George Henare, OBE, CNZM

George Henare, OBE, CNZM


Whakaangiangi, New Zealand

Birth Name

George Winiata Henare


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Henare became involved in theatre when he was in his late teens, after brief stints as a postman and teacher. He sang in the New Zealand Opera Company chorus in productions such as "Porgy and Bess" and "The Mikado". His singing wasn't his greatest asset, but his acting…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • In 2009, George won an Arts Foundation Laureate Award.

    • In 2010, George was nominated for "Best Actor" fr his role of Lee Kaa on the show Kaitangata Twitch at the Qantas Film and Television Awards.

    • George's theatre credits include:
      (2013) Anne Boleyn "Cecil/Countryman/Courtier", ATC, dir. Colin McColl
      (2012) Educating Rita "Dr Frank Bryant", New Market Stage Company, dir. Adey Ramsel
      (2012) Death of a Salesman "Willie Loman", Peach Theatre Company, dir. Jesse Peach
      (2012) You Can Always Hand Them Back "Maurice", Centrepoint Palmerston-North, dir. Jeff Kingsford-Brown
      (2012) Awatea "Werihe", ATC, dir. Colin McColl
      (2011) Othello "Brabantio", Peach Theatre Company, dir. Jesse Peach
      (2011) Mary Stuart "Ambassador Aubespine", Auckland Theatre Company, dir. Colin McColl
      (2010) The King and I "The King", Melbourne Production
      (2009) Four Flat White, Auckland Theatre Company, dir. Janice Finn
      (2008) - The Three Cornered Hat, Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra
      (2008) La Cage Aux Folles leading role, Court Theatre, dir. Sandra Rasmussen
      (2007) Heroes "Henri", Circa Theatre, dir. Ross Jolly
      (2007) Who Wants to be 100? "Alan", Auckland Theatre Co, dir. Alison Quigan
      (2007) The Crucible "Giles Corey", Auckland Theatre Co, dir. Colin McColl
      (2007) Urinetown "Caldwell B Cladwell", Downstage Theatre, dir. Cathy Downes
      (2006) Twelfth Night "Sir Toby Belch", Auckland Theatre Company, dir. Michael Hurst
      (2006) A Matter of Life and Death "Narrator", Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Maestro Milanov
      (2006) Dracula "Dracula", Downstage Theatre, dir. Cathy Downes
      (2005) Oliver the Musical "Fa-gin" Christchurch Court Theatre, dir. Cathy Downes
      (2005) Death of a Salesman "Willy Loman", Circa Theatre, dir. Susan Wilson
      (2005) The Rocky Horror Picture Show "Frankfurter", Christchurch Court Theatre, dir. Cathy Downes
      (2005) The Hobbit "Narrator", ICA Australia, dir. Christine Anketell
      (2004) I'm Not a Rappaport "Midge", Sydney, Ensemble Theatre, dir. Andrew Doyle
      (2004) Goldie- The Man Behind the Faces, "Patara Te Tuhi", Auckland Theatre Company, dir. Colin McColl

    • George became involved in theatre after working as a postman and a teacher. He abandoned his teaching career after a successful audition with the New Zealand Opera Company, which kickstarted his prolific career on stage.

    • George grew up as the third youngest in a family of ten children. Until the age of twelve he lived on a farm on the East Coast of the North Island.

    • In 2004, George narrated the radio drama Michael King's Penguin History of N.Z..

    • In 2008, George was recognized at the Te Tohu Toi Ke Awards for his outstanding contribution to Maori theatre. Te Tohu Toi Ke recognises individuals who makes an important advance in the development and retention of Maori arts and culture through their chosen art forms.

    • George is part of a gospel trio called Blowing in the Wind, and has appeared with them on the radio and television.

    • In 2000, George won "Best Actor" at the NZAFTA Awards for Nga Tohu Signatures.

    • In 1994, George won "Best Theatrical Performance" at the Entertainer of the Year Awards for his role in Jesus Christ Superstar.

    • George is extremely accomplished with accents, and can act using American Standard, Australian, Bronx, English, French, Indian, Irish, Latino, Maori, Russian, Scottish, and Welsh.

    • In 2004, George narrated the audio book The Sky Dancer for the Royal NZ Foundation of the Blind.

    • George sings on the album "Maori Songs" of internationally known diva Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

    • In 2003, George was picked as the "Best Actor of the Year, Christchurch" by the New Zealand Listener magazine.

    • George won the Narrator Award presented by The New Zealand Foundation of the Blind in 2001 and 1992.

    • George was the narrator of a $10 million dollar stage production of The Hobbit that was meant to have an extensive New Zealand and Australian tour, but after the show got poor reviews in Wellington, they cancelled the New Zealand leg of the tour, though they did continue on to Australia as planned.

    • George is trained in ballroom dancing, Maori and tap.

    • George enjoys the sports horseback riding, squash, tennis, yoga, and in particular swimming and cricket.

    • In 2006, George won "Best Actor" at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for the play Death of a Salesman.

    • George is a member of the Actors Equity New Zealand, M.E.A.A.

    • George has extensive training on musical theatre, sings baritone, and plays the guitar, and piano/ketboards. He sings in both operatic and musical theatre styles.

    • In 1988, George was awarded the Order of the British Empire for Services to the Acting Industry. And in 2009 he was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for Services to Theatre.

    • George is 5'9 2/3", with silver hair and brown eyes.

    • George is represented professionally by the Robert Bruce Agency (NZ) and Stacey Testro International (Sydney).

  • Quotes

    • George: Actors tend to throw themselves into any situation deeper than other people, to analyse each experience.

    • George: Because my career is all about human behaviour and interaction, it is for me an endless journey of discovery, fascination and enlightenment, a journey I hope to continue on until that 'other' big spotlight shows the way to another dimension.

    • George: I know there are a lot of Maori who want to go straight into television and be famous. I ran into one guy and he said, 'I want to be where you are now, I don't want to go through all that theatre nonsense.' It's taken me years to get where I am today. There are human psychological things you have to go through- it's life, and a 19-year-old can't say, 'This is life'. It's hopeless. Some can fluke it if you've got the right look, but it will show up somewhere along the line and you'll get caught out.

    • George: I love to show off and all that adulation, but you get over that. You get to a stage when you appreciate the clapping but for different reasons. They've enjoyed your work and you've made a difference to somebody.

    • George: Yeah, when Americans come to shoot things about Maori or Polynesians, they have this wonderful view that everyone hugs each other and says, 'Good morning father, how are you father', when that's got nothing to do with reality. They should go and sit in a house and watch people. But no, if the American population is going to watch it, we must do it their way, and if they're going to pay that much money, I'll do it. I don't approve, but that's the sort of thing that goes on.

    • George: When I started off it was all that very standard English accent, very neutral. You had to achieve that to go across a wide range and do the Shakespeare and English plays. The people who were writing back then were Pakeha (white European), like James Ritchie, but what's so good now is that Maori are writing for Maori.

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