Nicola Kawana performs in Astroman by Albert Belz, a co-production with Auckland Theatre Company and Te Rēhia Theatre Company in association with Auckland Arts Festival, March 16-April 6 at Q Theatre.

What was your greatest holiday?

Last year, I travelled to London where my daughter was living. Exploring London and Dorset was great and Paris was next-level. At a park in Montmartre, while eating as much camembert as possible, I watched a young man read a paperback, an old man sketching and young people talking to each other without a mobile phone in sight. I tried to wake up my Catholic bones by taking mass in Notre Dame, twice! I ate an almond croissant every morning, followed by a rummage through the op shops. We made a pilgrimage to Oscar Wilde's tomb and fell in love with Picasso at the Musee de Picasso.

And the worst?
My mother decided to spend her 70th in Tasmania and take her daughters with her. I love my family but travelling with them was always going to feel like a chore rather than a holiday. I dreaded going to Tasmania. It just seemed so monocultural. And it was. Hobart is pretty and Mona outranks the Tate Modern, in my opinion, but there was no reference to what had once been a thriving Aboriginal population or the subsequent genocide. We missed the stunning landscapes on our drive to Launceston and ended up in Georgetown, trying desperately to find something of interest.


If we bump into you on holiday, what are you most likely to be doing?
Chasing squirrels, eating cheese, searching for decent coffee, looking at art and old things, eating like a local, avoiding tourist traps, op shopping, visiting supermarkets, taking photos of human poo and rubbish in Rome, biking along the Thames, using local languages badly while gesticulating wildly.

What's the dumbest thing you've ever done when travelling?
Arriving at the airport in Naples only to discover that I'd left my passport under my mattress at our accommodation in a small town some 40 minutes away.

Aisle seat or window seat?
Aisle for long haul, easier to pee and stretch.

Complete this sentence: I can't travel without ... Spotify.

What's the best travel tip you've ever been given?
Keep your money and passport safe and close at all times.

What was the most memorable meal you've had while travelling?
My cousin took me to dinner in Hong Kong, where he lives with his Chinese wife and children. It never occurred to me to turn down the goose intestines and pigs heart simmered in delicious broth. Sharing their favourite food was part of their outstanding manaakitanga. Part of growing up Māori is understanding that food is the giving and receiving of love, and sometimes your personal preferences have to take a back seat to this unspoken law.

What's the best thing you've brought back from a trip? An expanded mind.

Favourite airport to land at?
Auckland International. Nothing beats being welcomed home by the beautiful tomokanga, the carved gateway.