In the first of a series on what some once-famous Kiwis are up to, Natalie Akoorie catches up with pop group TrueBliss.

TrueBliss were the first manufactured pop group of the reality TV era. The five-member girl group were born out of the series Popstars in April 1999, where Joe Cotton, Megan Alatini, Carly Binding, Erika Takacs and Keri Harper were plucked from obscurity and briefly turned into household names overnight.

Their debut album Dream and single Tonight both hit No 1, with platinum sales, and there was a sold-out tour of 17 cities and towns nationwide.

But TrueBliss faded without the momentum of the TV series, which was a precursor to the Idol series and sold to 50 countries around the world.

Binding left the group in 2000 citing personal differences and went on to a solo career while Cotton became a radio announcer and Takacs a television presenter.

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In 2012 Alatini, Cotton, Harper and Takacs reformed the group to release a single for the NZ Child Cancer Foundation. The song was performed live at a Northern Mystics versus NSW Swifts netball game and the single A Minute of One Day was released via iTunes in July 2012.

The foursome recently performed at the 2014 Miss Universe NZ contest.

Joe Cotton

Perhaps the best-known of the group, Cotton slimmed down after TrueBliss disbanded.

In 2000 she joined the covers band The Mermaids after moving from Wellington to Auckland.

Cotton began hosting TV2's Thursday to Saturday M2 show (a graveyard-shift alternative music programme) but it was cancelled in February 2003.

She popped up on the third series of Celebrity Treasure Island in 2004 and became a fill-in host on the C4 music channel show Select Live.

In 2007 Cotton was the winner of Pop's Ultimate Star, which showcased winners of various Kiwi TV singing contests. She appeared in a string of Kiwi shows such as The Great New Zealand Spelling Bee.

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She moved into a radio hosting career, first with The Edge and later with More FM.

Canadian-born Cotton married Daniel Shields on Valentine's Day, 2009, and the day was filmed for reality wedding programme Hitched, which aired on TV3 in July that year.

The 36-year-old went public in September with infertility issues and her desire to be a mum.

Megan Alatini

South African-born Megan Cassie married former All Black Pita Alatini in February 2000.

After TrueBliss ended she opened a hair-braiding shop in Dunedin before reappearing on screens in 2006's NZ Idol as judge alongside Iain Stables and Frankie Stevens.


Megan Alatini and Erika Takacs in September last year. Photo / NZME.

Together with her sisters Monique Cassie and Meryl Cassie, Alatini acted in and recorded music for sci-fi series The Tribe.

She competed on the third season of New Zealand's Dancing with the Stars finishing a controversial second place. The Cassie sisters formed a band Nubian Angelz, performing at private functions, while Alatini continued to appear as a celebrity guest on several shows. She and her husband moved their family to Japan in mid-2008 but were evacuated after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Alatini, now 38 and a mother of three, still acts and sings and became a flight attendant with Air New Zealand this year.

Erika Takacs

After TrueBliss Erika Takacs hosted the weekly Coke RTR Top 20 music show which ran for three years on TV2 from 2000. She also appeared on commercials for the chain store Video Ezy and on Celebrity Treasure Island. She was signed to Sony for a single, Do It, which is still unreleased.

Takacs married stunt co-ordinator Allan Poppleton whose long line of credits include The Last Samurai, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Water Horse, The Hunger Games and The Wolverine.

Takacs, 37, works as Poppleton's stunt co-ordinator and the couple, who have three children, travel the world for their work.

Keri Harper

Just 19 when she started in TrueBliss, Harper has kept the lowest profile since leaving the group.

She has made apprearances at Auckland's Coca Cola Christmas in the Park in 2002 and 2005, and was in the series final of So You Wanna Be A Popstar?

Harper continued with theatre work, including a stint with Michael Barrymore in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.

In 2007 she competed in Pop's Ultimate Star, but was the first contestant to be eliminated. The same year she married Sam Coxhead and the couple now live in Taupo with daughters Sophie, 5, and Lucy, 3.

Harper, 35, sings with band The Live Wires and as a duo with Wayne Cornwall. She also owns design company Pickle Design and she and her husband co-own home-building companies Design Builders Taupo and Design Builders Tauranga.

Carly Binding

Arguably the most successful member, Carly Binding left TrueBliss and launched a solo career in 2000.

She scored six top-40 hits and a gold-selling album Passenger which peaked at No 6 on the NZ charts, as well as donating her hit song This Is It to the New Zealand Aids Foundation's "Love Is ..." campaign.

Her last album, So Radiate, was released in July 2006. In 2007 Binding was invited to play at the music festival SXSW in Austin, Texas, which led to her spending a further four months in the United States playing regular shows at venues on the Sunset Strip and in Los Angeles.

In 2012 the classically trained singer took up musical theatre.

Now 36, Binding lives in Auckland with former Kiwi league star and All Black Matthew Ridge and their 4-year-old son, London.