Hemi Kelly is of Ngati Maniapoto and Ngati Tahu-Ngati Whaoa descent. He started learning te reo Maori as a young teenager and naturally progressed into teaching roles after study. Hemi is a full-time lecturer in te reo Maori at the Auckland University of Technology. His academic research and writing focus largely on the revitalsation of the Maori language and translation studies.
Hemi is a licensed translator and graduate of Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo (The Institute of Excellence in the Maori Language). In 2017, Hemi translated Witi Ihimaera’s novella in Sleeps Standing and published his first book A Maori Word a Day in 2018. In 2019, Hemi published his first creative writing piece in English in Purakau, a collection of Maori myths retold by Maori writers.