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Personal Responses

“We’re almost there!.. The Emerald City” The short story “Yellow Brick Road” by Witi Ihimaera, a New Zealand author, observes a young boy and his whanau as they travel to start a new life in Wellington. The boy, Matiu can be seen to be very enthusiastic to start his new life in ‘The Emerald City’. This short story consistently compares to the well known story and film ‘The Wizard of Oz’. Matiu is extremely excited for the journey on ‘the yellow brick road’, he trusts that when they arrive in ‘The Emerald City’ everything will be better than his previous life in Waituhi. His sister Roha, and his mum and dad do not share the same excitement and passion for this fresh start, as they are sad to be leaving their old lives behind.

I enjoyed the way Witi Ihimaera used situations that happen in real life to display the conflict between the Maori and Pakeha that was there at the time “Yellow Brick Road’’ was written and even sometimes still today. As Witi Ihimaera is Maori it made me consider that this is possibly a similar situation he has dealt with or experienced throughout his lifetime. Where Matuis family came from, a small place that consisted mainly of Maoris, tells us that Matui has not often had much contact or experience with many Pakeha people, as he asks “Dad, will the Pakehas like us in Wellington?”. The fact Matui said this, makes me believe that he or his family have had no experience with Pakeha culture and are afraid of the unknown. This may scare Matui and his sister Roha. Reading this would surely make people begin to understand what is happening in the real world and thinking of ways we could change this.

The consistent comparison of this short story and ‘The Wizard of Oz’ fascinated me while reading ‘Yellow Brick Road’. It showed us themes of belief, dreams and aspirations, and how they can come true or in this case, have a beautiful cover but underneath it is hiding bad things, it is giving the illusion of being perfect, but just like in the film and book ‘The Wizard of Oz’, the yellow brick road leads to the Emerald City but it is not what it is described and has many flaws and scary assets to it. The author displayed positive reassurance that Wellington or ‘The Emerald City” is such a perfect place, right up till the end when Matui reads the road signs. Matui then begins to question if ‘The Emerald City’ is good for his family after all. Further on, throughout the story us as readers become confused and unsure about this also. The author uses fun and exciting ways of telling the story like giving Matui sentences like “Almost at Wellington, The Emerald City” to let us know how “perfect’’ this fresh start in Wellington will be. From reading the road signs, Matui has second thoughts about how things are going to go for his family.

I liked how in this short story, the main character was Matui, a young boy, infact youngest in the family. I liked this because it gives the reader a perspective of a kid, who is still unsure about the world. Matui displays childish acts by saying that “it was just how I pretended it to be” this tells us that Matui is still quite young if he is still pretending and imagining things like this. I liked how in “Yellow Brick Road” it is not just all happy for Matui, when he realises that Wellington may not quite be as perfect as he once thought, which is good for young people to understand, not everything is going to be ideal and splendid in life.

In this short story I felt that I could relate to Matui when things don’t look like they are going to be as good as he thought they were. I can relate to this because I had this feeling when I first came to Saint Kevins, I was very excited to arrive for a fresh start and then as I got closer to it, I found that everything I thought was going to be perfect, was not. In the text, Matui began to worry about how this was going to work out, and the same exact thing happened to me, so this moment when Matui says “If ever we want to, will we be able to find our way back?” was a similar situation that I found myself in when I first arrived at Saint Kevins.

In the text, I could relate to the situation when Matui and Roha, his sister, are having a small fight. “What are you smiling at…” this is what Roha snaps at Matui. I felt I related to this argument because I have three brothers that I do not always get along with. Reading this in the story made me realize that other families have this issue and it is not just me and my brothers. Roha is the older sibling out of her and Matui. I am in the same position as Matui, as I am younger than my brothers. The story made it out that the younger sibling is the one that is causing the trouble and pestering the older sibling, which in fact is true and I can strongly relate to that as I also have a younger brother.

I would definitely recommend this text for anyone to read, it informs the reader of two main points, one being the racism and conflict between Maori and Pakeha at that time when the short story was written, and still even nowadays sometimes.
It helps to display some examples of this, and it gives the reader a perspective or viewpoint of what it is like to experience this racism in a real life situation. This is good because it is clear that still many people have no idea about this sort of thing. It helped me to open my eyes to these issues in society. I related to the text as it was written by a New Zealand author, and it is based in New Zealand. So I would recommend this to any New Zealander.

Another reason why I would recommend this short story is because it gives us multiple great examples of how your dreams and aspirations can be shut down and changed without your consent. It tells us clearly how our dreams are not always going to work out how we wanted them to. Overall it is a very well written text that is an interesting read, but also informs the reader on two big points being racism and not to set expectations too high. “Yellow Brick Road” is a great read and I recommend it to anyone willing to read.

Kia ora

Great text to choose and you have written a thorough personal response. It is great to see you have embraced the “personal” element and made a lot of very reflective comments, as well as incorporated evidence.

There are definitely elements of insight and perception in here. You could perhaps be a bit more specific in your paragraph about racism in NZ then and today as it was a little bit vague - “opened my eyes to these issues” - but this is not exemplified from the text (in terms of what these issues stem from and who they affect).

It is very long - so I would possibly look to just adapt what you have there to be more specific (perhaps with an eg from text) rather than make it any longer.

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