From politics and business to sport and entertainment, New Zealand is brimming with power couples, calling the shots in their respective fields.
Spy editor Ricardo Simich spoke to a fresh wave of pairings who shared the secrets to making their relationships work.
Jacinda Ardern and fiance Clarke Gayford were the ultimate political power couple last year. But when she stepped down as Prime Minister after the summer break, the spotlight started shining on a new wave of couples.
Carmel Sepuloni and Daren Kamali
Elevated to the position of one of the country’s most powerful women in January, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Arts and Culture, Carmel Sepuloni, 46, has the perfect sounding board in husband, celebrated poet Daren Kamali, 47, who is also a writer, musician, teacher and museum curator.
The couple married in Fiji in 2018 with 150 guests from all over the world in attendance. Spy has seen the Auckland-based pair cut a swathe supporting the many cultural celebrations and red-carpet launches of the arts.
They say the key to their success is being mindful and grateful for the opportunities they have and the people in their lives.
“‘Gratitude in the attitude’ is how we frame it to the kids,” the pair said.
Acknowledging his wife’s unique position, Kamali says he accompanies her when she needs him to and happily carries her handbag.
“When she’s been out and about by herself working long days or weeks, I just pour her a wine when she gets home.”
Sepuloni tries her best to be there for her husband’s special moments - book launches, poetry performances and arts events in her capacity as “supportive wifey”.
“I’m his biggest cheerleader, clapping the loudest and proudest in the audience.”
Chris Bishop and Jenna Raeburn
A Wellington beltway couple through and through are National Party power MP Chris Bishop, 39, and wife of four years, Jenna Raeburn.
When Spy celebrated their engagement in 2017, Raeburn was the director of prominent government relations firm Barton Deakin. Since then, the couple have a 1-year-old son and Raeburn is now general manager corporate affairs at Wellington International Airport.
“Understanding the nature of each other’s jobs really well means we can give each other good advice and support,” Bishop says.
He says that in between their obvious love of their son, Jeremy, and dog, Ladyhawke, they share a mutual love of hard rock music, red wine and travel.
Chloe Swarbrick and Nadine Walker
Another couple on the political beltway are Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and her UK fiancee of two years - Nadine Walker. The pair are known to be private about their relationship.
Walker is director of engagement and communications for The Aotearoa Circle, co-founded by the late Sir Rob Fenwick, a group of public and private-sector leaders committed to halting the decline of New Zealand’s natural capital.
She has previously worked for the Western Australian State Parliament, the Australian Senate, the Auckland Council and as chief press secretary for the Green Party.
Although private about their relationship, Swarbrick told the Herald on Sunday last month, “I can tell you that I am very, very lucky to have somebody who puts up with me. She’s great. She’s been really fundamental to helping me navigate, and personally build a robust community that is supporting me to do the stuff that I do publicly.”
She said the pair had discussed children.
“When I think about the idea of having a family of my own … it’s a little bit harder for us to do it than you know, your average straight couple. I mean, obviously, we have the privilege of kind of the resources that we do. But there are a few more things to work through.”
Andrew Kirton and Camilla Belich
In February, PR man and former Labour General-Secretary, Andrew Kirton, became Prime Minster Chris Hipkins’ chief of staff. He is married to Auckland Labour List MP Camilla Belich, who is the party’s junior whip and a rising star within the party.
Belich is the granddaughter of former Wellington mayor Sir James Belich and says she and Kirton both really care about what they do and feel humbled and lucky to have the opportunity to work in the political arena.
Belich says, “We’ve been together for more than 18 years, and we have three kids, so we have learned to work as a team on the home front.”
She says they are lucky to have lots of family and childcare support and both feel guilty when they miss their kids’ midweek sports games.
“We’re lucky that we get to see each other at work - although very occasionally.”
Desley Simpson and Peter Goodfellow
They may have been power brokers together on the right for 15 years, but Simpson’s star rose in October when she became Auckland’s deputy mayor.
The power roles seem to tip nicely between Simpson and husband - rich lister and former National Party President and current board member - Peter Goodfellow, 70.
Simpson says their success as a couple is defined by being each other’s biggest cheerleaders with friendship, humour and respect.
“We share each other’s challenges and understand the variety and diversity of the teams we both work with.
“No matter how busy our schedules, working, supporting and promoting the Auckland and NZ we love - including many not-for-profit organisations, we always make time for each other.”
Even though they are public figures, Simpson says it’s essential to have a private life and the love the support of their family and friends outside of the spotlight.
The couple who trains together, stays together. A number of other duos are following n the footsteps of sporting royalty like Richie and Gemma McCaw, Dan and Honor Carter and Shaun and Kayla Johnson.
Phoenix Karaka and Patrick Tuipulotu
The Silver Fern, 29, and her All Blacks partner, 30, are at the top of their respective games.
