Hayes to warm RadioLive drive seat as TVNZ continues to lose staff, and John Key flexes digits to keep UK Prime Minister in the rugby loop.
As a former international model, she's used to men falling under her spell, but now Rachel Hunter can use magic charms and potions in a professional capacity: as a qualified witch.
Last week, Hunter completed a US$400 ($489) class in witchcraft under the tutelage of world-acclaimed witch High Priestess Laurie Cabot, 79, of Salem, Massachusetts.
Cabot's daughter, Penny, also a witch, tweeted a photo of Hunter at the "second degree witchcraft class". She added: "Yes, Rachel's a Cabot witch."
The three-day Witchcraft II workshop - eligible only to those who have completed Cabot's Witchcraft I course - studied herbs, spells, crystals, astrology and potions. Graduates were awarded a certificate in second stage witchcraft. Hunter is understood to have qualified at both stage one and two.
Cabot (born Mercedes Kearsey), author of The Power of the Witch and The Witch in Every Woman, says she has been teaching witchcraft for more than 40 years. She lists a number of wiccan workshops on her website, including courses in psychic self-defence, crystal healing, magic drinking potions and wand-making where students are asked to "bring a branch, twig or wooden spoon".
The witchcraft classes are not the first time Hunter's dabbled in the dark arts. In 2006 she took part in Keith Barry's TV magic show with actor Elijah Wood in a Russian roulette-style segment involving four plastic cones and a metal spike.
Cabot, a pagan, did not return The Diary's messages over Easter, but Hunter's representative, Andy Haden, said the mystic hobby "is only just a bit of fun. Rachel's not really into witchcraft". The beauty pageant contestants at next week's Miss World Fiji competition will be hoping Hunter doesn't cast a hex on their chances at the Miss World final in China later this year. Haden says Hunter intends to be one of the celebrity judges selecting Fiji's representative.
TV BABE GOES RADIO GAGA
TV3 reporter Samantha Hayes has returned from her one-year stint as the network's Australian correspondent and will briefly take up the reins at RadioLive's afternoon show, made vacant following Paul Henry's departure in February.
Hayes, who has experience on student radio, will host RadioLive drive from today for the next two weeks. RadioLive is the talkback station owned and operated by MediaWorks New Zealand, the company that owns TV3.
Insiders say Hayes' first love is radio and she has the promise to be a long-term talent for the station. She is one of the personalities keeping the drive seat warm until December, when, The Diary understands, TV3 political editor Duncan Garner will become the station's permanent drive-time host. He will leave 3 News and the parliamentary press gallery after 15 years in the industry.
Garner's boss, TV3 news director Mark Jennings, has been reluctant to lose him before the end of the year while rival One News and its management team are in a state of flux. Several positions at TVNZ remain unfilled, including political editor, which has been empty since Guyon Espiner left late last year.
TVNZ was dealt another body blow on Thursday when Paul Maher, head of sales and marketing and a member of its executive board, announced he was jumping ship to TV3 as chief executive of television, starting July 6.
"Maher was immediately locked out of everything at TVNZ and will have to serve out his leave at home," a source said.
Maher appeared unfazed. "The feedback on my move to TV3 has been incredibly positive. I have a real passion for television and I think we can really shake things up," he told The Diary.
TORY TEXT CHUMS
Britain's Times newspaper last week referred to our Prime Minister, John Key, as one of David Cameron's "best friends on the foreign circuit". Last year, the British leader named JK as one of five guests he'd invite to a notional stag party.
The moderate Tories are said to keep in touch by text. On what? Pressing matters of state? Fixing the world economy? Taxes? Healthcare? Terrorism? Nuclear-free security? "I text him the rugby results," Key told The Diary. "Especially during the World Cup."
THEY CALL IT PUPPY LOVE
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, who will perform a one-off concert in Rotorua in two weeks, is unlikely to bring her new love - puppy Nyack. The Pomeranian-Yorkshire terrier, who has travelled with her mistress to New York's Metropolitan Opera, would be subjected to New Zealand's strict quarantine rules.
Nyack, who made an appearance with Te Kanawa at the Cambridge Union Society in February, is expected, however, to tour with the diva to upcoming concerts in Wales, Peru, Austria and Argentina.
"I waited more than 40 years to get a dog," Te Kanawa told the Sydney Morning Herald last week. "I just couldn't have one [due to touring] and I waited and waited. She's my little buddy, it's so good."