I’m half Maori and half Scottish, one half of me wants to get drunk and the other half doesn’t want to pay for it….Introducing Billy T James, Actor, Singer, Entertainer and New Zealands most favourite comedian.
Billy’s real name was William James Te Weihi Taitoko. But his family simply knew him as Te Weihi.
He was born in the small hydro town of Karapiro in the Waikato. As the youngest child of a large, quite poor family, his parents decided to put him up for adoption.
He was adopted by Wiri and Mary James and with his new big sister Ngaire went to live in Leamington. His father worked at the Tannery next door to their house.
Billy started primary school in Leamington just outside Cambridge, as a shy boy who would often play the ukulele to one or two people but if more than three came he would stop playing.
At the age of 10 his family moved north to Whangarei. He spent two years at Whangarei Intermediate and then moved here to Whangarei boys high.
He spent the first year in and out of hospital due to having operations on his hip. This was because of an accident, either a fall from a horse or bicycle.
He was very popular at school but wasn’t a very good student. He had to repeat his 5th form (year 11). It was during his time at school that he and some friends formed his first band. They didn’t have a big playlist, only about 5 songs which they played over and over. But they managed to get jobs playing at dances and private parties.
Later on in life when he moved to the “United Maori mission hostel” while doing a printing apprenticeship, in Auckland he and his mates would sit up for hours at a time telling jokes. Some of his favourites were:
Why are fire engines red?….. Well you would be too if your hose was hanging out! What happened to the wooden car? It wooden go! What happened to the steel car? It steel wouldn’t go!
Billy T. got his big break while performing at the Avondale Rugby league Club in 1978. He got a part in the TV show Radio...