Local fans still love Shortland StreetSave
By Georgina Harris
Murupara's Carolyn Meihana has religiously watched Shortland Street since it began 25 years ago - and as her husband isn't a fan she even has her own TV to view it on.
"I still enjoy it. I love supporting our New Zealand show. It's a good New Zealand drama."
The country's longest-running soap, Shortland Street's 25th anniversary episode will screen this Thursday, with familiar characters returning, deaths promised but most details kept under wraps.
The medical drama first screened on May 25, 1992, with the now famous line "You're not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata" being said to Rotorua's own Temuera Morrison.
Morrison is currently on the Gold Coast filming two feature films, so was unable to be reached for comment.
Other local actors to have appeared on the soap include Miriama Smith, Semu Filipo, Helen Corry and Douglas McCaulay.
Mrs Meihana, 56, said she thought the acting and writing had improved over the years.
"I really love their storylines and how they get close to people's hearts. They try and teach and educate, and the storylines follow issues in the community, such as suicide or having a transgender character ... they try and get a message out there."
Mrs Meihana said she would love to go and see the set, and would jump at the chance to be an extra on the show.
Two of her most memorable storylines were when Sarah Potts (Amanda Billing) died from multiple sclerosis after saying a teary farewell to TK Samuels (Benjamin Mitchell) and daughter Tillie, and the Christmas cliffhanger LPG gas cylinder explosion episode.
Mrs Meihana's six moko, aged between 9 and 17, discuss the show with her, take bets on what will happen with the script and plan out what they would do themselves if they were the writers.
She said she has had "quite a few" favourite characters over the years but standouts were doctor Chris Warner (Michael Galvin) and Leanne Black (Jennifer Ludlam), mother of bisexual character Nicole Miller (Sally Martin).
Rotorua has also played a role in the soap, with several scenes of Shortland Street shot at locations including Skyline Skyrides, Te Puia and the Royal Lakeside Novotel in 2006.
Numerous Rotorua extras featured in the episodes providing essential background as conference delegates, tourists and other travellers.
Currently studying in Wellington, Rotorua's Hugh McGuire, 25, said he decided to start watching the show at 17 to see how Kiwis represented their own acting and culture.
This led to being an avid fan for six years.
"I like to see New Zealand programmes on TV."
His favourite characters included "heart throb" Chris Warner, Nick Harrison (Karl Burnett) and Waverley Harrison (Claire Chitham).
While Mr McGuire said he stopped watching the show two years ago as he didn't like the way the production and storylines were going, he was excited to watch the 25th anniversary episode.
"I'm looking forward to it. I've got no plan to return to watching Shortland Street but it will be nice to catch up with old favourite characters."
He said he had been following the tweets and media coverage of the upcoming episode and knew there would be character deaths, but would "hate to see Chris Warner killed off".
Mr McGuire, and many around New Zealand, will have to wait and see what unfolds on Thursday night.