Mika Haka (born Terrance John Pou; 8 February 1962; renamed Neil Gudsell) is a New Zealand Māori singer, performance artist, actor, filmmaker, TV Producer and comedian. He has toured across the world performing his cabaret stage shows and music. He has performed ten times at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, most recently with his show "Salon Mika". As an actor, he has been in many TV shows and movies including Shark in the Park, The Piano, Shortland Street and many more. He has released five albums in his music career, including his more well known albums "Do U like what U see?", "Mika Haka" and "Mika Versus Fashion". The most successful songs that he has released were "I Loved me a man", "Lava Lover" and "Coffee".
Carmen Rupe on the Left
Mika Haka on the right
1994 Carmen International coffee Lounge show
Terrance John Pou
8 February 1962
|Residence||Mount Roskill, New Zealand|
|Other names||Neil Gudsell|
|Education||Timaru Boys' High School|
|Parent(s)||Elizabeth Halkett (birth mother)|
Dawn Gudsell (adoptive mother)
Witoti Winiki Pou (birth father)
Bill Gudsell (adoptive father)
Early life 1962–1979
Mika Haka was born Terrance John Pou on 8 February 1962 in Timaru, New Zealand, was taken at birth from his single birthmother Elizabeth Halkett and was adopted by New Zealand European couple Dawn and Bill Gudsell. Once adopted by the couple, Terrance's name was changed to Neil Gudsell. At the age of 12, Mika came out as gay while he was attending Timaru's Watlington Intermediate School. During his teen years, while attending Timaru Boys High School, he played rugby and competed in athletics, leading to him competing at the national championship.
Dance, theatre and TV 1980–1989
After high school, Mika became a hairdresser in the small suburb of Spreydon, Christchurch; however, after winning New Zealand Flash Dance Championships he quit his job and opened up his own dance studio, Miyake Dance Studio at Peterborough Arts Centre. In 1982, Mika moved to Los Angeles with his African American Navy boyfriend for nine months before eventually returning to New Zealand. Mika moved to Christchurch in 1984 and attended New Zealand School of Dance in 1985, left the school nine months later due to lack of Maori content in the course. At the time he left the course he received an invitation to join Te Ohu Whakaari, a Maori Theatre company that was based in Wellington. The company led to touring nationally and internationally, including doing a Sydney tour in 1986. Shortly after the Sydney tour, Mika left Te Ohu Whakaari and moved to Dunedin to work on Te Maori exhibition. During his time in Dunedin, he was inspired to write a one-man show called Mahi Whakangahau, which eventually was performed at The Depot in 1988. Finishing off his one-man show, Mika landed himself a role on Shark in the Park in a heterosexual role as Constable Ra for one season. Mika then moved to Auckland when filming was completed. In Auckland, he was cast as a young Carmen Rupe, on the 1989 biopic Carmen. At the end of the 1980s, Mika saw the film Mauri. This inspired him to find the creator of the film, film maker Merata Mita, to direct his next show. Mika eventually tracked her down and convinced her to direct his next solo show called Neil Gudsell Uncooked. The show was performed at the 1990 Adelaide Fringe.
