Lindisfarne Old Boy, Kawakawa Fox-Reo, has had not one, but two, big breaks in the entertainment world in the last few years. He stars in the Maori supernatural drama, “The Deadlands” which was released on TVNZ On Demand and American streaming service Shudder but he has also landed a great role in the long-running Australian series “Home and Away”.
He plays Nikau, the youngest member of the Parata family who were introduced to the series in 2020 and became the first Maori family to have a major part in the show. Kawakawa’a character, Nikau seems set to become more central as the series progresses as he has recently found out about Colby’s role in Ross Nixon’s murder!
Kawakawa had his very first opportunity on stage at Lindisfarne College when he played Jesus in the production of Godspell, a role he had to be persuaded into by drama teacher Mrs Kathy Atkin. Despite his initial reluctance, Kawakawa gave a wonderful performance and was inspired by this experience to apply to study at Toi Whakaari. While studying, he took the lead role of Daniel Beauxhomme in Once On This Island. Kawakawa’s screen credits include short films Biggie & Shrimp, Krystal, Inside The Cloud and Christmas Eve 1944.
Kawakawa’s first big break in the eight-part series, Deadlands was an important one for him for several reasons:
"I felt very lucky to be part of that. It was very special. It's awesome for our culture as well I guess. I'm really looking forward to seeing how the world perceives the kind of stories that we have to offer as Māori. They're quite cool, I reckon. I've tried my best integrate as much of what I can - how I grew up and how we treat each other as family and how we treat each other as friends - into this character," he says. I hope people watch it back home and see something that's familiar, something that they can laugh with, cry with. Hopefully, fingers crossed."
Family and community have always been important to Kawakawa as he recalls, "I was also lucky enough to spend lots of time in Paki Paki which is pretty much my turangawaewae with Ngāti Kahungunu which is the iwi and community that I constantly go back to.”
Now that he is based in Sydney, Kawakawa is having to take on the challenges of a big city. He compares it to his role as Nikau,
“It comes with lots of challenges and it's definitely been a journey trying to figure out for myself how to be the best Kawa in this environment but it's also the same for Nikau.”
Despite all these new challenges, Kawakawa seems certain to make his mark as a Kiwi actor.
Article added: Thursday 05 November 2020