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From Haka to Hollywood: Book review

From Haka to Hollywood
By Temuera Morrison and Paul Little

Reviewed by's Steph Zajkowski

In a day and age where 16 year olds can pop out their "memoirs", it seems strange that no-one has thought to bring us the life story of one of New Zealand's most successful sons before now.

Luckily, household name Temuera Morrison has released his engaging and very readable memoir - just in time for the festive season, and I can see this book tucked into many a Christmas stocking.

Morrison opens with his humble, yet supportive and loving childhood. The much anticipated "first born son" (but fifth child after four daughters), he was the apple of his parents' eye.

Following his father's tragic death when Temuera was just 14, he chanelled his talent for performing through kapa haka.

It's apparent that being part of an "entertainer's" family (he is the nephew of the late Sir Howard Morrison), his participation in cultural life and performing were pre-ordained.

A small speech at the end of a local kapa haka performance (which should have been delivered by one of his cousins) saw him catch the attention of film director Michael Forlong.

After his first role in Rangi's Catch at age 12, it took him several more years to work out where his true calling lay.

Fast forward to 1993, when Morrison came to national prominence in a fledgling soap called Shortland Street .

The story of his whirlwind journey from the Street to an international career starring with Hollywood's movie elite is an exhilarating ride.

The overwhelming impression one gets from Morrison is that he was swept up on the coat tails of something bigger than himself and went along for the journey.

In some respects, good luck rather than good planning seems to have been the secret of his success.

Morrison comes across as a down to earth guy who is grateful for all his opportunities. The tone of the book is very breezy, yet there are some thoughtful insights into his world.

He talks in depth about creating the infamous character of  Jake the Muss, spills the beans on what Pammy Anderson is really like, shares the acting advice that Harrison Ford gave him, and revels in Marlon Brando's behaviour on set.

The final chapter touches on his relationships (past and present) and his children.

The photographs of Temuera over the years provide an additional chronology of his life and career.

Temuera Morrison is a bona fide Kiwi success story and you can't take that away from him. At least he's actually had a life worth writing about.

Rating: 7/10

Title: From Haka to Hollywood
Author:  Temuera Morrison and Paul Little
RRP: $40.00 
Available:  Now 
Publisher: Penguin NZ

Thanks to our generous friends at Penguin NZ we have five copies of From Haka to Hollywood to give away. Click here to win a copy.