Oscar Kightley, MNZN

Oscar Kightley, MNZN


Apia, Samoa

Birth Name

Vai Osa To'elau Mase


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Oscar Kightley was born in Samoa and immigrated to New Zealand with his mother when he was four years old. Oscar first recognized his ability to make people laugh when he was a school boy, and at Rutherford High, he developed his skills in humor and English (but…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • In 2008, Oscar was awarded a Sir Peter Blake Trust Emerging Leader Award.

    • In 2007, Oscar was appointed to the Council of Creative New Zealand.

    • Oscar is represented professionally as an MC by the firm Celebrity Speakers.

    • After the 2009 tsunami hit his home country of Samoa, Oscar donated his time to MC for a benefit concert which included the musical acts Neil and Tim Finn, Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga, Savage, Scribe, Hollie Smith, Elemeno P, Nesian Mystik and the Opensouls.

    • When asked what living person he'd most like to meet, Oscar's answer was Muhammad Ali. He says of the boxer, "He is a flawed human being but in his time, as a man with colored skin, he was at the top of the world and he came to mean so much to people in countries where they don't have too many heroes."

    • In 1998 Oscar won the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award for his first play Dawn Raids.

    • Oscar was a journalist before becoming an actor, interning for the The Auckland Star, and later spent four years writing for that paper and the Sunday Star-Times.

    • Oscar moved from Samoa to New Zealand at the age of four after his father passed away. He Lived in West Auckland suburb of Te Atatu with his an Aunt and Uncle as one of eight children.

    • In 2006, Oscar received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award.

    • Oscar was born in 1969.

    • In December of 2008, Oscar became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, awarded by Queen Elizabeth.

  • Quotes

    • Oscar: My motto is 'strive'. It's English for Tohea- the motto of my high school, Rutherford, in Te Atatu North. It is taken from a Maori proverb that means something like 'strive as you would strive for food when you're hungry.' Hunger's the best motivation. Once you're not hungry, everything else you can do is a bonus.

    • Oscar: (when asked what his favorite word is) Dawn. Because it signals so much hope and it always comes around after the dark. My least favorite would be 'deadline'.

    • Oscar: (on starring on the new cop drama Harry) Comedy is the truth in disguise. Drama is just the truth. Comedy lets you take the piss out of real-life moments. Drama - you have to feel it and dwell in it, which I found quite challenging. The reason I do comedy is that I find it hard to take things seriously. I'm always looking for ways to make light of things.

    • (on writing his character for the movie Sione's Wedding) If I knew I would be playing him I would have made Albert much cooler. I would definitely have given him better clothes.

    • Oscar: (on writing for the soap Shortland Street) The impact it had on my career was huge. It gave me the discipline of writing stories and helped so much in the mechanics of writing 30-minute episodes. There are no schools that teach you those skills.

    • Oscar: (on being a part of the Pacific Underground theatre company) We tried to make serious stuff but it came out funny.

    • Oscar: When I was 15, I flippantly wrote in a girl's friendship book at school that my ambition was to bring joy and pleasure to others and to have fun while doing it. Freakily that principle has been at the core of everything I have been lucky enough to be involved with. It's hard to think about what I do as being work, especially when I get to do it with my best mates.