Mika Haka, raised in Timaru, New Zealand, is an international sensation. He’s performed with Carmen, entertained HRH Prince Charles at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, warmed up for Grace Jones, appeared in over twenty TV series and specials, penned the world’s first ever gay haka, Tēnei Tōku Ure (This Is My Penis), and is proudly kaitiaki of the Mika Haka Foundation – a charity organisation committed to keeping young New Zealanders active and healthy through physical culture and the performing arts.
About the book
I have loved me a Man: the life and times of Mika by Sharon Mazer celebrates the 30th anniversary of Mika Haka’s first solo show. Containing a gallery of Mika’s finest stories and photographs from his childhood and tours (including some full frontal nudes) this book is “not so much a biography as an academic study that measures his performance career in terms of our evolution as an increasingly tolerant society”. Enjoy!
- Which performance of yours are you most proud of and why?
I don’t really have a fave, I do however have moments of realisations like when I kissed a guy on stage the day after a Cuban gay rights rally led by Fidel’s daughter, or singing in NYC to raise money for NYC Men’s Health during the AIDS Crisis – moments where I felt aware of change – and more importantly being part of that change.
- What’s the most outrageous thing you’ve ever done?
Not possible to print that answer – I’m Mika lol
- If there’s one book everyone should read, which one do you recommend?
The book of tea Kakuzo Okakura and for a great biography Swanson On Swanson by Gloria Swanson
- What does a typical day in the life of Mika look like?
Between 4 and 5am I wake and write, then yoga, a healthy breakfast before attending to my foundation of young social entrepreneurs, where we create – a quiet time after lunch, at night I either go out or stay in and chill / read /music …
- What’s in your house that you couldn’t live without?
My picture of my mum and dad
- ‘[B]ecause I was forbidden to do anything brown, it allowed me to explore my roots on my own terms…a sort of cultural pick-n-mix” – what were some of the things you explored to create this pick-n-mix?
The Weetbix packet had a cut out Marae so I made my own village, followed by what a Maori should look like.
- Your performances have taken you from Russia with Donatella to Cuba with Castro’s daughter. Tell us about your best ever trip.
Tokyo has always intrigued me, mostly because I believe it’s what NZ could’ve been had we immersed the entire nation in Te Reo. You see Japan is unashamedly Japanese – whereas all the colonised nations have been ‘mongrel’d’ e.g. a bit of this and a bit of that and yet at times we are only British or Maori in ‘pockets’ of NZ. In Japan the street names are Japanese yet the modernity thrives within. Had the colonials been onto it (tourism wise at least) we would have Maori design everywhere with Te Reo street names blending with the modernisation Britain bought. Sadly, we don’t and hence why sometimes we ask ourselves “What is NZ Culture?”.
- Who is the most influential person you’ve encountered in your years of performing?
Well apart from the people in my book (Merata Mita, Dalvanius, Camille Barbone, Carmen) I would say an elderly African American woman I accidentally shared a Grey hound with between LA and Baltimore in the 90s. Amongst a race riot on the bus, no shower stops for 3 days and ‘bad food’ stops – she shared so much about life. Her survival bought awareness of the indifference humanity can be. From racial abuse, murder, segregation and much more, she saw light. This wasn’t a God thing, it was her own belief in the power of just ‘being’