Home and Away welcomes some new faces this week, as we say “Kia ora koutou” to the Paratas, a Māori whānau who are looking to make a new beginning in Summer Bay.
Like a lot of newcomers though, they come with their own secrets, and their introduction to Summer Bay is set to be anything but smooth…
Here we introduce the Parata family (Parata is a transliteration of “brothers” in Māori) and the cast members behind them.
Ariki Wiremu Parata (Rob Kipa-Williams)
We first met Ari during the siege at Northern Districts Hospital in the 2019 season finale episodes. Ari was there after having an accident whilst working on a construction site, and comforted a panicked Marilyn (Emily Symons) as gunmen held them hostage.
Together with Mason Morgan, Ari concocted a scheme to free some of the hostages whilst distracting the gunmen. Whilst Ari was able to lead half a dozen people to safety, Mason (Orpheus Pledger) was killed by the gunmen.
After receiving treatment from the ambos outside, Ari made a quick getaway when his sister-in-law Gemma arrived, not wanting any media attention.
Ari, alongside Gemma and her son Nikau, has moved to Summer Bay for a fresh start. Having spent time in prison, Ari and the family have been moving from town to town trying to escape their past, but always end up having to move on when the truth comes out.
It isn’t long before Ari is recognised by Dean Thompson (Patrick O’Connor), who spent time in the same prison, but Ari threatens him to keep his mouth shut. When he finds himself reunited with Marilyn, he again helps her when she has a panic attack in the diner.
Marilyn feels hugely indebted to Ari after what they’ve been though, and will go on to try and help the Paratas as much as she can, though at what cost?
Ari is fiercely protective of his family, but largely out of his depth at being thrust into the patriarch role. He has a strained relationship with nephew Nikau, who blames Ari for the situation they’ve found themselves in.
“He has made some strong choices but he is a little bit lost and I think that’s nice because I’ve been lost and I think a lot of people are lost,” Rob says of his character. “He doesn’t know how to deal with confrontation or his emotions, but he knows what he wants and doesn’t want anymore and he wants to change his path.”
Appropriately enough, the Māori name Ariki means “High Chief”. Ari’s middle name, Wiremu, is the Māori equivalent of William.
Rob Kipa-Williams was born in Napier, New Zealand and is descended from the Māori iwi of Ngāti Maru in Thames and Ngāti Raukawa, as well as having Scottish and Irish roots. He is perhaps best known for his role of Zac on the Australian/New Zealand co-produced series 800 Words.
Rob had all but quit acting to find a more stable career when he was offered the role on Home and Away, signing a three-year contract with the show.
Rob has praised the show for their collaboration with both the actors and te reo Māori experts Scotty & Stacey Morrison when it comes to writing for the Parata family.
“It’s been really great that the production’s allowed us to do that,” he told Stuff NZ. “We’ve worked pretty hard to bring the family to life and reflect our culture the best that we can with the tools that we have.“
Ari Parata made his debut in Episode 7269 (5th March)
Gemma Parata (Bree Peters)
Recently widowed Gemma was married to Ari and Tane’s eldest brother, Mikaere Parata.
Although Mikaere was the love of her life, it soon becomes clear that he was involved in criminal activity, when we learn that his death was the result of a botched armed robbery which also claimed the life of an innocent bystander.
Gemma and Ari are determined to steer Nikau away from any temptation to follow in his father’s footsteps.
With Ari unable to work due to his injury, the onus is on Gemma to seek employment on their arrival in the bay. With Marilyn’s assistance, Gemma is able to pick up some shifts at the diner, though even this is not enough to keep the family above the breadline as they struggle to pay their motel fees.
A Ngāpuhi/Ngāti Wai iwi descendant, Bree Peters grew up in the beach city of Tauranga on New Zealand’s north island, and is the daughter of Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. With a huge host of stage and screen roles under her belt, she is best known for her role as the villainous Pania Stevens on the Kiwi soap Shortland Street.
“I think when we started this show, the writers and creators of the show didn’t really have a huge idea of what Māori could bring,” Bree told Māori Television. “They have an idea in Australia of all our best bits but there are other little bits that we bring that are authentically us. So they were really open to us bring as much of our culture as we can and the authenticity, so we brought a few of those things in.”
“It has been a bit of working on that communication to get things right, to make things authentic,” Bree added. “To have it not just be a new family for the sake of it but a new family that has authenticity and that can be recognised by Māori, Pacific Islanders, other minorities.”
Gemma Parata will make her UK debut in Episode 7271 (9th March)
Nikau Parata (Kawakawa Fox-Reo)
Amongst the constant uprooting and moving from town to town, 20-year-old Nikau is still struggling to come to terms with the death of his father as he arrives in Summer Bay with mum Gemma and Uncle Ari.
