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His name has been immortalised in the most famous line in New Zealand television history, and now Dr Hone Ropata is returning to Shortland Street.

The smouldering Dr Ropata - played by Temuera Morrison - was written out of the show in 1995 to return to the East Cape and set up a clinic for marae in the area.

But the hunky doctor is back and will appear on the popular soap over a six-week period beginning on Thursday, June 5.

His name was immortalised in the first episode of the show in 1992, when nurse Carrie Burton said to him: "You're not in Guatemala now, Dr Ropata."

Morrison, who arrived on the set yesterday to reprise his role, wasn't able to confirm how his character returns to the show.

"Some of my happiest memories are from my time on Shortland Street. When I read the script and saw what Hone gets up to this time around, I was really excited about returning," said the 47-year-old.

Shortland Street producer Jason Daniel said yesterday that Dr Ropata would appear in a fairly major story.

"The best that I can say is that the storyline capitalises on the character of Hone Ropata as he was established 16 years ago so it's in keeping with his background and character then, but builds on his experiences in the 13 years that he's been out of our view," said Mr Daniel.

"We've constructed a story that makes it interesting for Tem to come back and play so that it's not just more of the same. It's his character under pressure and with a series of challenges that make it an interesting journey for him as a character and an interesting challenge for Tem."

When asked if Dr Ropata would be back in a doctor role, he said: "Yes, with a few twists. I don't want to give too much away."

And Mr Daniel said there may well be some references to Guatemala.

"A lot of cast and crew here [yesterday] were wearing their `You're Not In Guatemala' T-shirts for his arrival."

Dr Ropata's comeback is set to coincide with the celebration of the show's 4000th episode, which will screen on Friday, 6 June.

After leaving the show, Morrison starred in several Hollywood blockbusters including Star Wars and Speed 2: Cruise Control.

Watch the immortal line below