Amber Curreen was just 16-years-old when she played teenager Shannon Te Ngaru on Shortland Street. She was discovered after her performance in a local dance group caught the producer's eye. Her character was originally a short-term role, but the producers were so impressed with her that she stayed on the show for five years.
For 25 years, Aotearoa's most beloved soap opera Shortland Street has thrilled us with its drama, love triangles and cliffhangers.
This week Native Affairs was on the set to help celebrate its milestone birthday, with the past and present Māori actors who have made their mark on the show.
“I think I was here in a very fortunate time of Shortland Street, says Amber. “We had such amazing things happen, like the first Māori family and a lot of reo being spoken on the show,” she says.
One of the show’s much-loved characters was ambulance driver Rangi Heremaia who was played by Blair Strang from 1995 to 2001. Although Rangi had a string of affairs, the most controversial storyline was when he ended up falling in love with Donna Heka. The pair found out later that they were brother and sister.
“I can assure you that going back home to my marae, it made for an interesting conversation around the dinner table,” Strang laughs.
Current cast members Ben Mitchell and Jarod Rawiri who play Dr TK Samuels and Mo Hannah say former Shortland Street actors such as Temuera Morrison and Nancy Bruning left a lasting legacy.,
Mitchell says: “Being Māori there’s a sense of support, tautoko, when someone comes along there’s a manuhiritanga, powhiritanga, manaakitanga all those kind of practices come through naturally.”