Nikau resents his uncle’s attempts to take on the patriarch role in the family, feeling he’s responsible for the situation they’re in, and doesn’t appreciate Ari’s pressuring him to make life choices.
“He’s got a strong relationship with his mum and he is very much a family orientated guy,” Kawakawa says of his character.
“You’ll definitely see my character stir up trouble around Summer Bay,” he continued. “When things are not going his way, he responds in a way that’s self-sabotaging.”
Indeed we first meet Nikau when he comes across a tense encounter between Ryder (Lukas Radovich) and Jade (Mia Morrissey) on the beach, where Jade manipulates the situation so that Nikau believes he is saving Jade from being harrassed.
Nikau continues getting closer to Jade as she reels him in with her web of lies, but when Ryder attempts to warn Nikau of Jade’s character, Ryder gets a punch to the face.
Despite this shaky start, what comes next will see Nikau firmly ingratiate himself to the Stewart family.
Knowing the family’s struggle, Roo is able to offer Nikau some part-time work at the bait shop whilst Alf is away.
One of the top Māori names in New Zealand, Nikau is the general word used for “palm tree”.
22 year old Kawakawa Fox-Reo was born in Wellington, New Zealand and grew up in Hawke’s Bay on the north island. He is part of the Ngāti Kahungunu iwi, and also descended from the Ngāi Tahu, Taranaki and Ngāti Rangi tribes.
Known for his roles in 2121, Wellington Paranormal, and The Super Galactic Space Cadets, Kawakawa had recently auditioned for and been accepted at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles, but gave up his place when he was offered the role of Nikau three months later.
The portrayal of the Māori culture has been of huge importance to Kawakawa also. “It’s been such a huge weight on my mind during shooting,” he told Stuff NZ. “I really hope that when people watch it back home that they’re proud, not ashamed; that they don’t see something that’s not done properly or doesn’t make sense to them.
“I’ve done my absolute best to be as authentic as possible, with the cultural material that’s in the script. It’s a big deal to me.“
Nikau Parata will make his UK debut in Episode 7274 (12th March)
Tane Parata (Ethan Browne)
Tane is Ari’s younger brother and Nikau’s uncle. Not much is yet known about Tane other than the fact he’s had a falling out with Ari and has become something of an outcast in the family.
His method of earning money isn’t exactly legitimate, and Ari wants to distance himself, and Nikau, from that lifestyle.
“Tane is cheeky and loves to have fun,” Ethan Browne shares. “He tends to joke around a bit with his family, particularly his older brother. He’s a free spirit and usually rebels against anyone trying to tell him what to do. He may come off as mischievous and at times cocky, but deep down he just wants to take care of his family in his own way.”
We see Nikau call Tane soon after his arrival in the bay to tell him that he misses him, and to have a moan about Ari constantly being on his case.
Although seen on occasion over the next few weeks, Tane will be properly introduced in episodes set to air in the UK in mid-May when Nikau asks him to come to Summer Bay.
The name Tāne (prounounced tah-nay) literally means “man”, and is also the name given to the Māori/Polynesian God of the Forest.
Like his co-star Kawakawa, newcomer Ethan Browne grew up in New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay region. His childhood interest in Martial Arts movies ignited his passion for both Taekwondo (he is a black belt) and for acting, the latter of which he eventually took up after moving to Brisbane in 2015.
Less than a year later, Ethan auditioned and won a place at the prestigious National Institute for Dramatic Arts (NIDA) in Sydney.
In 2019, six months before he was due to graduate, Ethan got the call to audition for Home and Away. He ultimately won the part and signed a three-year contract with the show, with filming commencing a month before his graduation took place.
Tane Parata will make brief appearances starting in Episode 7281 (23rd March) in the UK, before arriving fully in Episodes 7321-7325 (18th-22nd May).
Here’s a full rundown and video slideshow of this week’s episode spoilers:
Monday 9th March – 2020 Season Premiere
Colby and Dean go rogue to try and save the hostages. Can Robbo convince Scott to spare his life and save Jasmine?
Tuesday 10th March
Heartache and grief overwhelm the community in the aftermath of the hospital siege. Marilyn is traumatised after witnessing Mason’s murder. Robbo is rushed into surgery.
Wednesday 11th March
Jasmine’s world comes crashing down when Colby gives her devastating news. Alf’s attempt to create a moment of joy with Martha backfires. Colby does his best to honour Robbo’s dying wish.
Thursday 12th March
Roo helps Alf and Martha through their miscommunication. Ryder’s attempts to warn Nikau about Jade fail. Maggie looks to help others anyway she can.
Friday 13th March
Marilyn attempts to cover her trauma and focus on helping the Paratas. Tori’s heartbroken when Justin shares more bad news. The Stewarts rally around Ryder to support him in his case against Jade. Alf and Martha have exciting news.