Veteran actor George Henare stars in the Gilbert & Sullivan musical masterpiece HMS Pinafore, and while he is preparing to set sail with the show, the 70-year-old actor's lust for life means there are still plenty of journeys ahead.

Henare must be one of the most versatile performers in New Zealand. Not only has he acted in a variety of television, film and stage roles too numerous to list, the opera-trained performer has jumped ship regularly, performing in musicals over the course of his 50 years in the business.

He first started working in show business for the NZ Opera Company in 1965 where he sang chorus in Porgy and Bess and II Trovadore.

Decades later, he is still keen to sing for his supper, and said he's excited about performing in HMS Pinafore, where he will play Sir Joseph Porter.


The Gilbert and Sullivan classic is a tale of forbidden love and a satirical look at class and identity while lampooning the rise of unqualified people to positions of power. While it was written a century ago, the messages are still as relevant today as they ever were, said Henare.

"I was looking at my character last night, and I thought, this so applies to the politicians of today. It is all a sendup of how stupid people can be and how they don't realise it."

He said life on the road was busy, but life as a rolling stone performer was good for his soul.

"It's madness - you perform, you get up in the morning, you have breakfast and you are on the road travelling maybe hundreds of miles to your next show. In a way it's saying live in the moment - just be."

It's this inner self-knowing that sees Henare still willing to take risks and push himself into the unknown, both professionally and personally, while others of his age are slowing down.

Henare recently accepted the role as The Sultan in the musical Aladdin and will be working in Sydney and Melbourne for the next two years.

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" I'm happy here in Auckland, but there was another side to me that said it's time for a change. Maybe I was destined to be a vagabond. But I've started packing and throwing things out. It made me realise home is not the things you own, or the place you live. Home is inside you."


* What: HMS Pinafore

* Where: Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre

* When: Tonight 7pm