It’s a juggling act combining raising their 2-year-old daughter Pāma, travelling for their respective sports and off-court and field action.
“Communication is a must in all stages of being new parents and athletes,” says Karaka.
“We are aware of each other’s schedules and when s*** gets hectic for one, the other can pick up the slack.”
Karaka says they make time to be alone together, despite being pressed for time.
Tuipulotu adds that the key to supporting each other in their respective roles is being able to empathise and relate to what they both do.
“We both understand the stresses of high-performance sport and often help each other around common challenges in our work environments.”
The Blues player says the couple enjoy training with each other in their off-seasons.
“We get the chance to see who’s got the better skills between the two of us so it’s always good fun and very competitive.
“Usually when we get home from training and games, I like to leave rugby and netball at the door. It gives time to switch off and focus on relaxing with Phoe and Pāma.”
Tuipulotu says he follows Karaka’s lead with organisation and he’s pretty lucky she makes sure their schedules and timetables are integrated.
Move over Graeme and Robyn Hart. Nick Mowbray and Jaimee Lupton too. Other business duos have been turning heads over the past year.
Anna Mowbray and Ali Williams
Mowbray’s sister Anna, 40, has new interests outside of the multi billion-dollar Zuru toy empire she shares with her two brothers.
She has been involved in helping several local start-ups, such is her passion for entrepreneurialism. Mowbray recently entered the HR and recruiting space by launching recruitment app Zeil, which she has said she created to help job seekers break down barriers and build CVs.
Her partner of four years, former All Black Ali Williams, 42, has gone into property, for which he says he has always had a passion in both the commercial and residential space.
He is the newest member of the Ardmore Group, located in central Auckland and Mowbray says she couldn’t be more proud of Williams and his colleagues when they opened their latest project, Broadway Food Company - an impressive all-encompassing food hall which, she said on social media, was changing the centre of Papakura.
The couple’s home renovation project - which involved demolishing a $24 million waterfront Westmere home in 2021 to make way for a new mega-mansion - looks set to be finished by the summer.
Claire Sullivan Kraus and Pablo Kraus
They are one of the most stylish couples in Auckland.
Sullivan Kraus - originally from Christchurch - successfully cut her publishing chops in New York and founded Denizen Magazine 14 years ago. She serves as editor-in-chief and publisher and is firmly placed as New Zealand’s authority on the art of living well.
Since 2017, Kraus has managed the family business, PK Group - an organics empire the NBR says is worth $230 million - and is CEO of its Ecostore. Other PK businesses include Huckleberry Farms, Chantal Organics, Wild Earth Organics and Far North haven Eagles Nest.
Sullivan Kraus tells Spy the couple lead very separate lives during a business day, rarely talking during work hours because they are so busy in their vastly different worlds of business.
“Pablo and I are also very different people. I am a heart-on-my-sleeve kind of person, while Pablo plays things very close to his chest. It seems a cliche to say it, but in our case, opposites attract, and inherently complement each other.”
She says first and foremost they 100 per cent trust each other and the bond between themselves and their two children is very strong.
“All decisions we make are done together and are ultimately for the betterment and happiness of our lives as a family.
“When we get home — and typically after we’ve put our children to bed — we’ll finally have the chance to offload and share our various work issues. My husband is the person I rely upon as my business confidant because he is so calm, practical and level-headed, and wise beyond his years. I trust his guidance implicitly.”
Anna and Jay Reeve
The couple were each in the public eye before they met - Anna, 36, a model and influencer and Jay, 40 a radio host and TV personality.
But it’s their co-founding roles in RTD drink phenomenon Pals that has earned them a spot on the list. Business is now booming - it could be said it’s very rare for the pastel-coloured cans to not be spotted at a Kiwi party.
Last year, with business partners Nick Marshall and Mat Croad, they signed a three-year deal to supply drinks at major music festivals, concerts and tours, including at Spark Arena and Rhythm & Vines
Launched in 2019, Pal’s is considered one of New Zealand’s fastest-growing RTD brands and local sales last year were up 65 per cent year on the previous year, while sales in Australia were up 485 per cent.
The Reeves married 10 years ago and are parents to twin boys Oscar and Hunter.
Anna - who is starring in Three’s upcoming show The Traitors NZ - says they are big communicators.
“We have big check-ins with one another and talk through any and all things going on in our life and always make sure to resolve conflict rather than stew on it.
“We try to make time for us as a couple regularly. We know that when we are at our best in our relationship that it has a flow-on effect for everything else in our lives.”
She says they both try and to fill each other’s cups with what they need to feel loved and appreciated.
“I’m lucky Jay takes this very seriously and we really do operate as a team.”
Lisa King and Matt Johns
After a busy year launching their successful AF Drinks into the US, this business-savvy couple, both 45, will marry next month in Singapore.
