Ahikāroa actor Turia Schmidt-Peke wins best actress award

By Marena Mane

Turia Schmidt-Peke, nō Pare Hauraki, Ngāti Tama-te-rā, Pare Waikato, Ngāti Hauā, and Ngāti Hāmoa, says she arrived late to the Zoom NZ Web fest 2021, awards and so didn't realise she had won the best actress award, which had already been announced.

“I wasn't sure what was happening and I asked them what's going on and he told me … I was mostly just proud of our team of Ahikāroa because it's all a team effort,” she says.

Kura Productions' Ahikāroa received numerous honours in the New Zealand narrative, including best show and best ensemble, while Schmidt-Peke won best actress also for Ahikāroa.

Schmidt-Peke says she had her little sister Metotagivale and elder sister Faye in her lockdown bubble while watching the awards online and that they are both extremely proud of her.

“I actually didn't really tell too many people about the awards because I didn't think I would win.”

Schmidt-Peke congratulated Dahnu Graham and Lionel Wellington, who also had won best actor for their roles in the TV series Kura and are both graduates of Te Aho Matua (Māori philosophy) and kura kaupapa Māori (Total immersion Māori school).

“I think we're most proud of the efforts that are happening for kura kaupapa Māori graduates.”

Accepting that her character does not represent who she is as a person has been the most difficult aspect of portraying her character, according to Schmidt-Peke.

“It's just learning to accept that I'm here to do a job. I'm here to portray this person as best as I can and I'm still learning as I go.”

She says, as a kura kaupapa graduate, her role on Ahikāroa allows her to normalise Te Reo Māori on the screen, not only nationally throughout Aotearoa but internationally as well.

“So I'm happy to be a part of that and hoping to do more.”

Schmidt-Peke says she was fortunate enough to secure a role on Shortland Street, which will premiere as a web series in January of next year.

“I'm looking forward to that coming out because a lot of Māori actors are on that Shortland Street web series so I'm very excited for that to come out and for people to see me playing a different character.”

Schmidt-Peke says she hopes to cast in more Māori storytelling productions, and because of her Samoan heritage, she also wants to work on Pasifika productions to further grow her acting career.

“I'm really enjoying Panthers and Teine Sā who is also in the same categories as us. I'm really loving all the stuff that's coming out of indigenous people and Polynesian peoples … I'd love to be a part of that.”