.
Judging by their appearance on Metal Hammer’s cover with the tag line “meet the future of metal”, the band certainly has found their place in metal’s vast genealogy – and it will be exciting to see how many future musicians take inspirations from this band.

“Raupatu” written by Henry Te Reiwhati de Jong, Lewis Raharuhi de Jong and Ethan Trembath
Translation provided by Alien Weaponry themselves.

Translation included in closed captions


Lyrics (Includes Translation)
Bandcamp
Official Website

Also relevant:
https://teara.govt.nz/en/zoomify/36535/raupatu-confiscated-lands

The Diverse Short Stories of Rivqa Rafael

written by Sevgi Osman

The author Rivqa Rafael was introduced to me at an event about Jewish Australian Speculative Fiction and since then, I wanted to read some of her short stories. She mainly writes short speculative fiction about queer women, Jewish women, cyborg futures and hope in dystopias. I have looked into four of her short stories and quickly became a little obsessed with the stories and their plots. What caught my attention was how diverse and unique her storytelling was and because of that, I decided to take a closer look at them and report back some of my opinions.

The stories that I read were “Whom My Soul Loves”, “Love Thy Neighbour”, “The Day Girl” and “Two Somebodies Go Hunting”. When I first started reading her short story “Whom My Soul Loves”, I had to look up a lot of names and terms, since she uses Hebrew names like Osnat, Shmueli and refers to demons as dybbuk. Besides looking some stuff up, I got sucked into this story. A Jewish woman called Osnat is seen as a tzedeyke (a biblical figure or spiritual master) and has to do some sort of exorcism since a woman got possessed by a dybbuk, who in the end turns out to be an ibbur (a positive form of dybbuk). The ending also surprised me because I was expecting the exorcism to be over and done, but Rafael turned the story around, making Osnat seem like a lonely main character who fell in love with a girl named Dina, who only saw her as a friend. The dybbuk, or shall I say ibbur, turned out to be a lonely spirit that was in love with the person it possessed and quickly made Osnat realise that she could “relate” to the demon’s feelings. It is important to note how Rafael writes some of her dystopian stories and connects them to private matters that humans might go through or other social issues.

Furthermore, I noticed the pattern that Rivqa Rafael likes to change original stories up and turn them into a more interesting and fun read. This can be seen in “Love Thy Neighbour”, where she chose the biblical names Adam and Eve for her main characters but changed their original love story and created a love triangle with both of these lovers and a girl named Lilith*. Since Rafael writes about Jewish speculative fiction, there is no surprise how she uses the Hebrew term Elohim to refer to God. In her story, Elohim set Eve up to be with Adam and have his children, but Eve doesn’t get to have free will to be on her own or with anyone else. After she finds out that Adam has been sleeping with Lilith, she realises that he “loved her (Lilith) in a way that he could never love her.”. But shockingly, Eve ends up going to Lilith and also having an affair with her. In the end, they all go against God’s wishes and become lovers. This is what I meant by Rafael having very diverse and unique stories, she depicts the story from Adam and Eve from the bible and completely changes it up by making the characters queer, carefree and rebellious.

“The Day Girl” and “Two Somebodies Go Hunting” both have a similar structure and plot since they are set in a dystopian world. In the first-mentioned story, Genevieve, a queer woman, works at a meteorology job against her mother’s wishes because she wants to save humanity with Rubens’ medicine. She soon realises that Rubens is a fraud company, selling filler instead of medicine and poisoning other humans. After that, she flees and exposes the company, along with Camela, her lover and Henry, a friend of hers. In the second-mentioned story, Jeff and Lex go hunting, but this time it’s because their mother sends them to do so. They live in a place where there is no humanity left, only wildlife. To survive, they have to hunt animals and search for nutritious food. Jeff and Lex are siblings who seem to fight and disagree with each other often. As they lose the red kangaroo they wanted to catch, they get into a fight and as soon as they calm down, they find lots of big fish which will end up nurturing them after suffering in the overheated warm weather.

A noticeable pattern traces itself throughout Rafael’s short stories. They all have a conflict that is solved in the end. Rafael creates strong and remarkable characters in her stories that go through various transformations: discovering their sexuality, dealing with physical and mental health and family issues. Hebrew names and terms are often mentioned in these stories that mark them as what they are: Jewish Australian Speculative Fiction. I am looking forward to reading more of Rivqa Rafael’s work since they are fun to read and I can always expect that each story is very different from the other yet unique and with some common themes to tie them together.

