"I always joke that I've got a 'second season' curse," Miriama McDowell says. "It doesn't matter how good a TV show is or how sure it is that my character is going to be in the next season I've never actually made it to a second season before."
McDowell has been a regular on our screens for many years, starring in high profile shows like Terry Teo, Outrageous Fortune, This is Not My Life and, of course, the almost obligatory stint on Shortland Street.
But it was her role on the immensely popular Brokenwood Mysteries that had her beginning to wonder what was going on...
"Brokenwood is a good example of that. I was in the last scene of the first series, in the main character's house, after I'd been kidnapped and he'd just saved me. And then... you never saw me again," she bursts into laughter. "It was heartbreaking."
With her role on Find Me A Maori Brideyou could say that McDowell has finally broken free of the curse that's plagued her career. In fact, the second season of Maori TV's popular, critically acclaimed and very funny comedy couldn't have happened without her.
"I didn't know anything about the first season," she recalls. "I turned up on my one day of shooting and thought I was playing a minor character. It turned out that I was the cliffhanger of the whole season."
In case you missed it, Find Me a Maori Bride is about two cousins who must find Maori Brides in order to fulfill the conditions of their grandmother's multi-million dollar property inheritance.
That cliffhanger had McDowell's character, Elizabeth Partridge, arriving on the scene and living up to her namesake by getting amongst the pigeons with her announcement of being a long lost cousin.
"I'm taking on the boys, basically," she grins. "They think they've got it all sorted then I completely throw them."
It's a neat premise - an inheritance tied to an outrageous condition - but could it really happen?
"What I love about this show and these producers is that they make TV about things that could only happen in Aotearoa" she says. "There's something very special about going, 'this could only happen here because it's about Maori people.' I think it's a really amazing premise."
So how does Elizabeth fit into the mix?
"She's the foil. But her essence that she's trying to find love. That's the main reason she's there. I don't think it's actually for the money. She's trying to figure out where she stands in te reo Maori," McDowell explains before getting personal. "That's my job every day to figure that out. To figure out how I stand in Aotearoa as an actor, as a part Maori/part Pakeha, non-fluent speaking Maori. It's a big part of my identity and what I'm trying to figure out."
Is she getting there?
"I think so! I probably need to go and do full immersion Maori at some point," she says wistfully. "I just have to find a gap in my filming schedule. Ten minutes here and there doesn't cut it."
Find Me a Maori Bride also takes a satirical look at the reality TV genre, as the boys turn to the tactics of shows like The Bachelor and Survivor to aid them in finding their future wives.
One last question: Does McDowell perchance indulge in the guilty pleasures offered by those shows?
"No," she laughs. "I'm proud to say that I don't do any garbage."
Who: Miriama McDowell
What: The second season of comedy Find Me a Maori Bride
When: Starts tonight, 9pm on Maori TV.