Social entrepreneur founder of Eat My Lunch, Lisa and fiance and strategic consultant Matt have been together nearly five years.
Lisa laughs and says she is definitely the boss and they both have clarity in their roles and knowing who will make the ultimate decision.
“We have mutual respect and appreciate that we both have different perspectives on the business, which means we don’t always have to agree, but our views help us to make better decisions for AF.
“We always put ourselves as a couple first and we make sure we spend time and effort on our relationship beyond just work.”
Bridgette Jackson and Nick Scarlett
They may help others to de-couple, but this pairing is very much together.
Jackson is CEO of the company she founded, Equal Exes, and Scarlett is CFO. The business guides people through the process involved in divorce/separation settlements. They say they have aligned beliefs and share the same core values in the businesses they are building and unconditionally support each other.
“We both come from professional services backgrounds that together include financial services, executive appointments, charity/foundation services and legal,” they say.
“We are now using our skills, experiences and learnings to expand our reach and help individuals, couples and now corporates through Equal Exes and Equal Workplace Support.”
Kennedy Anderson and Oliver Tyack
Earlier this year Anderson was named as one of the top young entrepreneurs to follow by The Wall Street Times. The 25-year-old co-founded The Whitening Co as well as several other businesses - Kolab, Kollection and Kontent and Co. He came to national attention as the entrepreneur with get up and go on The Apprentice at just 23 in 2021.
His partner, Tyack, 27, is the area operations manager at St John New Zealand.
The pair, who have just returned from Europe, say they have joint goals.
“Oliver and I have weekly re-group meetings on a Monday evening where we run over how our business is going, what we want to achieve next and realign with the goals we set for the year. It’s super motivating knowing we are both working towards the same dreams,” says Anderson.
“Even if we are both doing our own jobs/hustles during a busy week, we both know and understand why we are working so hard and that makes the grind worth it because you are tackling for each other as well as yourself.”
Powerhouse Director Sir Peter Jackson and producer Dame Fran Walsh have been the ultimate power couple in the entertainment industry for years, followed by honorary Kiwis, director James Cameron - who has been churning out Avatar movies from Wellington - and wife and fellow eco-warrior, actor Suzy Amis. Newlyweds, director Taika Waititi and popstar Rita Ora have become a global power couple since they made this list early last year.
JJ Fong and Marty Smith
In January, A-list actor Fong married veteran cinematographer Smith, with fellow actor Antonia Prebble officiating the marriage.
The pair work together on Creamerie, which dropped season 2 this week on TVNZ+. They met on the set of Step Dave.
Smith is a stalwart of the Kiwi TV industry - he was director of photography on Outrageous Fortune and Westside and has worked on One Lane Bridge and The Brokenwood Mysteries.
Fong’s career is going from strength to strength - she recently starred alongside Celeste Barber on Netflix’s Wellmania.
Kim Crossman and Tom Walsh
Actress Crossman, 32, and Walsh, 43, a talented cameraman and behind-the-scenes pro, met last year while working together on TVNZ’s Snackmasters and have been inseparable since, travelling throughout NZ and of course Crossman’s second base - Hollywood.
“No matter what time one of us has to get up to start work - often very early - we both get up and help each other get ready for the day. Make tea, make lunches and put little love notes in our bags,” they tell Spy.
They say a key to their success is having grace and flexibility.
“Often in our line of work, we have to travel last-minute, work extended hours and can miss dinners, important events or planned dates. So having a healthy level of flexibility and kindness and understanding is super important.”
Crossman says Walsh’s talent, work ethic and the way he conducts himself is so attractive to her.
“Tom lights up the room and makes everyone feel good and important.”
He says: “Kim has the most professional work attitude and she is the most kind and caring person. She makes everyone feel appreciated.”
Outside work the loved-up couple, who say they are very affectionate and obsessed with each other, are willing to try anything, especially if it involves adrenaline.
“We always share our dreams, goals, wants and needs then become very intentional about making them happen for each other.”
Frankie Adams and Nick Chrisp
They have become the entertainment couple to watch.
Adams, 29, is bound to make a sensation on Prime Video’s Aussie drama The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart next month.
Chrisp, 25, is one half of NZ electronic music duo SACHI. Last week, their song Whole Again was No 1 on the Official NZ Music Chart’s hot 40 singles list.
The pair recently celebrated a year of dating and seen getting loved up in LA with fellow Kiwi entertainment couple Grace Palmer and Rawiri Jobe at the same pool party.
Media tend to have lots of couple-ups. There is of course the first couple of broadcasting, Newstalk ZB double morning act Mike Hosking and Kate Hawkesby who have been on the airwaves together in some shape or form for more than 20 years.