*Editor’s Note: The editors are aware of the broader mythology of Lilith and would encourage our readers to delve into their own research if they are interested in learning more! In this case, the editors elected not to alter the author’s original words, as we feel they reflect Lilith’s own absence in much discourse.

H20: An Australian Fantasy series

by Valmire Shala

Fantasy is usually understood as a situation that one enjoys thinking about but that is unlikely to happen OR a story or type of literature that describes situations that are very different from real life and more closely linked to fairy tales, myth and legend and often involve such things as magic or just the generally abnormal.

Thus, fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction, often inspired by the real world. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy literature and drama. Nowadays you can find fantasy in various media, including film, television, graphic novels, video games, animated movies, and manga. One of them is the series H2O: Just Add Water.

The series H20: Just Add Water is a worldwide known Australian fantasy teen drama written by Jonathan M. Shiff which first released in 2006. It was filmed in Australia, more precisely the Gold Coast. The show is about three teenage girls; Emma, Rikki and Cleo, who are facing everyday problems with the important caveat being that they are mermaids with different powers over water. The girls one day ended up in the water under a dormant volcano, at Mako Island, just as a full moon passes above them. There something strange happened. The next day they discover that ten seconds after coming into contact with water, they transform into mermaids. As time goes on, they also discover that they have supernatural powers over water, such as moving water, freezing it or bring it to a boil. With time they adapt their new abilities and lifestyle. Along the way, their smart friend Lewis is there for the girls to help them keep their secret and to find out more about it.

However, the question is: What exactly makes this show an Australian Fantasy and not for example Australian Science-Fiction? Is it the setting, certain themes or even the authors place of birth?

Fantasy is distinguished from the genres of science fiction and horror by the absence of scientific explanations and fear-inducing storylines respectively even though these genres overlap. But fantasy crosses the boundaries of reality in a way that can no longer be explained by laws of nature and scientific knowledge. Fantasy is therefore the oldest fictional genre, because all mythological figures and creatures fall into this category: gods, demons, vampires, mythical animals/creatures, monsters, and other magical figures, and also abilities (such as superpowers). Therefore, one can say that the Australian fantasy genre is therefore difficult to define, but what is certain is that it can be very diverse, due to the influence of the many different cultures that exist in Australia. A text can be Australian fantasy if there is an Australian setting, it deals with Australian culture or even if the author is Australian or has at least his residence there. However, the Australian literature is not necessarily set in Australia or explicitly about Australians or/and Australia. Because this is not a complete list, and it is not required that Australian Fantasy stories must have all this points to be considered Australian Fantasy.

In this case the show’s author is from Australia, as well as the three main characters and the setting is also in Australia. And also, the fact that they are mermaids and have supernatural powers and magical/supernatural things happens makes it an Australian Fantasy show. It makes you dive into a world were mermaids exist and makes you part of the secret, that you forget while watching that there normally are no such creatures as mermaids with superpowers. It is also enriching to see the beautiful Gold Coast and the capital Sydney, where most of the episodes are filmed.

References:

H2O: Just Add Water
Ryan, John. “Reflections on an Australian Fantasy: constructing the impossible.” Coolabah. Vol. 18, 2016, pp. 16-22

“Mad Max: Fury Road”: A movie about female emancipation and feminism

by Adesua Atamah

At first glance the Australian movie Mad Max: Fury Road by George Miller seems to be a stereotypical action movie; wild car chases, burning gasoline tanks, and deadly car crashes. But when you move your focus towards deeper meaning, the movie is clearly about women’s empowerment and feminism. Six women fighting for their freedom, against a cruel postapocalyptic regime. Six women are trying to escape their male predators in a world marked by a collapsed society, famine, droughts, male leadership, and natural catastrophes.

“Our babies will not be warlords.” “Who ruined the world? “We are not things.”

This is the powerful message left behind by five brave women who escaped dictator Joe. Imprisoned and used as “breeding machines”, their only purpose was to bear Joe more sons. Joe is the gruesome ruler, oppressing society by controlling the overall water supplies. Moreover, he especially oppresses women by taking away their freedom and sexually assaulting them. His character is a good example for many misogynistic men – men who are hostile towards women by believing they are more worthy and capable than women. Their message embodies what many women have felt for centuries. Even though the movie is set in the future the patriarchy still exists, moreover, it worsened. It is an act of rebellion when these five-woman escape with heroine Furiosa’s help. They actively emancipate themselves and risk their lives for independence. They rather die in a deadly car chase than submit to male torture and oppression.

