Packed To The Rafters: articles

Hannah Marshall

KIWI MAID: Hannah Marshall has become the sixth Kiwi Packed to the Rafters cast member, playing Loretta. She says even the Aussies made her feel welcome.

Show is packed to rafters with Kiwis

It's about the typical Aussie family - but in reality the TV hit is Packed to the Rafters with Kiwis.

Now Hannah Marshall, 26, is set to become the sixth Kiwi in the series when she debuts on Wednesday as Loretta Schembri, the love interest to "Karbo" (George Houvardas).

Marshall joins existing Kiwi cast members Rebecca Gibney (mum Julie Rafter), Erik Thomson (dad Dave), Jessica Marais (daughter Rachel) and new faces Zoe Cramond and Camille Keenan.

Aucklander Marshall began acting after her OE and has appeared in Burying Brian, Diplomatic Immunity and in Shortland Street, as the Ferndale killer's victim.

She says the Kiwi cast members are making their mark on the show. "On set, we are gradually schooling them in Kiwi accents. So there are all these Australians doing terrible Kiwi accents. It's great."

Marshall was welcomed by her fellow Kiwis. "Erik and Rebecca are amazing, they give you a heads-up on what it's like, and they were like, 'welcome to the family'.

"Erik grew up round the corner from where my parents have a bach and Bec's brother worked with my father back in the day," she said.

"Of course, we're all related somehow, and we've all got that Kiwi sense of humour, which is pretty cool."

With the Rugby World Cup approaching, the Aussie versus Kiwi banter has stepped up, but when the Christchurch earthquake hit, the Kiwis were looked after.

"There was a real sense of camaraderie. It wasn't like, 'This has happened to New Zealand', it was like 'This has happened to us'. Everyone was really concerned.

"We joke about the rugby and the accent, but when the chips are down it is a real family effort."

She says her character Loretta is a likeable girl who is popular with the Australian public.

"I like that Reta tends to put her foot in it and be a bit awkward. That's the most fun to play because she says what she thinks and wears her heart on her sleeve almost unapologetically."

Marshall got a taste of stardom a few weeks ago at the Logie Awards.

"They were insane, people screaming and taking pictures. I have never signed autographs before. The atmosphere was amazing."

On a brief visit home last week, Marshall enjoyed catching up. "There are some incredible performers in New Zealand. It's so exciting to see everyone blossoming and doing so well. They get genuine recognition in Australia. People are talking about them and going, 'Look at this work that people do in New Zealand'."

By Nicola Russell
May 15, 2011
Sunday Star Times

Note: Jessica Marais was born in South Africa and Erik Thomson in Scotland