NZ Herald editor-at-large Shayne Currie has been married to Marilynn McLachlan, editor of New Zealand Woman’s Weekly for six years. I MC’d their wedding, as I did last year’s nuptials between Weekend Herald editor Stuart Dye and Reset columnist Sinead Corcoran Dye.
Newsroom co-editor Tim Murphy also married Newshub National correspondent Amanda Gillies earlier this year.
Jack Tame and Mava Moayyed
Weeks after Spy announced them as a couple, TVNZ 1′s news host Jack Tame married fellow TVNZ news reporter Mava Moayyed in a small ceremony last month.
“Mava and I were legally married in a really humble ceremony at home,” Tame told the Herald at the time.
“Mava is a Baha’i and it’s important in the Baha’i faith for couples to marry before moving in together.
“We’re having a wedding celebration with family and friends next year which we’re really excited about.”
Moayyed is mum to a young school-age son, Rumi, whose name reflects his mother’s Iranian heritage.
Tame – who also hosts Newstalk ZB’s Saturday Morning show – gave an insight into the pair’s personal life in April.
“Between us, living in two different houses, in different suburbs, with her son and various jobs to balance, we decided to see if we could get by with just one vehicle.
“The theory was pretty simple. Whenever I could, I would ride my bike. She would walk more and use public transport. Both of us would have to be a bit thoughtful about our requirements in advance… we tried to plan out our weeks as best we could.”
Andrew Saville and Helen Castles
Early January this year, Spy revealed 1News sports presenter Andrew Saville and fellow TVNZ reporter Helen Castles were dating - months later they announced their engagement.
The couple’s roles cross over - last month they headed to Hamilton to cover the Super Rugby Pacific, Chiefs v Crusaders Grand Final for 1News.
The sports presenter has been married twice previously and is a dad to twin sons. Castles is also a mum to twin boys.
Sid and Chand Sahrawat
They’ve been in the Kiwi restaurant industry for years but the opening of their new eatery, Cassia on Federal Street, in April put a new pep in their step.
The pair have been hit by Covid-19 lockdowns and flooding at their Forte Lane restaurant, also named Cassia.
The Sahrawats - who also own Sid at The French Café, and KOL - have shown how working in pairs gives you strength in hospitality.
Chand says they recognise each other’s strengths and weaknesses through their areas of expertise, and they work within those boundaries.
“I don’t tell Sid how to plan a menu or how to run his kitchen and Sid doesn’t tell me how to create HR processes for example. We try to complement each other with our skills so they fit together like a puzzle.
“Listening to each other, sometimes not instantly but eventually, but never rubbing it in by saying ‘I told you so.’ We also take our team along on decision-making so they are heard and communicated with and have buy-in on the direction in which the business is going. "
Josh and Helen Emett
This foodie power couple are soon to open their third restaurant, Gilt Brasserie, on the bottom floor of the Auckland District Law Society building in O’Connell St.
And Helen’s planning to step more into the limelight, with her husband already a household name having been a judge on MasterChef NZ.
The pair officially became a hospo duo with the opening of The Oyster Inn on Waiheke Island in 2020, followed soon after by fine dining hotspot Onslow on Princes St. They had been in New Zealand for more than 10 years after Josh brought UK-born Helen home.
The parents of two boys are currently in Europe, celebrating both turning 50.
“We definitely focus on working towards our strengths and divide and conquer in various areas of the business,” Josh tells Spy.
“When it comes to our vision for our restaurants Helen and I are completely aligned and we have always shared the same values which makes decision-making very easy.”
A business manager has helped them realise just how important their unique skills bring to their establishments.
“We work hard to set boundaries so we can keep balance at home and keep time for the family where the boys are our main focus,” says Josh.
“We are great friends and have always been very aware that our health and happiness come first and don’t sweat the small stuff.”
There are plenty of stylish couples behind some of our favourite Kiwi fashion brands - like Workshop’s Chris and Helen Cherry, Zambesi’s Neville and Liz Findlay, and Deadly Ponies’ Liam Bowden and Steven Boyd.
Caitlin Crisp and Andrew Vincent
It’s only been five years since designer Caitlin Crisp appeared on Project Runway NZ - and she is already a respected presence on the fashion scene. Networking and socialising are as much part of the job as talented designs, and that’s where her fiance, property development manager Andrew Vincent, 29, complements her beautifully.
Later this year they will head to Denver to meet Vincent’s sister and then to the fashion capital of New York, where Crisp will look for inspiration for her fashion label and he for his property business — and also Crisp’s wedding dress.
“We have no secrets,” says Crisp on what makes them work.
“We share everything with each other and it doesn’t go outside our safe space.”
Crisp says they both celebrate each other’s wins - even the little ones.
“Andrew is away for work in Tauranga two nights a week working on property developments, so we always have Thursday date night, a quality time to reconnect and switch off from busy work weeks.”