Furiosa is the heroine of the story, and she embodies female empowerment and strength. She is the only female among the military ranks who serves in Joe as an imperator. When she was ordered to protect Joe’s wives, she forms a bond with the women and decides to escape with them, by hiding the women in the tank of her War rig, which she used to drive for Joe. She turned to a rebel overnight. She deceives Joe and catches him off guard. Her strength, commitment, and intelligence all contribute to their success in the end. She tricks Joe and escapes with his wives. Joe sees the women as his property and therefore gets angry when he noticed he was tricked. He responds with a violent hunt; however, he is defeated in the end. When the women return to Joe’s fortress they are cheered up and celebrated as heroes.

In the movie, men want to achieve singular glory. However, Furiosa and the other women work together as a team and their success is built by a collective power. In the end, they can improve the oppressive system of this post-apocalyptic society. “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a movie about feminism and the rebellion against the patriarchy. Women fight as a team against men who try to bring back old gender roles, and male authority. Therefore, the movie also tries to warn us by implying that fight for gender equality is not over yet. Misogyny is not only a problem of the past, but also a problem of the present, and future. Misogyny can just be defeated if women work together and not against each other.

Crikey! Australian Voices in Borderlands The Pre-sequel

by Danny Tran

“Hello hello? Thought you were salvage, you are about to die!”

Following the action-packed opening mission and violently crash landing on the moon of Concordia, Borderlands The Pre-sequel, with its bizarre but strangely amusing name, opens up with a thick Australian accent, something that took most gamers by surprise.

Known for its quirky dialogue and loot-based gameplay, Borderlands has been deemed the precursor of the “looter shooter” genre, a genre that to this day is unbelievably successful. While the original games Borderlands 1, 2, 3 were all developed by American studio Gearbox Software, 2K Australia, a subsidiary studio under the branch of Gearbox studios, pitched the idea of a prequel game following the release of Borderlands 2.

This prequel would explore the backstory of some of the characters, while simultaneously setting up the future following Borderlands 2 abrupt, cliffhanger ending. In short, 2K Australia wanted to develop a special kind of game, one which took into account both the past and the future: a pre-sequel indeed. Gearbox Studios approved the pitch and 2K Australia began their journey on making their own game. While the pre-sequel built upon pre-existing mechanics, the Australian developer wanted to put their own mark on the Borderlands franchise, and a lasting one at that.

Mainstream media and videogames in general are largely dominated by American influence and Borderlands up to that point in time, was no exception to this. In response to this, 2K Australia saw a great opportunity to sprinkle some of their own culture into the game: since the game took place in a new destination, why not make the inhabitants of the moon Concordia Australian? While the series was always known for its humorous dialogue, the developers who now had their own Australian writing staff, made use of this unique opportunity to implement a plethora of references to Australian comedy and culture. Charming characters like “The Don”, an aptly named NPC whose name is a reference to the renowned batsmen Donald Bradman, serves as one of these examples.  Never seen without his bat, this NPC fittingly references the Australian’s favorite sport of cricket on numerous occasions, even tasking the players to retrieve his ball in homonymously named mission “The Don”. The developers at 2K Australia were seemingly quite invested in Australian literature too, as the bush ballad “Waltzing Matilda” found itself recreated in the mission “The Empty Billabong”. Written by Banjo Paterson in the late 1800s, the song is about a “swagman” who gets himself into trouble by killing the sheep of a nearby landowner. Unwilling to get caught by the pursuing authorities, he defiantly declares “You’ll never catch me alive!”, before ultimately drowning himself in a nearby billabong. In the Borderlands version, a NPC named Peepot tasks the player with finding their best friend, “The Jolly Swagman”, who has seemingly gone missing. Similar to his counterpart, “The Jolly Swagman” meets his untimely demise near a river — in this case one made of lava — while holding onto a tuckerbag. Upon opening his tuckerbag, it is revealed that it contained a baby Kraggon, — Borderlands equivalent of a sheep. While the overall setting and humor of the Borderlands universe are unique to say the least, the writers managed to stay somewhat true to the original, simultaneously adding their own twist to the story.

Other more peculiar examples include a foul-mouthed, talking shotgun which stands in direct reference to the “Bogan” stereotype. The Bogan stereotype, which is quite renown in Australia and New Zealand, describes an unfashionable and uncouth person, one that is usually of lower social status.  The dialogue of “Boganella”, certainly reflects the colorful vocabulary of someone who is supposed to represent this particular stereotype.

