Horowhenua

It takes all sorts to make up a community. Some of those go on to taste sweet success. In a new series, the Horowhenua Chronicle highlights those locals who've made their mark on the world. First up, Paul Williams catches up with actor Mike Minogue, the Wellington Paranormal star who was Made In Horowhenua.


A former Horowhenua Chronicle paper boy never thought he would grow up to be a policeman.

And he hasn't. It's just that popular actor Mike Minogue is so good at playing a cop that he is now back in blue and busy filming a second season of cult television series Wellington Paranormal , due to hit screens later this year.

"I remember delivering the Horowhenua Chronicle . I inherited a run from my brother Adam and it was a bit like that - you could pass it down. If your brother was good enough then chances are you'd be all right too," he said.

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Minogue had played a policeman before, in TV movies How To Murder Your Wife , Doubt: The Scott Watson Case , and Rage , where he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 2012 NZ TV Awards.

And to prove he wasn't a one-trick pony, he had also landed roles in some of the biggest Kiwi films of the last decade including What We Do in the Shadows and The Hunt for the Wilderpeople .

"I've probably got the best of both worlds by being a cop, and then being able to enjoy myself more than a real cop," he said.

Minogue and his partner in crimefighting Officer Karen O'Leary were on location in Eastbourne this week shooting a new episode of Wellington Paranormal , a groundbreaking show unlike anything on New Zealand television.

Part reality police show, part horror, part mockumentary, it had blended different genres to become its own beast. The dead-pan delivery had the scent of creators and comedic geniuses Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi all over it.

A good example was a line from Officer Minogue in the last series when dealing with a supernatural offender.

"I don't care if you're from another planet – you come to New Zealand, you respect our rules."

Minogue said there was a deliberate effort made to tone down the monsters.

"In most shows there's a monster terrorising the city, every character would be panic-stricken trying to stop it but in our show we would probably ask him if he had a permit to kill people," he said.

Former Horowhenua Chronicle paper boy Mike Minogue and Karen O'Leary star in Wellington Paranormal.
Former Horowhenua Chronicle paper boy Mike Minogue and Karen O'Leary star in Wellington Paranormal.

"We're obsessed with the smaller rather than the bigger picture."

In his youth Minogue also had a milk run, a job at McDonald's and at New World Levin before moving to Sydney, where he moved furniture for four years.

A friend coaxed him back to New Zealand and landed him a job as a runner for the Return of the King movie, the third part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, a gig that led to more behind-the-scenes film work.

"Being a runner is an entry level position and normally you do that for a year and then step up and go into a more long-term department like camera or sound. I remained a runner for six years. I broke the mould," he said.

"While I was 31 and doing dishes and thinking to myself 'I am loving the excitement of the film industry, pass me another dirty plate' I was asked if I wanted to go for a role in new movie."

"I said "no thanks" and when I got home I asked myself why I had said no, and the truth was it was because I was scared. Because I was scared of failure. And because the rule I have for myself is that if I'm scared of doing something I have to do it," he said.

"I called the person back and said I'd changed my mind and would do the audition. And I'm stoked I did it because I ended up getting the role and everything I've done since has come from that moment."

The role was Errol, a fireman in a big-screen movie called Separation City in 2009, and since then Minogue hasn't looked back. Errol opened new doors.

"Being an actor was never my childhood dream. It's been something that has just happened, and I'm having a crack, and it's fun," he said.

In between acting roles Minogue was kept busy as producer and creator of web series The Watercooler , which brought good Kiwi yarns to life in short film through re enactment. He had also appeared in several television commercials.

Watch episode of The Watercooler here

Educated at St Joseph's Primary School and Horowhenua College in Levin, he did remember auditioning for the lead role in the school production Halfmen of O "but I was cast as rock number three and came on for half a scene in the third act," he said.

Minogue still referred to Levin as home, visited often and was fond of his small town roots.

"Yeah, I get home probably more than I would like," he said.

"I remember growing up and you would tell people where you were from and they would go "oh yeah" like it was beginning to make sense to them."

Karen O'Leary and Mike Minogue in The Watercooler. Photo / Supplied
Karen O'Leary and Mike Minogue in The Watercooler. Photo / Supplied

"It does shape you. Because there was not a lot to do you would just get together and banter with your mates and have a yarn and take the piss out of each other. I wouldn't have wanted to have been brought up anywhere else."

Minogue remembers watching countless movies as a youngster. His favourite was Pulp Fiction , while his favourite actor was Brad Pitt.

"Ohhh yeah. I love a good Brad Pitt. People say to me what about Tom Cruise? Tom Cruise is pretty good, but he's no Brad Pitt," he said.

Minogue also attended St Patrick's Silverstream in Wellington for a year as a boarder in his teens, and remembered the priests putting on a screening of Deliverance in the hall on a Saturday night.

"I don't know if you are familiar with what happens towards the end of that film but I bolted out the door and hid," he said.