What is Dwayne Johnson's heritage? A look at The Rock's multicultural ancestry and childhood in New Zealand

Till 2014, The Rock was unaware that he also happened to be distantly Irish from his father's side of the family

                            What is Dwayne Johnson's heritage? A look at The Rock's multicultural ancestry and childhood in New Zealand
Dwayne Johnson attends the 'Jumanji: The Next Level' UK Film Premiere at BFI Southbank on December 05, 2019, in London, England (Getty Images)

Fans of 'The Rock', which is practically everyone, cannot keep calm as we are barely days away from the premiere of 'Young Rock' — the sitcom based on his personal life. Filled with untold stories from Johnson's childhood, teenage years and youth, 'Young Rock' promises to be immensely entertaining, as evident from the trailer.

The show is all set to premiere on NBC on February 16. As we gear up to catch hilarious glimpses from the life of our favorite star, let's find out a little more about The Rock's heritage and ancestry. 


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What is Dwayne Johnson's heritage?

Born on May 2, 1972, in Hayward, California, Johnson belongs to a family of professional wrestlers. His father was Rocky Johnson, who was the first-ever black man to win the WWF Tag Team Championship while partnering with Tony Atlas. The Rock's maternal grandfather Peter Maivia (aka High Chief) was also a renowned Samoan-American professional wrestler, who promoted National Wrestling Alliance in Hawaii. 

Dwayne Johnson (Getty Images)

Dwayne Johnson's family belongs to a multicultural ethnicity, with Johnson considering himself half-Black Nova Scotian from his father's side and half-Samoan (Polynesian) from his maternal side.

His father's family are descendants of the African-Americans who left America after the end of the American Revolution, choosing to side with the British who promised them freedom. Johnson's paternal grandparents James and Lilian Bowles both were of African descent, while his maternal grandparents Fanene Leifi Pita Maivia and Ofelia “Lia” Fuataga were Samoan.


Till 2014, The Rock was unaware that he also happened to be distantly Irish from his father's side of the family. "I've always felt like I was tough and had a little bit of luck and I can drink," he told Entertainment.ie in an interview while revealing his Irish heritage. 

The Rock's childhood in New Zealand

As a child, Johnson lived with his mother's family for a short while in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand, where he attended Richmond Road Primary School. At this time, he played New Zealand's national sport — rugby. Much later in life, Johnson, who is a pro wrestler and football player, remarked that rugby is the toughest game he has ever played.


During his stay in New Zealand, Johnson watched his grandfather and father participate in wrestling with each other. In fact, American promoter Steve Rickards even televised a weekly wrestling show 'On The Mat', where his father and grandfather appeared regularly. After a while, Johnson returned to the US with his parents but often fondly recalls his time in the country.

Johnson's recognition of his heritage

Interestingly, apart from citizenship in the United States, Johnson also holds Canadian citizenship since he is half-Canadian through his father. The Rock, who is reportedly the highest-paid actor in the world, is also well-known for his philanthropic endeavors.

Apart from establishing his own foundation for terminally-ill and at-risk children, he has time and again donated thousands of dollars for relief efforts from hurricanes and floods. He is known for his generous help for relief during the 2017 Hurricane Harvey or 2018 Hawaii floods. 

Actor Dwayne Johnson and his mother Ata Johnson (Getty Images)

As a recognition of his Samoan ancestry and his service to the Samoan people, Johnson was honored with the prestigious title of "Seiuli" in July 2004 by Malietoa Tanumafili II during his visit to Samoa. A year before that, he did a partial Samoan "pe'a" tattoo on his left side. Johnson has notably starred in the Disney movie 'Moana', playing the mythical Polynesian demigod Maui.

Catch all episodes of 'Young Rock' on NBC from February 16 onwards.

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