Kim Garrett as Te Rongopai Rameka

Where did you grow up?

Born and bred in Whakatane, in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

How long have you been acting and how did you get your first big break?

My mother would answer that with, “her whole life”.  I started getting paid for it though, in the early 2000s.

My, “big break”? I’ve never thought of or worried about a big break, I’ve wanted consistency and work that I value.

If I were to try to answer this I’d suggest it was when I met my mentor Tony McCaffrey, that was a big break for me. Working with him has taken me around the world and helped shape the actor I am today. If my whanau were to answer this question, it would guaranteed be, Shortland Street!

Name three similarities between you and your onscreen character.

We both speak our minds! I’ve wanted often throughout my life to hold my tongue, but I cannot seem to help myself, my passionate thoughts and opinions leave my mouth before I can think!

We both have a strong love and loyalty for our family, our children in particular.

We have both had to move away from our loved ones and our homes for work… not easy.

What has been your best experience on the show to date?

It hasn’t aired yet, can I talk about it? I’m at a party, things get a little crazy, and I have a very funny moment with the host… let’s leave it at that for now. 

Which other character would you like to play and why?

Great question! I am really enjoying Dylan at the moment, that darker side… as a performer I’d love the chance to play the bad guy, do crazy things, that would be fun!

If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?

A pilot.

What is your favourite place to travel?

I love travel, it’s possibly my favourite thing, I’m such a gypsy. There are so many stunning places to visit in the world, but to be honest, for me, New Zealand wins. 

I’m always going on road trips to some of the most beautiful places in the world which just happen to be in our own backyard.

I haven’t been further North than Whangarei yet, but I have a dear friend who lives with his wife in the Hokianga, that is my next holiday destination, it looks like paradise!

What star sign are you, and do you believe in horoscopes?

I believe the stars and planets have guided people for centuries. I am a Leo, my mane may give me away.

Do you have any pets? 

Growing up I had a cockatiel, a dog, several cats who were very special, they all had six toes on each paw!

Currently I have a dog who is being cared for by my Mother, thanks Ma, and a cat who is with my youngest son back home in Christchurch

Who is the actor or actress that you were most excited to work with?

I knew my friend Awhi, who is playing Becky, had started on the show before me so I was very excited to work with her again. 

The last time we worked together was in Mary Poppins. Awhi has THE MOST stunning voice, hopefully our viewers will get a taste of it someday.

What has been your favorite scene to film in your time at Shortland Street?

I loved my entrance scene, Drew’s face… gold!

What would be your last meal if you were on death row? Anything you want.

Death row? Let’s hope that never happens! My Mum's chicken casserole and my Grandmother’s self-saucing chocolate pudding with cream. Mmmm, now I’m hungry. 

What is your favourite film of all time, and why?

Just one?! Impossible. Tombstone, Aladdin, The Fifth Element, The Matrix, The Princess Bride, Predator, Pulp Fiction, Enter the Dragon, The Empire Strikes Back, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Goonies, Black Panther

Oh man, I could list forever. I love action comedies, I love animation, musicals, romance, martial arts, sci-fi. I love a great story… I’m a storyteller, I love it all!  Well, I’m not so good with horrors, but it would be fun to act in one!

Are you from Auckland or did you move here to film Shortland Street

I have been based in Christchurch for the last 16-or-so years, I wanted to ensure my children had stability. Thanks to my amazing support team I was able to continue acting.

Yet again they don’t think twice about offering their help and are holding down the fort for me, allowing me to move up to Auckland for my Shorty gig. So much love and gratitude to my phenomenal supporters, I couldn’t be where I am today without them.

Which other actors/actresses do you hang out with most between takes?

All of them… whoever is around at the time. I have found the cast are made up of fantastic people who are all so positive, kind and up for a laugh. Who can ask for more?!

What’s the best experience you’ve had with a fan/fans?

None with Shortland Street yet as I’m so new, but I did have a uni student come up to me once and share how they had seen me perform the night before in Jean Genet’s, The Maids.

He shared how profoundly he was moved by the work we had done. This was one of my first productions so it meant the world to me.

What’s the strangest experience you’ve had with a fan/fans?

I haven’t many fan stories, the good thing about working in theatre is you can pretty much stay under the radar, which I like. 

I have had hate mail come to me for being a Maori in a period piece… the strange thing was, my mother was played by Rima TeWiata… a Maori… and they loved her. People are strange.

Can you remember your first day on Shortland Street – what was it like?

I definitely remember my first day, because I didn’t do a thing. Anyone from Auckland will remember, but for those outside of Auckland… there was a major storm here which wiped out power to massive amounts of people for a long time.

Shortland Street studios fell victim to the storm and had no power; no power, no work. What a first day!