Lani Tupu (born 4 November 1955 in Auckland, New Zealand[1]), billed variously as Larney Tupu, John Tupu and Lani John Tupu, is a New Zealand-born actor of Samoan descent. Also known as Lani Tupu Jr.

Lani John Tupu
Three quarters head and waist of Lani Tupu wearing a patterned short sleeved shirt. He is doing something with his hands in front of his body and looking at them.
Lani Tupu at DragonCon 2009
Born (1955-11-04) 4 November 1955 (age 66)
Auckland, New Zealand
Other namesJohn Tupu; Larney Tupu
CitizenshipNew Zealand


Tupu was born in 1955 to an English mother and a Samoan father. Tupu was named after his father Lani Tupu. Tupu started acting in church plays.[2] Tupu was educated at Rongotai College and Wellington Teachers' Training College. He was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Bursary in 1977 to enter New Zealand Drama School. Tupu's father was also called Lani and was also an actor. When Tupu graduated drama school in 1979[3] he was the first Samoan to do so. He then moved to Auckland and was in the Theatre Corporate company for three years, and then two years at the Mercury Theatre. He got a lead role in TV series Country GP where he played a Māori doctor.[4][5][2][6][7]

Tupu moved to Australia to pursue other acting opportunities.[4] Tupu's TV appearances include Impossible (1988), Time Trax (1993), The New Adventures of Flipper (1996), Farscape (1999–2003),[8][9][10] Stingers (2002/2004) and Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2004).

His movie appearances include Send a Gorilla (1988), The Punisher (1989), Marlin Bay (1992), Heart of Fire (1997),Lantana (2001), Liquid Bridge (2003), and Robotropolis (2011).

Tupu participated in the foundation of an Australian theatre group called The Walkers and Talkers along with other New Zealanders. Part of his work has involved as an acting coach and teaching in Australia and New Zealand. He also does voice work including on SBS.[4]

In 1993 he was in the premiere of John Kneubuhl's play Think of a Garden in Auckland directed by Nathaniel Lees, which reviewers compared to Bruce Mason's The End of the Golden Weather as being iconic for New Zealand.[2] His debut screen directing role was in New Zealand on Tala Pasifika in 1996, eight short films written by Lisa Taouma.[4]

Mario Gaoa a Niu FM radio host and star of the Naked Samoans theatre company describes Tupu as one of one of three godfathers of Pacific theatre along with Jay Laga'aia and Nathaniel Lees.[11]


1986 Listener Film and Television Awards – Nominated for Best Supporting Actor: for Send a Gorilla[4]

1984 Feltex Awards – Best New Talent: for Country GP[4]



Year Title Role Notes
1988 Send a Gorilla Ian Hunter
1989 The Punisher Laccone
1996 Talk of the Town Short
2001 Lantana Patrick's Lover
2003 Liquid Bridge Sharky Garcia
2007 The Condemned El Salvador Warden
2009 Dear Diary Dan Short
2009 Broken Hill Maestro Pindari (voice)
2011 Robotropolis Gordon Standish
2012 The King Is Dead! Boss Maori
2012 Marla Carlos Short
2015 Mise-En-Abyme Ryan Cumberford Short


Year Title Role Notes
1976 Epidemic Tini TV miniseries
1984–85 Country GP David Miller Episodes: "1.32", "Tim's Commie Dad"
1985 Roche Siosi Vaumauga Episode: "E.T."
1986–87 A Country Practice Richard Monti Episodes: "Day After Day: Parts 1 & 2", "Caught in the Act: Parts 1 & 2"
1990 Mission: Impossible Michael Otagi Episode: "Cargo Cult"
1990 Embassy Kalim Episode: "First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Love"
1992 Police Rescue David Goldberg Recurring role (season 2)
1992 Marlin Bay David Spence TV film
1993 The Feds: Abduction Idris Karya TV film
1994 Time Trax Col. Nabib Kila Episode: "The Gravity of It All"
1994 G.P. Brian Farmer Episode: "Breaking Out"
1994–95 High Tide Rev. Simon Henry Episodes: "Let Us Prey", "Regarding Joey"
1996 Flipper Count Vicente Episode: "The Sword of Carlos de Cabral"
1997 Heart of Fire Roger Parks TV film
1998 Tales of the South Seas Caleb Trader Episode: "Paradise Regained"
1998 House Gang Dennis Episodes: "Moving Out", "Chaos"
1999–2000 The Lost World Capicotchi / Tolmac / Prince Apep's Slave Episodes: "The Journey Begins", "Stranded", "Salvation", "The Prisoner"
1999–2003 Farscape Bialar Crais / Pilot (voice) Main role
2000 Green Sails CCT Negotiator TV film
2001 The Finder Lyle Riskin TV film
2002, 2004 Stingers Ellery Berman / Consul Khemal Lazo Episodes: "Disgraceful Conduct", "No Man's Land"
2003 Grass Roots Lynton Aubrey Episodes: "Garbage", "Investigation"
2004 Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars Pilot (voice) TV miniseries
2006 Monarch Cove Joe Episode: "1.9"
2007 Home and Away Lou Baines Episodes: "1.4407", "1.4415"
2007 The Sun's Search for the Moon Blue God TV miniseries
2009 The Cut Norberto Silwa Episode: "The Best Sex I Ever Had"
2010 Rush Pell Fisher Episode: "3.5"
2012 Packed to the Rafters Psychic Simon Episode: "Sign of the Times"
2013 Camp Dr. Welter Episode: "Parents' Weekend"
2013 Redfern Now Minister Episode: "Consequences"
2014 The Code Thom Episode: "1.1"
2017 The Letdown Jimmy Episodes: "Genealogy", "Mother Nature"
2019 Preacher Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Winston Peters Season 4, Episode 2
2019 Reckoning Dr Horatio Cabrera coroner


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Warrington, Lisa; O'Donnell, David (2017). Floating Islanders: Pasifika theatre in Aotearoa. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press. ISBN 978-1-988531-07-6.
  3. ^ "Graduate". Retrieved 9 August 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Lani Tupu". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 26 January 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Guest, Bill (2010). Transitions : four decades of Toi Whakaari : New Zealand Drama School. Wellington [N.Z.]: Victoria University Press. ISBN 978-0-86473-642-0. OCLC 669968400.
  6. ^ "Country GP". NZ On Screen. Retrieved 26 January 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ Atkinson, Laurie (22 October 2014). "Multiculturalism and acting, 1980 to 2013". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand (in Maori). Retrieved 26 January 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "BBC – Cult – Farscape – Interviews – Lani Tupu". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Lani Tupu Interview – Farscape". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  10. ^ S, Ian; well (20 July 2018). "Farscape – Where are the cast now?". Digital Spy. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  11. ^ Gearing, Nigel (24 November 2003). "Dream comes alive through memories". NZ Herald. Retrieved 26 January 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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