Global megastar Jason Momoa has spoken about his connection to Aotearoa - but the Polynesian superstar has been finding his roots in another way, chilling out with league legend Ruben Wiki and drinking kava.
Photos shared online by Auckland kava lounge Four Shells show Momoa relaxing in Herne Bay with Wiki on Friday night, during his extended trip to New Zealand to film his new television series.
Four Shells owner ‘Anau Mesui-Henry said she was surprised to meet Momoa after arriving to deliver bottled kava to Wiki, a well-known fan of the calming drink made from the roots of the piper methysticum plant.
She said Momoa seemed at home and relaxed and her son Ngata told the Herald “it was pretty cool” to see the star lounging in Tāmaki Makaurau without heavy security.
Momoa seemed to enjoy his kava, which is also grown and enjoyed in his native Hawai’i, where it is known as ‘awa’.
He enjoyed it so much another delivery was swiftly ordered.
Four Shells co-founder Todd Henry told the Herald that Momoa was the most famous person he knew of that had enjoyed their kava but said that the drink was “egalitarian by nature” and anyone was welcome in their space, an alcohol-free lounge at Victoria Park Market that serves kava and good vibes.
Momoa is in Aotearoa to film a series about native Hawai’ian history that he is starring in, co-writing and co-producing.
The AppleTV+ series Chief of War will see the Bay of Islands stand in for 18th-century Hawai’i and debuts on the streaming service this year.
The actor visited the Bay of Islands in October for a formal welcome by local hapū Ngāti Kuta and Patukeha.
Hundreds attended the pōwhiri at Te Rāwhiti Marae, about 25km east of Russell, with guests unaware that Momoa was attending until the last minute.
At the time, Momoa planted a kōwhai tree and shared a hākari [feast].
Last month he was also welcomed to a marae in West Auckland with a pōwhiri in Glen Eden.
Momoa had previously stated on social media that he’d been drawn to Aotearoa ever since seeing pictures of the country as a child.
According to family tradition, his ancestors had travelled from Hawai’i to Aotearoa and back nine generations ago, which explained his sense of connection.
“It’s the only place on Earth I’ve set foot and felt this is exactly where I’m from,” he said.