Mika was born, I Loved me a Man, Lava Lover and Pearl Harbour 1990–1994
After the Neil Gudsell Uncooked show finished at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, Mika flew to Tokyo to compete at the Inaugural Suzuki World Cup aerobic championships, in which he placed eighth. In 1988, Mika met Dalvanius Prime at his one-man show Mahi Whakangahau. During the show Mika performed a medley of New Zealand songs, one of them being I Have Loved Me A Man by Allison Durbin. Dalvanius told Mika that he needed to record this. At Warner Music HQ before launching I Loved me a Man, Dalvanius gave Gudsell the name Mika, not only because it was a better name than Neil, but it was a genderfluid name. The single was released by Warner Music and produced had a music video, promoting Safe Sex. Mika took it Global with his Juiced World Tour in 1991 and 1992. The tour included performing at Edinburgh festival, Barcelona Olympics, New York City, London, San Francisco and more. At the end of 1992, after his World tour was over, Mika returned to New Zealand and auditioned for a role on the movie The Piano. Mika landed the minor role of Tahu in the film as a Takatāpui man. During filming, he was working on the first gay haka that he intended to perform at the Hero Party as part of the Hero Parade. An iconic moment of Mika's career was performing at the 1992 Hero Party at Princes Wharf in downtown Auckland singing his original song Lava Lover. Leading up to the event, Mika got a group together and rehearsed for months. The performance began with a Karanga with Mika on top of a big stage. Over 300 performers were involved with drag queens, Pacific Island dancers, Lesbian Taiaha, men dressed up as sperms and more. His backdrop was Keith Haring inspired art with yellow squares with symbols of condoms, Safe Sex and so on. He ended his performance with the Gay Haka that he created, Tenei Toku Ure. Thousands of people attended the show. The success that came from Lava Lover led him to do four shows in a space of two years. However controversy also happened when an Australian booking agent booked Mika to do a tour of Japan. With this booking, Mika put together a show with 35 Drag Queens and called the show "Pearl Harbour". But when the tour was about to happen the booker took the money and disappeared, leaving Mika to face the consequences. Mika put together a show with six other performers, however, the disaster of Pearl Harbour still impacted on Mika. Trying to move past the Pearl Harbour disaster, Mika flew to New York to meet with Gay Games Head office, However, the organisers deserted the office. Things started to turn around when he met Tim Rosta, the creator of the MTV Awards. Tim introduced Mika to Camille Barbone discovered Madonna and help secure Mika to be the warm up act for Grace Jones at Roxy NYC.
Black Carnival, Do U like what U see? and Edinburgh 1995–1999
After returning to New Zealand, Mika received an offer by Nicholas Alexander to manage him, which he accepted. One of the first projects since signing the manager was to be one of the models for the Black Carnival exhibition, an art project by Christine Webster. The photograph hangs in Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. The photograph is called Mika: Kai Tahu. In 1996, Mika Released debut album "Do U like what U see?". The album featured the gay Haka Tēnei Tōku Ure, Lava Lover, Juiced, Do U like what U see?, a cover of Aqua Marina and more. This came with the release of the music video for Do U like what U see?. The success of the album led to Mika doing a variety of cabaret shows which led to performing at the 1997 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After the Edinburgh festival which ended his show on 30 August 1997, Princess Diana died the following night. He mourned with the locals before travelling back to his hometown of Timaru to be cast in the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Timaru Theatre in October 1997. It was at this time where Mika split with his manager to gain full creative control after working with him for two years. In 1998, Mika put together a new production team to work on original songs to perform for the 1998 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He collaborated with Gareth Farr to create the music and worked with Mark James Hamilton, who created the show Ahi Ataahua. The show was first performed at Danspaleis in Wellington and then later at the 1998 Edinburgh festival. His collaboration with Mark led to them doing multiple projects over six years including The Angel Tour, Tribal Hollywood, Mika Haka, Rawaka and on TV with Mika Live and Te Mika Show. On 1 November 1998, Mika performed on the Stonewall Equality Show 1998 at the Royal Albert Hall, where he performed on the same lineup as Elton John. After the show, Mika toured frequently across the world to end his 1990s.
Mika Haka, Torotoro, Te Plastic Māori and return to TV 2000–2009
In 2000 alongside Mark Hamilton, Mika created a dance company called Torotoro. With the 10 young Māori and Pacific Island performers, it led Mika to create his next project. On 1 February 2001, Mika released his self titled second studio album called Mika Haka. The album was sung in complete Te Reo Māori, featuring songs, Ahi atāahua, Wera Wera, Ko Te Iwi, Aotearoa and more. The release of the album went on to creating music videos for Ahi atāahua, Wera Wera. His dance company featured in the music videos and he took the 10 performers with him to the Edinburgh festival in 2002 and 2003 as well as other shows. The documentary called "Mika Haka Kids", was created to talk about the performers in Torotoro. One of the many things that came out of Torotoro was a trio, a metal band called Te Plastic Māori. For a short while, Mika and Te Plastic Māori performed together, including performing at the Montreal Fringe Festival in 2015. The group created the song Poti which came with a music video and was nominated at the APRA MAIOHA awards in 2007. The success of the song led to them creating an album, however, the Studio Album was not released. In 2004, Mika signed on with Māori TV to begin his television career as a host of his own performance show. Mika Live first aired on 28 March and later turned into Te Mika Show in 2006. The shows featured music, comedy, dance and special guests. For the rest of the 2000s, Mika continued to travel the world and tour shows alongside Torotoro, performing at fringe festivals across the world.
