Minister backs Shortland St star

By Jimmy Ellingham

Paula Bennett supports 'kind' Blakely

Paula Bennett has reached out to offer her friend support.
Paula Bennett has reached out to offer her friend support.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has swung behind embattled Shortland Street star Teuila Blakely, under siege over a leaked sex tape.

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Bennett is the latest high profile friend to back Blakely after a video of her with Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell was posted online this week.

Blakely, 39, lost a sponsorship deal and suffered a vitriolic backlash, particularly in her native Samoa, in the aftermath.

Yesterday Bennett confirmed she had been in touch with Blakely to offer her support after the scandal broke.

"I support Teuila as a friend in what is a difficult time for her and her family," Bennett said.

"This isn't what defines her, what defines her is the kindness and warmth shown throughout her life as a mother, daughter and friend."

And, after starring in last night's 54-12 win over the Canberra Raiders, Warrior Hurrell also defended Blakely.

He said she had been unfairly treated. It was his fault the tape had emerged because he sent it to a friend.

"We were just mucking around and it was my fault. I put her in a bad situation so hopefully it will just die out and I will try my best to apologise to her and make her feel better. It wasn't right what I did."

He apologised to Blakely and her family for "giving her a bad name".

Blakely was in the crowd for last night's game at Eden Park. Her son Jared, who at 22 is the same age as Hurrell, has taken to Facebook to support his mum.


This isn't what defines her, what defines her
is the kindness and warmth shown throughout
her life as a mother, daughter and friend.

Paula Bennett, Social Development Minister

"I still love my mum and wake up and say good morning just the same as any other day."

He said his mother had done a "million great things", yet had copped abuse for one incident. "It's really not that shocking, we're all entitled to a private life."

On Facebook, Blakely posted a message from her "cherished best friend", actor and writer Oscar Kightley. He said Blakely, who he once dated, was the victim of a "gross breach of her privacy".

"Unless you're committing crimes and hurting people, nobody's private life should be up for judgment. The level of vitriol and abuse has been astounding.

"I am proud of the way my beautiful, intelligent, talented and hardworking friend has kept her head up and handled her business like the champion she is."

Blakely told the Herald this week she knew the matter had caused pain and embarrassment to her family and the Samoan community.

University of Auckland chaplain Uesifili Unasa said the release of the tape could affect the standing of Blakely's village and family.

"Everything that is seen to threaten the prestige and the mana of the family doesn't reflect well on the family and the leadership within those families," he said.

"Although it's unfortunate that people react to the situation in such a raw and personal way, I think every Samoan expects that."

- APNZ

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