Home and Away‘s Bree Peters has today taken to social media, following the apparent departure of Gemma Parata from the series after six months.
Wednesday’s Australian episode saw the Parata family attempt to board a flight to New Zealand, in order to return the ashes of Gemma’s late husband Mikaere to his homeland as the one-year anniversary of his death approached.
With Gemma recently stating that her grandmother had told her that a loved one’s spirit is released to their ancestors a year after their death, Gemma was keen to return Mikaere to his family so he could find peace— in the hope that it would also bring peace to the family as a whole following a turbulent few months in Summer Bay.
However they hadn’t factored in local copper Colby Thorne (Tim Franklin), who raced to put a travel ban on Ari (Rob Kipa-Williams), Nikau (Kawakawa Fox-Reo) and Tane (Ethan Browne) after learning of their plans.
With Colby already determined to prove that one or more of the Parata men had been involved in the Diner break-in, Nikau panicked and brought the family under further suspicion last week, when he attempted to leave the bay by stealing Tori’s car, not realising baby Grace was in the back.
As the family arrived at Sydney airport in Wednesday’s episode, Gemma was waved through customs, but the three men were all told that they could not travel.
As a tearful Gemma attempted to backtrack through the barrier in order to reunite with her family, security held her back, and she was forced to travel to New Zealand alone.
Back in Summer Bay, a smug Colby visited the Parata house confirming that the three men were not allowed to leave the state.
Ari charged at Colby as he gloated, but was held back by Tane before he was able to make things even worse.
The Parata men were left devastated as they reflected on everything that happened, as Nik locked himself away in his room, Tane took to his punching bag, and Ari drowned his sorrows at Salt.
Seemingly confirming that Gemma’s departure from Summer Bay would in fact be permanent for the moment, Bree Peters posted on Instagram thanking show producer Lucy Addario, and script executive Louise Bowes.
🛫✈️ leaving in a jet plane…dunno when I’ll be back again …. but thank you x thank you @lucyaddario @louise.bowes for helping bring faces like mine to HA. Thank you to all those who support and facilitate diversity with courage, nerve and commitment. More.More.More.🤎
Bree continued by thanking Stacey Morrison, who has been working with the show as a Māori cultural advisor, and asked her to look after Gemma’s boys.
Bree’s co-stars have also paid tribute to the actress.
Ethan Browne (Tane) shared one of the family’s first publicity photos as he expressed his gratitude:
Our Parata kuini, our matriarch…
Nothing but deep gratitude and pure Aroha for you, e hoa! Stay cheeky 😝 , thank you for continually sharing your light and knowledge with us all @breepetersnz , you’re bloody awesome! ☺️🤙🏽❤️
Kawakawa Fox-Reo posted the following as he paid tribute to his on-screen mum:
Thank you for holding my hand.
Thank you for challenging me to dig deeper into myself .
Thank you for setting a massive standard to strive for.
Thank you for being patient with me even when I was unprepared .
Thank you for making authenticity a priority.
Blessed indeed to have the opportunity to play your son .
You the bomb oi
The first member of the Parata whānau to appear on-screen, Rob Kipa-Williams, also shared his own tribute:
Other cast members have also responded to Bree’s departure in the comments, with Penny McNamee (Tori) saying:
A beautiful beautiful actress. It’s been a joy to watch your performance every night Bree. ❤️Xxx
Whilst Lynne McGranger (Irene) kept it short and simple:
She da bomb ❤️🙏🙌🏼💕
With the exit largely unexpected, Home and Away viewers have also spoken of their disappointment of the latest development.
BTTB forum member ‘jakeyy’ said:
I feel like Gemma has so much more potential. There is so much to explore with her I believe. She better come back soon.
Whilst fellow member ‘christine king’ added
If that was Gemma’s last episode that it’s really disappointing and sad out of the 4 of them, Gemma is my favourite.
Many fans also commented on the various cast Instagram posts in response to the episode.
Commenting on Bree’s post, fan Laura exclaimed:
What you’re leaving already?! That’s honestly heartbreaking 😭
Fellow fan Annie added:
Oh I didn’t know you were leaving😢 Tonight’s episode was so sad. You guys were all so happy and the scene when you were separated absolutely broke my heart into a million pieces. I’m going to miss seeing you as Gemma Parata on Home and Away but know you’ve got many things to look forward to in the future. Thank you for bringing your amazing talent, spiritual culture and gorgeous looks into Home and Away. I’ll miss you @breepetersnz Much love ❤️😘💜
In a comment on Kawa’s post, Home and Away viewer Renee spoke of Nikau and Gemma’s relationship, which has also been one of our highlights:
I love your mother son relationship on screen, its beautiful and it comes off so real. The scene tonight was beautiful, sad and amazing acting, it made me teary. I love watching the both of you on screen, I smile and laugh. I’m looking forward to watching and seeing what happens next. I love that you all are family off screen. Very sweet words 💕
Whilst fan Shell also agreed that the loss of the show’s only mother/son pairing would be missed:
Such a shame for this amazing woman to be leaving H&A. Your relationship with your on screen Mumma has been a joy to watch. A reminder to us Mums who raise their son’s how important love, honesty & open communication is. I will miss the humour your relationship brought to our screen. A touch of home on the screens in Oz has been a blessing.
Although a departure for Gemma had not been publicised, it hasn’t been wholly unexpected, and we speculated as such in our preview article for this week’s episodes.
Bree has not been seen on set since last year, and pre-lockdown had been spending a couple of months working with the Pop-up Globe theatre company back in New Zealand, starring in their adaptation of the Morgan Lloyd Malcolm play Emilia.
Whilst there were mentions of both Rob and Ethan having signed three year contracts with the show, there had been no such confirmation of Bree doing the same.
The final clue we pointed out was the fact that Gemma didn’t seem to have a bedroom on the new Parata House set!
Although we have clearly seen individual bedrooms for each of the men, alongside a bathroom, the mysterious fourth bedroom has never been seen—with not even a door visible.
The reason for Gemma not returning to Summer Bay to be with her family remains to be seen, but we hope a future return could be on the cards—and that John Palmer’s recent observation of “déjà Braxton” doesn’t become a common concern amongst viewers, given the rather familiar dynamic we’re left with.
In the meantime, viewers will see the Parata men pay their own very special tribute to Mikaere in Thursday night’s episode.