Outpouring of love for Shortland St stars in Fiji

By Joanna Mathers

Michael Galvin and Ria Vandervis with a class from Dilkusha Girls School in Fiji. Photo / Jae Frew
Michael Galvin and Ria Vandervis with a class from Dilkusha Girls School in Fiji. Photo / Jae Frew

Shortland Street stars Michael Galvin and Ria Vandervis were received like royalty when they popped into visit a Fijian girls' school.

Galvin and Vandervis (who play Chris Warner and Harper Whitley in the show) have been on location in Fiji filming for episodes that will appear at the end of September.

Also in Fiji are Sam Bunkell (who plays Boyd Rolleston) and Kerry-Lee Dewing (who plays Kylie Brown).

The pair's trip to Dilkusha Girls School, near Suva, rounded off five days of intensive filming both in Denerau and around the Suva area. More than 900 students gathered in the central courtyard to listen to Galvin and Vandervis speak.

They pair also posed for photographs with the children, who are aged between six and 12.

Galvin proved a particular favourite both with the children at the school and with the general public of Fiji.

"It's been overwhelming; we literally can't walk five paces without someone asking for our photograph," he says.

"It's been amazing, but also kind of challenging. But actually kind of quite magical."

Galvin — whose popularity with the Fijian public has led him to being christened "the king of Fiji" by cast and crew — wasn't the only cast member to be flooded with requests for photos or handshakes.

A visit to Nadi airport attracted a hoard of local journalists and onlookers and staff at hotels and local villages have also been overjoyed to see their favourite stars in the flesh.

Shortland St screens five nights a week in Fiji.

Bunkell said the visit was intense. "I still can't get my head around it. People just light up because you happen to be there — it's an amazing feeling."

Children Dilkusha Girls School were not told of the Friday visit until the last moment. "We had to keep it from the children because they would have been too excited for us to teach," said Paulini Dianimoto, who teaches six-year-olds at the school.

"It's actually amazing timing for us, as we have just been teaching children about how to treat visitors," says Dianimoto. "We never knew we would be getting such famous people visiting. Everyone in Fiji just loves the show."

The Shortland Street cast and crew returned to New Zealand yesterday. The regular filming schedule will resume at South Pacific Picture's West Auckland studios next week.

- Herald on Sunday

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