"I was born lucky," the Minister of Education and Pacific Island Affairs says on her website.
However, the Hon Hekia Parata - or Lady Gardiner (a courtesy title bestowed after her husband, Wira Gardiner, was knighted) - was born Patricia, and known by university friends as Trish. The question is: when did Trish become Hekia?
Celebrity chef Annabelle White told The Diary she studied at the University of Waikato at the same time as Parata. "Her name was Trish at that time. That's what we called her. I remember she led the student union."
Parata said she went by two names. "Yes, Annabelle would have known me as Trish at that time ... I have always gone by both names [Patricia and Hekia]."
Being bilingual across two cultures, she said, allowed her to use two names. Records show Patricia Hekia Parata submitted her university post-graduate dissertation in 1983. Parata graduated from the University of Waikato with a bachelor of arts and a masters in Maori.
She developed a taste for politics leading the Maori university students' association and the Waikato university students' union. Last year, she was honoured as a distinguished alumna by the university. White received the same honour in 2009.
Parata wouldn't be the first politician to change their name and reinvent themselves. Bill Clinton was born William Jefferson Blythe III and Gerald Ford was christened Leslie Lynch King Jnr.
Parata has always been proud of her Maori heritage. "I was born Nati; the people that the sun shines on first," she says on her blog.
"Culture and identity are the collective and personal lenses through which we see and interpret the world," she said. "Knowing who you are and where you come from helps you to get going and to get where you are going."
All Blacks legend Buncey's on a roll with tyres in Thames
All Black legend Frank Bunce opened a tyre shop in Thames on Tuesday. The rugby great, who doesn't have an automotive background, told The Diary he's looking forward to the new challenge. "I just wanted to get my hands dirty and do an honest day's work. It's been a long time since I've had a 9-to-5 job - and done any physical work!"
Buncey, who says he's been doing promo and TV work, hosts a grand opening at his Grey St shop on May 13. "I've asked Tana Umaga to help me."
He lives in Kawakawa Bay but says he enjoys the 45-minute drive to Thames each day. Meeting the locals is top of the agenda. "I've already been invited to do the prizegiving at the rugby club, and I can't wait."
Lawless says show for adults only
Lucy Lawless is gearing up for a one-night-only concert at the Kings Arms Tavern in Newton on Sunday, May 27. She stipulates: no kids allowed.
The actress took to her fan site to blog about her upcoming performance. She said the gig would be R18. "It's in a pub and I hate seeing kids at my shows. You never know what's going to come out of our mouths. Adult themes, definitely."
The Spartacus star will be joined onstage by Anika Moa and Julia Deans, and she's promising fans a raunchy night. "Julia and Anika are two f-u goddesses who blew my tiny mind when they said they wanted to play my show."
Brit will keep Bagust company
Fuggedabout bangers and mash, TVNZ says British-born Rawdon Christie will be the new face of Breakfast with Petra Bagust when Corin Dann leaves in two weeks. Christie says the early mornings will be a shock. "My wife's already worried about how much I'm going to be around during the day, but at least I'll be able to crack the whip at homework time."
The Diary suggested Tim Wilson as a contender to replace Dann, but insiders allege the former New York correspondent has a style considered "too loose" for the morning show. Word is, he is being saved for Close Up. That will keep Mark Sainsbury on his well-manicured toes - again. Campbell Live's stories on Banksie's bromance with Kim Dotcom put the TV3 show topically ahead this week.
High-flying Heston here at Aotea
Heston Blumenthal, the chef with two restaurants in the top 15 in the world, will appear at the Aotea Centre tomorrow night alongside Mike Hosking, who will MC.
The celebrity chef, understood to be staying at the Hilton Hotel, performed in Brisbane yesterday, and Sydney earlier. After his Auckland show, he appears in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hong Kong and Singapore.
On Monday, the TV cook's new Knightsbridge restaurant, Dinner, was voted ninth best in the World's 50 Best Restaurants survey by Restaurant Magazine. The Fat Duck came 13th.
Shortie Street festivities spread
Preparations for TVNZ's Shortland St 20th birthday party are set for May 25 with past and present cast members invited, but three former faces had their own reunion this week in Hollywood. Kim Crossman (Sophie McKay), onscreen dad Peter Mochrie (Callum McKay) and brother Lee Donoghue (Hunter) are meeting casting agents and doing auditions.
"I have booked into some exciting classes over the next few weeks, here in LA," Crossman said. "It is so important to do classes regularly, not only to upskill but to also get to know the casting directors."
Foodie celebs at Soto reopening
PS: The reopening of trendy Japanese eatery Soto in St Marys Bay was the place to be on Monday night with foodies Annabelle White, Julie Le Clerc and Lauraine Jacobs joining Denise L'Estrange-Corbet, publisher Don Hope and wine connoisseur Michael Hooper for a lavish banquet.