Taking everything into account, this brings us to the final point of this blogpost. The Borderlands community took a divided stance on both the unfamiliar accent and the quirky cultural references. While most of these examples went over the heads of the majority of people, Australian gamers were thrilled to finally see a game in which they could see themselves represented. English is getting more and more prevalent in every aspect of mainstream media, yet people tend to forget that other dialects and cultures exist beyond the culturally accepted American and British variation. While the pre-sequel was ultimately met with mixed reviews overall, 2K Australia sprinkled in linguistic and cultural diversity one a scale that many games to this day have not displayed. I for one enjoyed learning about Australian culture in this game, and I hope to see some more of it in the future.

Bibliography

Borderlands Fandom Wiki. https://borderlands.fandom.com. Accessed 28th February 2022.

Sailing Whitsundays. “The history of waltzing Matilda”. https://sailing-whitsundays.com/article/history-of-waltzing-matilda.  Accessed 28th February 2022.

Max Langride. “What’s A Bogan? Are You A Bogan? You Probably Are”.  https://www.dmarge.com/signs-youre-a-bogan. Accessed 28th February 2022.

Cargo (2017): A new take on traditional Zombie Movies

by Ben Königsfeld

Cargo is originally a horror short film released in 2013 by Yolanda Romke and Ben Howling. It is seven minutes long and deals with a father who was infected with a zombie virus after getting bitten by his wife. Knowing his forthcoming demise, the father puts his infant daughter in his backpack and lets a stick with a piece of flesh dangle in front him. Consequently, he follows that piece of flesh after turning into a zombie to make sure he finds survivors to ensure his daughter has a future. Four years after the short film was released, Yolanda Romke and Ben Howling had a chance to turn their passion project into a full length movie for Netflix with Martin Freeman playing the role of Andy, the father from the short film, and Susie Porter playing his wife Kay.


The movie has the same premise as the short film but begins before the events of it take place. Andy and Kay, alongside their infant daughter Rosie, live on a boat safely away from the zombie rotten land but Kay gets infected after going through an abandoned boat. Knowing they have 48 hours before she turns into a zombie, Andy and his wife go on land hoping to find supplies. After a car crash, Kay starts to transform faster and ends up biting Andy. This marks the start of Andy’s journey to find survivors and a safe home for his daughter Rosie.


Although the movie may seem like another zombie film, it has several aspects that differentiates itself from other movies of the zombie genre. Primarily, the word zombie is not mentioned in the movie. The directors themselves wanted to avoid the cliches that come with the sub genre and designed the idea of a ‘‘viral‘‘, to make their infected have their own stylistics. Unlike other zombie films, human relation plays a big a role in Cargo as the motives of most characters are driven by their loved ones. Throughout the film Andy meets a girl called Thoomi. Thoomi’s father is also infected, but she is trying to keep him alive by feeding him with wildlife and hiding him from survivors, in hopes of finding a shaman. Thoomi’s introduction opens the movie to the significant role of indigenous characters. In the end Rosie’s life is saved not only by Andy but also by Thoomi and other people of her community as a great deal of them are still alive and healthy. This also demonstrates that indigenous groups managed to survive through to their ability and history in hunting and living in the outback which has left them with better knowledge to live in a world where society is mostly gone. The directors closely worked with an indigenous script consultant called Jon Bell and also asked other natives for criticism on their script and permission to use their language. It also heavily focuses on family and the relationship of a father and his daughter similar to the South Korean zombie movie Train to Busan by Yeon Sang-Ho. Nevertheless, it is still different from Sang-Ho’s film as Romke and Howling decided to leave out classic horror features such as showing great amounts of gore or making use of jump scares to create tension. The real tension comes from the ticking clock of Andy‘s transformation and the seemingly endless landscapes of the Australian outback.


Cargo is a new take on the traditional zombie film, a genre which has recently become boring. Yolanda Romke and Ben Howling created a fantastic full length zombie movie laid on the foundation of a seven-minute short film and managed to find the perfect balance between horror and the relationship of a family during apocalyptic times. This movie, alongside the aforementioned Train to Busan, hopefully marks the start of a new and revolutionized era of the zombie sub genre.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf – A Book Review

by Nadja Marek

“You can’t transform a society for the better with violence, Ashala. Only with ideas.”