Aotea Centre, Mika Versus Fashion, Rugby World Cup, Salon Mika 2010–2013
On 12 March 2010, alongside the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Mika performed at the ASB Theatre at Aotea Centre to open the Aroha Festival. The show was a gala-like event that featured performances that were in the festival and Mika performing his greatest hits including Lava Lover, Do you like what you see and more. Later in the year, Mika released his third studio album "Mika Versus Fashion". The album featured seven songs performed in Māori, English, Spanish and French and the instrumentals of those songs. The last song of the album featured Mika singing his own version of La Vie En Rose. The album can be described as a techno-dance and electronica album. On 25 September 2011, Mika put together the largest show of his career. As part of the 2011 Rugby World Cup that happened in New Zealand, Mika put on a free outdoor concert at the Takutai Square, Britomart, in downtown Auckland. The show had over 760 performers and it took months of rehearsals before the event took place. The show played twice on the same day with the first show going from 6 pm to 7:30 pm and second show from 8 pm to 10 pm, with thousands of people attending both times. The second show was prerecorded and broadcast on Māori TV on 14 October 2011. The event happened at the same time as Ireland v Russia and Argentina vs Scotland in the Rugby World Cup. The event featured Rena Owen as the storyteller and MC for the evening, and Mika performing his well known singles, "In the morning" (feat Keisha Castle-Hughes), Lava Lover RWC version (feat Edward Ru), "Wera Wera" (feat Erakah), Taniwha (feat Te Tai Tonga), Caged Animals (feat Kiri Nathan), Friend (feat everyone), and "Get It On" a remix of an earlier song called Spoof. In 2013, Auckland had its very own Fringe Festival. Mika decided to do a season of cabaret shows with a live band and special guest including Megan Alatini at one of Auckland's busiest nightclubs "Switch Bar". The show was called "Salon Mika". Mika went on to perform eight shows during the festival, to a sell-out crowd. With the success of Salon Mika, he decided to take the cabaret show on tour across the world.
Dress to Express, Coffee, Loved me a man 2014–2016
On 6 February 2014, Waitangi Day, Mika put together a small variety show at one of Auckland's nightclubs. At the end of the event, Mika performed his new single "Dress to Express" featuring Zakk d'Larté and Hannah Martin. The single produced a music video with all three dancing and singing the song with special effects. The single reached the top 40s on the iTunes New Zealand Charts. The success of the song led to releasing another single later in the year. This time releasing the remixed version of "Coffee" Featuring Lavina Williams. The single also produced a music video that featured well known LGBT members of the community.On the 1st of May 2016, Mika put on a one day festival similar to the 2011 Mika Aroha Mardi Gras closing down Karangahape Road to perform on the street. The event was called "Mika Aroha Mardi Gras The Red Light District". The event lasted for over 7 hours with people flooding the street to attend the event. The event featured Mr Gay World 2013 and New Zealand's Got Talent semi finalist Christopher Olwage, Queens Of Panguru (Ramon Te Wake, Jay Te Wake and Maihi Makiha), a music performance from Mika himself and many more performances. At the festival, some of Queens of Panguru tv series was film for the first episode. On 9 July 2016, New Zealand celebrated the 30 year anniversary of Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986. An event was held at the Skycity Convention Centre called the Rainbow Gala, to celebrate the anniversary. Mika Haka opened the event with a branded new sing, a remixed version of "Loved me a man" featuring Lavina Williams. The music video of the song was released in October 2016. The video showed some of Mika's past performances in music, video and art. It shows Mika singing in a night club in an intimate setting and seeing Mika as a gay Maori Jesus-like character. In September 2019, one of Mika's former employees Benjamin Thomas Watt, put together a non profit boxing event to promote Mikas charity, The Mika Haka Foundation. During the event, Benjamin presented to the charity an award for their contributions to the community.
