Billionaire Oprah Winfrey has been described as being like “an aunty on the marae” after she was seen setting up and wiping the dinner tables for a New Zealand film crew.
In 2017, the media queen was in the South Island to star in the Disney film A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay.
Talking about Oprah, Awarau says "She's probably the idol for me, when I was little growing up in Hāwera I used to race home and tape Oprah shows and used to watch them religiously, so she was a big part of why I became a journalist."
Both women granted Māori Television an exclusive New Zealand TV interview during their visit. Aroha Awarau, associate producer for the current affairs show Native Affairs, told Kawe Korero Reporters he went to search for Winfrey to say goodbye, after spending the day on set. He found her in the tent, setting up for dinner and wiping the tables.
“She reminded me of an aunty on the marae, at the back of the kitchen, helping out. That’s Oprah to a tee,” he says.
"What I loved about Oprah, she was very conscious of the Māori culture, she spoke about how she loved the pōwhiri, she loved the way that Māori are and she spent the time to make sure that she pronounced my name properly and pronounce Māori words like 'kia ora' correctly.
Awarau fulfilled a lifelong goal by securing an interview with his journalism hero for Native Affairs. He says during their chat, Winfrey calmed his nerves.
“Looking into her big brown eyes helped me to be grounded and allowed me to get through the interview”.