Te Wake was born in Dargaville to MÄori parents Ray and Tilly Te Wake. She grew up in Ascot Park, a suburb in Porirua. She moved to Wellington in the early 1990s, and then to Auckland shortly after.
Her first presenting job was for MÄori Television, where she was one of three people fronting TakatÄpui, which is Maori Television's first ever LGBT show. The show began in 2004 and still continues today. Te Wake also joined King Kapisi in presenting the Pasifika 2005 festival, televised on TV2.