(Kwaymullina 190)

As a person who genuinely enjoys dystopian novels, I have encountered many novels that involve the same aspects of this genre. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf surprised me in several ways, and I really enjoyed its unique use of narrative devices and play of temporal and spatial factors. The novel is set 300 years in the future and nature is almost completely destroyed. The main protagonist, Ashala Wolf, is the leader of a tribe with children who have special powers. They live together in the so-called Firstwood, outside of the city. These kids are being chased by the government and Ashala ends up getting captured and locked up. She is tied to a machine, which then extracts her memories. 

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is divided into different days of Ashala being locked up, as well as into core memories the machine extracts from her mind. The switch between these two allows the novel to build up tension and ultimately come to a plot twist that no one expects. 

Ambelin Kwaymullina uses the Aboriginal concept of time to represent indigenous perception and values within her novel. In contrast to the western standard of perceiving time in a linear model, Aboriginal people see time as something circular, something that is moving around an individual. The more important an event is, the closer it is to time. This is clearly shown in her narrative structure, as she reconstructs the events going on around Ashala Wolf and their importance to the storyline. The chapters jump in-between time, which gives the reader a nice foreshadowing of what is going to help her get out of the institution where Ashala has been kept. 

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is a Young Adult Dystopian fiction that gives a voice to Australian history and combines it with a beautiful story about bravery and rebellion. Anyone who enjoys a lighthearted post-apocalyptic dystopia should give this book a try, it is definitely worth it. The combination of mythology, as well as futuristic themes, makes this novel a unique experience. I am also excited to read more about Ashala and her fellow peers in the other books of the tribe series: The Disappearance of Ember Crow and The Foretelling of Georgie Spider. 

Bibliography

Kwaymullina, Ambelin. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf. Candlewick Press, 2016.

H2O: Just Add Water and myth of mermaids in Australia

by Lisa-Marie Richter

Rewatching H20: Just Add Water a couple of weeks ago, I started to wonder whether it is in
some ways connected to the myth of mermaids living in Australia – considering that it is an Australian children’s show about mermaids!


Firstly, for those who have not seen the series, let me give you a brief summary. It is a series about school girls who turn to mermaids, immediately after having contact with water. Of course, nobody is supposed to know that they are mermaids, therefore life gets very difficult for them and is mainly about them trying to hide their real selves.

So let’s have a look at some Australian myths.

The Yawkyawk

Yawkyawk literally means :”young woman spirit being”. (occultworld.com) The Yawkyawk is a creature with origins in Australian mythology, legend and folklore. The legend of the Yawkyawk states that women can get pregnant, just by visiting a Yawkyawk water hole. It is said that they provide water for plants and sweet water for people to drink. When they are angered, they supposedly start disruptive storms and disrupt marriages. Their true form is believed to be a woman, whose hair is made of algae with a fishtail from her waist downward. Furthermore, they are to be more active at night. There are also some Aboriginal language groups that believe that albino children born to aboriginal parents are a result of mermaid blood in their ancestry. (troublemeg.com)

It should be added, however, that these accounts should be treated with caution as they were most likely not uploaded to the internet by Aboriginal people themselves, but seem to be part of a general cryptozoology community online – perhaps a modern version of colonial collectors of Aboriginal tales and thus somewhat problematic.

Mermaids in H2O


Not only do mermaids in H2O turn into humans and have normal human hair, they also do not help provide water for plants and humans. They have a fishtail once they make contact with water which is a parallel. The mermaids in H20, have their own water hole on Mako Island, which they call the Moon Pool but humans do not get pregnant in that water, they turn into mermaids in that place. The series also features different types of mermaids. The ones that are born as mermaids in the sea, and the main characters of the series, who fall into the moon pool. In conclusion, there are not very many parallels between the myth of the Yawkyawk and H20. The fact that in both, the mermaids have a fishtail and that their own water holes play a big role, even though it is a different one, is in my opinion not enough to call the series based on tales about mermaids told by Aboriginal people; they seem to be conforming to the Eurocentric view on mermaids we know so well from European fairy tales or American films like Disney’s Ariel!

A response to Transient by Kelly Joseph

A woman who is stranded in the United States, where she was seeking adventures but is increasingly feeling homesick. Never able to fully arrive in this country the woman wanders through the streets of New York one day until she finally enters a museum that eventually helps her realize that she must go home again to feel whole again. This is the core plot of the short story “Transient, written by Kellly Joseph.

