|Shortland Street character|
|Portrayed by||Nicola Kawana|
|First appearance||24 March 2005|
|Last appearance||11 October 2006|
|Introduced by||Harriet Crampton|
|Occupation||Chief Executive Officer of Shortland Street (2006)|
Huia Samuels is a fictional character on the New Zealand soap opera Shortland Street who was portrayed by Nicola Kawana from early 2005 to late 2006. The character was initially a recurring character but when producers realised her potential, she soon became a regular before being axed in a high-profile terrorism storyline.
Huia arrived in March 2005 and within several months had become the Chief Executive Officer of A hospital. She then embarked on a high-profile love triangle storyline when she started a relationship with Craig Valentine (Renato Bartolomei), pitting her against his unrequited love – Sarah Potts (Amanda Billing). Her relationship with Craig led to a motherlike relationship with his teenage daughter Scarlett (Nicole Thomson) and it was not long before the family unit expanded with the arrival of Huia's cousin TK (Benjamin Mitchell). Huia's final storyline saw her breakup with Craig, only to become pregnant after a one-night stand and end up dying after entering a car rigged with an explosive.
Huia was a well received character and her death remains known to fans as one of the most iconic deaths and moments in the show's history. The prominence of her death was long running with the storyline being explored years later. Her introduction also marked the start of the prominent Samuels family.
Creation and casting
Huia was created as a minor guest character that was due to appear for several episodes and Nicola Kawana was cast in the role. However, after producers realised the characters potential she was upgraded to a regular.
In August 2006 it was announced that Huia had been axed from the soap. The storyline leading up to her exit was said to be "dramatic" and that all storylines for Huia had "dried up". Kawana was reported to be extremely angry and upset at her axing and reportedly did not show up to work for numerous days. The storyline saw Huia, newly pregnant, die in a car explosion after entering a car rigged with a bomb.
Huia arrived to the hospital to manage the accounts and instantly got on well with Craig Valentine (Renato Bartolomei) and his daughter Scarlett (Nicole Thomson). The hospital's CEO Andrew Solomon (Paolo Rotondo) resigned and Huia ended up getting the job. She began to date Craig and started to suspect the clinic manager Hamish (Phil Brown) of fraud. Craig discovered that Huia had previously been married to Buddy Haanui (Antonio Te Maioha) and their relationship began to sour. Craig broke it off but whilst on a business trip in Rotorua, the two had a one-night stand and Huia fell pregnant. She decided to leave the country after abuse from Craig's girlfriend Sarah (Amanda Billing) but decided to stay after pleads from Craig. However whilst on a way to a meeting, Huia borrowed Ant Richards' (Michael Morris) car and upon turning on the exhaust, died in a massive explosion that had been rigged underneath.
The car bomb was revealed to be from pharmaceutical company – Scott Spear and placed in Ant's car after he stole documents from them. The storyline was again visited in 2008 when Craig began to investigate the company alongside Justine Jones (Lucy Wigmore). Huia's friend Toni Warner (Laura Hill) died as part of a result of faulty drugs created by Scott Spear and Craig was later murdered by Scott Spear thugs. After faking her own death after nearly dying in another car bomb, Justine testified in court, which saw Scott Spear shut down for good.
With storylines having dried up with the character of Huia, producers decided to axe the character in a truly dramatic fashion. Producer Jason Daniel decided to have the character killed off in October rather than the December cliffhanger so as that the storylines gain momentum. A storyline running alongside parallel to Huia's was that of dodgey pharmaceutical company and its annoyance at Ant Richards for stealing the documents. Daniel decided to kill off the character of Huia with the subject of terrorism, stating; "We're living in a world now where bits of terrorism pop up all over the place, who would've thought Bali a couple of years ago? There have also been some scary incidents in schools, not just in the US but here, too. You look at the reports of how teachers are treated by their students, so I don't think any of it is unbelievable. We don't want to create a precedent but we always like to look at the world around us and think, 'What if?' " The writing team consulted The New Zealand police and bomb squads to accurately portray the bombing. Daniel tried to create the illusion on screen that Ant was going to be killed off, saying; "The predictable story would have been that Ant was the victim, obviously, he was intended to be." The storyline saw Huia fall pregnant following a one-night stand with ex fiance Craig Valentine. She decides to leave the city only to be talked round by Craig. While going to a meeting, she borrows Ant's car and following an argument with Sarah turns on the ignition, only to be killed in a firery explosion that injures numerous bystanders including Sarah and Tania Jeffries. Daniel was pleased with the end result, saying; "Baghdad comes to Shortland Street, I don't think anyone will have seen that coming." The episode was followed up by a week of aftermath episodes, including the initial aftermath and then several episodes involving the grief and coming to terms of the death, then Huia's funeral at her marae and finally a storyline that saw news reporters arriving to the hospital.
Producers ensured the character of Huia and her cousin, TK Samuels (Benjamin Mitchell), were true portrayals of Maori culture, with Jason Daniel stating, "It’s important that we show a spectrum. Currently the audience reaction to Huia is interesting. She’s often regarded as somewhat cold, tough and uncompromising when in fact if you look at a lot of situations her character has been in, she’s mostly right. She’s a very moral, uncompromising character. I think even the fact that we have a Maori woman who is the CEO of a hospital is in itself radical." Huia was a highly favourable character for fans, with numerous positive comments on messageboards following her death suggesting she was "much-loved". In the Throng Shortland Street Fan Awards 2006, fans voted Huia's death as "Best Exit" and "Favourite Moment". It also won runner up for "Saddest Moment" alongside her funeral. However fans were disappointed that Huia's killers were never revealed nor caught. In 2012, Huia's death was voted by fans as one of the shows most iconic moments.
- Cook, Stephen (August 2006). "Dumped actress throws hissy fit and goes Awol from set in protest". NZherald. APN News & Media. Retrieved October 2011. Check date values in:
- Barry Hill, Rebecca (October 2006). "Surgical strike on Shortland Street". NZherald. Retrieved October 2011. Check date values in:
- "Huia goes Home". Throng. October 2006. Retrieved October 2011. Check date values in:
- "Shortland Street- browning off?". Mana Magazine. Mana Productions. July 2006.
- "Shortland Street Fan award winners 2006". Throng. December 2006. Retrieved August 2011. Check date values in:
- Philpot, Chris (27 March 2012). "Shorty: vote for your favourite moments". stuff.co.nz. Fairfax Media.