This study guide will help you analyze the short story “Hemi’s Gift” (2013) by TJ Corrigan. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it.
Here you can read an extract from our study guide:
The social setting of the story explores prejudiced attitudes against Māori people.
The story showcases the stereotypes and prejudices that Māori people face in New Zealand. A ‘Pakeha’ couple on the bus share a look at the noise Hemi is making and at the narrator sitting behind him, putting the two together because of their physical appearance and ethnicity which confirms they hold racial prejudices against them.
Despite being of Māori descent herself, the narrator judges Hemi at first glance by his unkempt appearance and says he “looks like the kind of person to disturb the peace” (ll. 14). This reflects racial stereotypes against the Maori as a kind of people who are uncivilized and untidy. The narrator attempts to distance herself from Hemi at first, and thus distance herself from such stereotypes and show the other people on the bus that they should not hold such beliefs about her, even though she holds them about a man she does not know.
The story also highlights important pieces of Māori popular culture such as films: Once Were Warriors (1994), Ngati (1987), and performers such as Māori singer Tina Cross and comedian and musician Billy T. James.