“And I cry for myself, thousands of miles from home, struggling to stay strong but failing miserably. I don’t know how I strayed so far from my beginnings.”

p. 147

A relatable woman

Reading this story, I was quickly involved, it reminded me of my own experience of leaving my home country and diving in a new and different culture, remote from my roots and familiar surroundings. A major difference to the woman in the story was that I knew the day I would travel home, though, hence I never reached a point of comparable desperation.

Right from the beginning, I was able to sympathize with the female protagonist because of the intimate emotions and thoughts we are presented with. Being “the same awkward, shy-arse girl” is a thought I could relate to, which got me invested in the story and encouraged me to continue reading. I really liked the chain of events that emerged afterwards. Busy city, busy people and no one noticing what is really going on around them. Anonymous in the crowd, just like a beggar, the only person who notices her breaking out into tears at the exhibition. This little twist towards the end that builds a bridge to the beginning reminded me of a spiral inside the story, which in turn made me think of whakapapa, the way Māori look at their heritage.

“Surrounded by thousands of displaced objects, I know what must be done.”

p. 149

Displaced like an exhibit

As the story draws to a close, the protagonist concludes that she must reconnect with her roots. Though it was clear to me that the story could only end in this decision, I enjoyed the metaphor of the museum, making the woman one of many exhibits that are out of place. By relating to one exhibited object in particular, and seeing it in a larger context of displacement, she is able to grasp the severity of her own loneliness and homesickness. All in all, the story was successful in conveying a sense of what it feels like to be out of place, surrounded by strangers in a strange place.

The Mysterious Success of Australian Sci-Fi Kids Shows

Growing up watching Australian TV shows and movies, we – that is, my generation and before, who were watching a surprising amount of Australian content – unintentionally developed a picture of Australia. A lot of water, beaches and the sea, unusual animals like kangaroos and alligators, sunshine, and great weather. Essentially, a lot of landscapes and positive vibes. As Men at Work said it themselves, it is “the land down under”.

When we start talking about Australian speculative fiction, we realize that it covers a broad genre of books, movies, tv shows, and other media. Once we take a look back at our childhood, we can realize how Australian TV shows that fall into the category of speculative fiction have actually been a part of growing up. Children from various places and generations were able to take a glimpse at Australian science fiction tv shows and form their own opinion and picture of Australia.

By looking at kids tv shows such as Ocean Girl, H2O: Just Add Water, Wicked Science and The Elephant Princess we can acknowledge how much of an impact Australian science fiction and fantasy shows have had around the globe over decades. Different generations were able to watch various approaches of sci-fi characters and touch upon individual topics and stories.

Ocean Girl and H2O: Just Add Water were able to convey similar plots and themes to different generations. Cleo, Emma, Ricki, and Bella are the protagonists of H2O: Just Add Water and Neri, Jason, and Brett of Ocean Girl. The idea of mermaids, underwater civilizations and have been an ongoing myth for centuries such as the island of Atlantis. According to the myth, the island was submerged into the Atlantic Ocean for eternity. Thus, people from all ages – young to old – were all intrigued about stories of the unknown of the ocean and eager to watch mystic creatures such as mermaids and mermen. These two TV shows were able to incorporate these interesting myths and motifs in tv shows for kids to watch and teach them about these centuries’ old legends. The beautiful landscapes and the ocean were a bonus to the nice plot.

Wicked Science on the other hand was able to touch upon the topic of science. It’s a story about regular teenagers who turn into geniuses. An experiment which results in an accident turns the two high-school students Toby and Elizabeth from regular teenagers to kids with scientific superpowers. Whether to use them for good or for bad is up to their own decision. Thus, the tv show teaches kids a valuable lesson to use whichever power they might have for good. Simultaneously, we can follow these school kids along with their everyday life such as friendship problems, family issues and first love encounters.

Lastly, The Elephant Princess is a fantasy tv show about an average teenager, Alex, who one day finds out that she is not the person she always thought she was. It turns out she is the long-lost heir to the throne of a fictional Indian kingdom called Manjipoor. Alex’s life turns upside down and the viewers get to watch whether Alex will be able to master her life between saving the kingdom of Manjipoor and her regular life back home in the Australian suburbs.

All these TV shows were able to draw the interest of children from various places and backgrounds. The key element was the mix of the successful depiction of science fiction and fantasy motifs which were connected to the Australian culture and landscape. Once incorporated and displayed this way, the success was almost inevitable – and generations of children knew of Australian speculative fiction before they’d even heard the term!