This baby is 31 now (Photo: South Pacific Pictures / Additional design: Tina Tiller)
This baby is 31 now (Photo: South Pacific Pictures / Additional design: Tina Tiller)

Pop CultureFebruary 1, 2024

Are you Shortland Street’s mystery baby? 

This baby is 31 now (Photo: South Pacific Pictures / Additional design: Tina Tiller)
This baby is 31 now (Photo: South Pacific Pictures / Additional design: Tina Tiller)

Shortland Street is on the hunt for the baby that appeared in the very first episode, more than 30 years ago.

Without babies there is no continuation of human life but, more importantly, there is no Shortland Street. Despite their own shamefully soft cartilage, babies are the backbone of our most enduring soap opera. Who can forget the time Carrie gave birth to triplets, thanks to an anonymous donor who later was revealed to (obviously) be Dr Chris Warner? Or when Maia and Jay got pregnant via Maia’s sister’s husband, but then Jay died so the baby was called Jay in her memory? Or when Sarah Potts gave birth in a ditch in the middle of the wops? 

Even in the very first episode of the long-running soap, a baby stole the show. After Stuart Neilson (a young Martin Henderson) crashed his car while trying to get his pregnant girlfriend Lisa to hospital, the whole team at Shortland Street Medical Centre had to work together to deliver her baby safely. With on-duty doctor Chris Warner unreachable due to a serious case of “shagging at the gym” and a lack of birthing facilities on site, the responsibility for performing a risky breech delivery fell on new renegade doctor Hone Ropata who was firmly, as per the famous utterance, not in Guatemala anymore. 

Now, over three decades after that tumultuous entry into the world for both the series and Lisa and Stuart’s spawn, Shortland Street is on the hunt for the baby who launched a thousand baby storylines. “Reminiscing on the first ever episode of Shortland Street, actors Michael Galvin and Ngahuia Piripi wondered where the extra, who played the first baby, was now,” explains Kristina Hard, publicity manager at South Pacific Pictures. “By our calculations they will be the same age as the show, having grown up on the same timeline.”

Shortland Street wants to find the baby and invite them to return to where it all began, hopefully walking the halls of the hospital as an extra once more. But there’s a problem: nobody knows who it is. The baby was not acknowledged in the credits and the casting director at the time cannot recall who or whose it was. If a name is even listed in the show files from 1992, those are housed in a unit that could “take years” to sift through. So… who is it? Is it you, or is it me? Let’s look at what we know for sure about Shortland Street’s 1992 mystery baby. 

The baby is probably 31

Shortland Street’s first episode aired on May 25, 1992, and I’m told that the soap would have been shooting at least 10 weeks in advance back in the early days (now they shoot six weeks out). That means the baby scene was likely filmed in mid-March, 1992, when Michael Jackson’s ‘Remember the Time’ was the number one song. Do you remember the time that you were slathered in Watties and held by Temuera Morrison? Seems hard to forget. 

Sources have also told me that Shortland Street newborn casting calls generally want babies who are at least two weeks of age. I asked some baby experts how old they think the mystery baby is in this episode, and everyone concurred: around 2-3 weeks. This means that the baby was likely born either at the very end of February or the beginning of March 1992, making them now 31 years old and making plans for their upcoming 32nd birthday party (couple of quiet drinks at home). 

You’re not in Guatemala now, mystery baby

The baby might also be eight

Perplexingly, 1992 was also a leap year, which throws a cat among the pigeons re: age. If the mystery baby was born on February 29, they are technically only eight years old and will be making plans for their upcoming ninth birthday party (going hundies at TimeOut). 

The baby is probably a Pisces

If my calculations are correct, and they almost certainly aren’t, that means the mystery baby is also a Pisces. If you consider yourself creative, compassionate, loving, artistic, generous, perceptive and mildly psychic, you could well be in the running to be the mystery baby. Famous international pisces born in 1992 alongside the mystery baby include John Boyega, Kaya Scodelario and Emily Osment. Closer to home, comedian Rose Matafeo, shot putter Tom Walsh and rugby league player Michael Chee-Kam could all share Piscean celebrations with the mystery baby. Or could one of them actually… be… the mystery baby? 

Could any of these 1992 Pisces celebs be the mystery baby?

The baby was probably born in Auckland

Google tells me that babies shouldn’t travel long distances until they are at least three months old, which means it is pretty safe to say that the baby was born in the Auckland region if it was being biffed into the arms of Temuera Morrison at just two weeks. The good people at Statistics NZ inform me that 4,839 babies were born in Auckland in February, 1992, and 5,082 in March. That means we are likely looking for an easy peasy one in 9921. To narrow it down even further, Shortland Street filmed in a Browns Bay studio until it relocated to its current West Auckland location in Henderson. Could the mystery baby hail from the North Shore? Very, very possibly.  

The baby has dark hair

It’s not nothing, but it’s barely something. The mystery baby has a lovely head of dark hair, but baby hair colour tends to go down the “I think a change is what I need” route as they grow older. According to this longitudinal study, the majority of babies with darker hair for their first six months saw it then lighten between 9 months and three years old, and then darken again. Lately I’ve been lost it seems, indeed. 

The baby has a hand

Hold your hand in mine, Martin Henderson

In the least helpful clue of all, we know that the mystery baby has at least one hand. The nationwide – nay, global – search is now on for one of the 59,166 babies born in Aotearoa in 1992. Are you a 31-year-old Pisces, born in Auckland with a creative spirit, dark hair in your baby photos, at least one hand and fuzzy memories of Temuera Morrison? If so, email or send them a message here on Facebook. 

Shortland Street returns Monday February 5 at 7pm on TVNZ2

Keep going!