A history or Hone

Everyone who has watched their fair share of Shortland Street is aware of the famous saying “You’re not in Guatemala now, Dr. Ropata” which was delivered in the very first episode by Nurse Carrie Burton to Dr Hone Ropata.

But for many younger viewers who may have only been toddlers when the show first began, the announcement that actor Temuera Morrison (Once were Warriors, Star Wars) was reprising his role as Dr. Ropata left them wondering what all the fuss was about.

So, for those of you too young to remember the show back in the early days, we thought we’d give you a refresher course on one of Shortland Street’s very first characters.

Hone Ropata is an orthopaedic surgeon. He is Maori, and of the Ngati Porou tribe. He is bold and assertive, and has a very clear direction on life and achievement.

After graduating, Hone specialised in orthopaedic medicine in London. He was expected home after that; instead he went to Guatemala because of his special interests related to third world medicine. He worked in hospitals so under-resourced that the word “primitive” was high praise. There he met an Australian doctor, Claire Lloyd. She had the same motivations. They became engaged and decided to live in New Zealand, but as Hone’s contract ended before hers, he went on ahead to find them somewhere to live and prepare for their marriage.

Dr Hone Ropata arrived at Shortland Street fresh from a stint in Guatemala and carried out a breech delivery on a pregnant teen, rather than the recommended hospital transfer and caesarean section. Hone’s unorthodox methods led him to clash with the other members of the staff, particularly Nurse Carrie Burton (Lisa Crittenden) and Dr Meredith Fleming (Stephanie Wilkin) – (hence the infamous reprimand).

When Chris and Alison broke up following his fling with Jill, Chris ended up in bed with a stranger, only to find out that she was Claire, Hone’s fiancee. Meredith and Hone, who had had a one night stand just prior to Claire’s arrival, quickly decided to remain friends. Meredith’s ten year old son Andrew soon turned up and Meredith quickly devoted herself to raising him, while Hone had to the deal with the shenanigans of his wayward fiancee, who after sleeping with Chris began sleeping with clinic boss Michael McKenna! (Paul Gittins). Hone eventually dumped Claire after learning of her various affairs with his co workers.

Hone became involved with Hillary Sturgess (Susan Brady), the daughter of the man who owned the majority share in the clinic. While Michael was away, Hillary’s father died and Hillary immediately organised a takeover of the clinic by American HMO Good Health. At the same time, Hone was also meant to be in a relationship with a woman called Te Aniwa. Needless to say, she was a little unhappy to find out that her boyfriend was doing the dirty and ended their relationship. Hone then called it quits with Hillary.

Hone mysteriously disappeared from work one day, leaving other staff members to take over his case load. Gone for weeks with no word of where he had gone, or if he would even return, the rest of Shortland Street was torn between concern for their missing friend and frustration at his inconvenient disappearance. Almost a month after his disappearance, the staff received a seriously ill patient who had been taken off a cargo ship. They were shocked to find Hone by her side.

It was soon revealed that Hone had snuck back to Guatemala to rescue a family friend, Maria, who was a political refugee and had smuggled her into New Zealand with the hope of seeking asylum. Incensed that Hone had deserted the clinic, the CEO, Michael McKenna, fired Hone on the spot.

Desperate to find a way to keep Maria in New Zealand, Hone and Chris ended up faking her death to get her away from immigration, only to then discover that she had snuck back to Guatemala to help other refugees.
Rebecca, the ambulance driver, became attracted to Hone’s nephew Manny Ahutahi (Albert Belz). Manny was on probation and had come to stay with his Uncle Hone in order to get back on the straight and narrow. Rebecca ended up breaking up with Chris to be with Manny. Manny’s continued presence in Ferndale would cause trouble for Hone, when he got involved with gang members. After a gas station robbery went wrong, one of the gang members was hurt and Manny brought him in to the clinic to be attended to. The gang member died and Hone was arrested for his murder.

He then became involved with his defense lawyer, Caitlin, and was eventually cleared of the charges.

Caitlin left her husband to be with Hone. Hone decided to move back to the East Coast to open a clinic for the local community there. Caitlin went with him. Chris and Carmen also went to the East Coast temporarily to help Hone set up the clinic.

In recent times, Hone has spent the past years working in various trouble-spots around the world.

But why is he back in New Zealand? And more specifically, what is his new role at Shortland Street to be? Keep watching in June, as Shortland Street celebrates its 4000th episode, to discover more about the enigmatic and charismatic Dr Hone Ropata.


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