Rima Te Wiata

Ngāti Raukawa

Rima Te Wiata was educated at Epsom Girls’ Grammar in Auckland. When she left school she worked as a dental assistant. She worked for two years at Auckland’s Mercury Theatre as a trainee actor and stage manager. In 1984 she graduated from the New Zealand Drama School. At the age of seventeen, Rima obtained her first professional role which was as the adolescent Sandy in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at Auckland’s Mercury Theatre. For the next two months, she appeared in a variety of roles at that theatre under the artistic direction of Jonathan Hardy and Simon Phillips. Rima received formal training at the New Zealand Drama School in 1982 and on graduating in 1984 she immediately embarked on a six-month national tour with Footrot Flats as Aunt Dolly. This was followed by her taking the role of Hallelujah Lil in the Brecht/Weill Musical Happy End at Wellington’s Downstage, for which she received outstanding critical acclaim. One of her later roles was Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors at the same theatre. She has appeared in three short films and three feature films, including Hinekaro, a short film adapted from a story by Keri Hulme.

Crossing the Tasman in 1985, Rima appeared in her first television role as Janice in the popular soap Sons and Daughters. She returned to Wellington in 1987 to pursue her television career in the gritty police drama Shark in the Park. In 1990 her comic abilities came to the fore in the comedy series Issues. In 1992 Rima released her debut album of jazz/swing songs for Sony music. She was then invited to join the top rating Australian comedy series Full Frontal in which her astonishing vocal range was utilised to full effect in her impersonations of singers and well-known personalities. Rima returned to New Zealand for a national tour of 11 concerts with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Three of these concerts were in large outdoor venues; she sang as soloist in the BP Summer Pops 1995 season. She then went straight into the challenging role of Maggie the Cat in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Court Theatre. This was followed by John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger in which she played Helena. She took the lead role of Amalia in the Australasian premier of She Loves Me, a musical by Bock and Harnick.

On her return to Auckland, Rima devised and performed a solo show of Brecht/Weill songs and then played Beatrice-Joanna in the Jacobean masterpiece The Changeling at the Watershed Theatre. Following this, she played Buttercup in a national New Zealand tour of the irreverent production of H.M.S. Pinafore. In January 1998 Rima completed another tour with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra BP Pops programme as their soloist. She received high acclaim for her performances in the film Via Satellite by Anthony McCarten, and as Sally Bowles in Cabaret at Downstage Theatre, Wellington. She was awarded Best Actress in a Musical (Critics’ Award – Wellington) and in 1990 and 1991 was voted the most popular female actor on New Zealand television. In 1991 she also won the Rising Star Award. Rima has written poetry, stories and songs for a CD.

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence from Beryl Te Wiata on 16 Sept. 1998.
  • “Rima Te Wiata.” Filling the Frame: Profiles of 18 New Zealand Women. Wendyl Nissen. Photography by Jenny Scown. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1992. 52-61.


  • My mentor, my friend. Press, Dominion post, (9 Apr 2016):14
  • Traditional

  • "Rima Te Wiata." Filling the Frame: Profiles of 18 New Zealand Women. Wendyl Nissen. Photography by Jenny Scown. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed, 1992. 52-61.
  • In this autobiographical account Te Wiata speaks of her childhood travelling with her parents and the expectation placed on her to be a good singer like her father. She describes her entry into acting, her gradual disillusionment with the trappings of success and the importance of controlling her own publicity.


  • Aldridge, Val. "Rima Takes Vaudeville In Her Stride." Dominion 14 Apr. 1997: 8.
  • Cardy, Tom. "Right Little Madame." Evening Post 11 Oct. 2001: 24.
  • Crean, Mike. "Naughty, But Nice." Press 28 May 1997: 15.
  • Dunbar, Anna. "A Certain Age…" Press 31 July 1999: S9.
  • Kan, Raybon. "Te Wiata To Help Propel Laughinz Into New Year." Dominion 29 Dec. 1989: 24.
  • Longmore, Mary. "Warrior Woman." Evening Post 16 Mar. 2000: 11.
  • "NZSO’s Top of the Pops." Press 21 Dec. 1994: 14.
  • McCarroll, Jo. "Private Parts." Sunday Star Times 27 Jan. 2002: F1.
  • Moore, Christopher. "In Her Own Right." Press 3 Mar. 2004: C3.
  • Rae, Bernadette. "Only Too Happy to Sing." New Zealand Herald 5 Jan. 1991. S.2.
  • Rapson, Bevan. "Rima Decides to Get Real." New Zealand Herald 6 Apr. 1998: B4.
  • Rewi, Adrienne. "Funny Girl." Press 7 Mar. 1992: Sup.1.
  • Shingleton, Pania. "Rima Te Wiata: Stage Success in Her Own Right." Evening Post 18 Jan. 1990: 23-24.
  • Smith, Charmian. "An Ambitious Part to Play." Otago Daily Times 26 Sept. 2002: 29.
  • Topp, Nevin. "Sound and Vision Exposure for Te Wiata." Press 16 Apr. 1993: 25.
  • Werner, Tara. "Vocally Versatile." New Zealand Herald 9 Feb. 1995: S2.1.
  • White, Rob. "Rima in the Raw." Press 16 Jan. 1993: Sup.4.
  • White, Rob. "Wired Up to Strip." New Zealand Herald 22 Jan. 1993: S.2.3.