|“||Cliff is very "Method"||”|
— Lorenzo Henri, via Kelly Blatz on Talking Dead
|“||It's stressful, being in an apocalpyse.||”|
— Cliff Curtis, promo video, Aug 2015
Cliff Curtis, one of nine children, was born in Rotorua, in the North Island of New Zealand, and is the son of an amateur dancer. Cliff is of Māori descent; his tribal affiliations are Te Arawa and Ngāti Hauiti. As a boy he studied mau rākau, a traditional Māori form of taiaha fighting, with Māori elder Mita Mohi on Mokoia Island, which nurtured his abilities as a performer in kapa haka. Curtis later performed as a breakdancer and then competitively in rock 'n' roll dance competitions. He received his secondary education at Western Heights High School, Rotorua.