Queens Of Panguru, Swimming with Sharks, Salon Mika Live 2017–2019
Throughout 2016 and 2017, the filming and editing of Queens Of Panguru was in production. Mika was the Creator, Creative Designer, Executive Producer of the TV series. Some of Mika music also featured in the tv series. The show was televised on Maori TV weekly, with the premiere on 22nd March 2017. On the 20th of February 2017, Mika released his forth Studio album "Swimming with Sharks". The album featured dance and electronic versions of his original music including Swimming with Sharks, Taniwha, In the Morning featuring Keisha Castle-Hughes and more. In March 2017, Costa Kerdemelidis released an album called "The Big Shake". On the album Mika was featured in a song called "Tango on a Tightrope". In October 2017, Mika put together a Charity concert to raise money and supplies for the Auckland City Mission to give to the homeless in Auckland City. In August 2018, Mika released a Live Album from his Salon Mika caberate show that he performed at the Edinburgh fringe festival. On 4th October 2018, Mika Haka released his first autobiography called "I Have Loved Me a Man: The Life and Times of Mika". On June 2019, Mika returned to his hometown of Timaru and accepted 2018 Teschemaker Cup for his contribution to demonstrating outstanding achievement in his chosen field of performing arts at his high school, Timaru Boys' High School. On September 10th 2019, It was announced that Mika was cast as Ngati Haua entertainer for "Natives Go Wild" show at the Sydney Opera House. He will perform in Seven shows between October 22nd and 27th.
- I have loved me a man (1990)
- Do U like what U see? (1996)
- Lava Lover (1992)
- Werawera (2001)
- Poti with Te Plastic Maori (2007)
- The Closer I Get To You feat. Mirrah (2008)
- Dress to Express Feat Zakk d'Larté and Hannah Martin (2014)
- Coffee Feat. Lavina Williams (2014)
- Loved me a man (2016)
- Do U Like What U See (1996)
- Mika Haka (2001)
- Mika Versus Fashion (2010)
- Swimming with sharks (2017)
- Salon Mika Live in Edinbourgh (2018)
|"Tango on a tightrope"||2017||Costa Kerdemelidis||The Big Shake|
Notable performances & Tours
|Tour Name||Location||Dates||Number of Shows|
|Hero Party||Princes Warf, Downtown Auckland, New Zealand||1992||1|
|Stonewall Equality Show 1998||Royal Albert Hall||1998||1|
|Mika and the APO – Pō A Tribal Pop Opera||ASB Theatre, Auckland, New Zealand||12 March 2010||1|
|Mika Versus Fashion – CD Launch||The Crib, Auckland, New Zealand||21 September 2010||1|
|RWC 2011: Mika's Aroha Mardi Gras||Takutai Square, Auckland, New Zealand||25 September 2011||2|
|Salon Mika||Switch Bar, Auckland, New Zealand||13 February 2013 to 23 February 2013||8|
|Mika's Aroha Mardi Gras||Legend Bar, Auckland, New Zealand||6 February 2014||1|
|Room 1334||Basement, Auckland, New Zealand||14 February 2015||1|
|Salon Mika: On the Water||Z Pier Marina, Auckland, New Zealand||8 March 2015||1|
|SXSW Room 1334||Webberville Baptist church, Austin, Texas, USA||22 March 2015||1|
|Aroha Mardi Gras The Red Light District||Karangahape Road, Auckland, New Zealand||1 May 2016||1|
|Pō - Beautiful Darkness||St Matthew Church, Auckland, New Zealand||10 October 2017||2|
|Natives Go Wild||Sydney Opera House||22 - 27 October 2019||7|
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