Stunning photography takes NZ fashion and Maori heritage to world stage.

What do you get when you put together a Hollywood action hero, a Maori spiritual guide, an American magazine and one of the world's most celebrated fine art photographers who calls New Zealand home?

"A cultural enlightenment," Manu Bennett tells The Diary.

Bennett, who is in New Zealand shooting scenes on the American fantasy TV show The Shannara Chronicles, joined Mikaara Kirkwood, an artist and model on a photography shoot commissioned for the glossy pages of Satellite magazine, a fashion and lifestyle bible based in Los Angeles, to promote New Zealand.

The theme was art and design from around the globe, and the aim of the New Zealand editorial is to evoke powerful images of Kiwi cultural heritage on a world stage. It's high-fashion tourism. For Bennett, who has Te Arawa and Ngati Kahungunu affiliations, the fashion shoot was poignant and moving.


"It was an amazing cultural experience for me, like nothing I've ever done. I grew up in Australia and I don't speak the Maori language, and I'm on the fence a bit with my taonga, but working alongside Spiros and Mikaara, who had all the Maori wisdom, knowledge and energy, it was a beautiful learning experience for me. And it will be an experience for the readers."

The shoot is the brainchild of Spiros Poros - a photographer who has fans in Harvey Keitel, Keira Knightley and superstar Jennifer Lopez, whom he captured with his camera at the Acropolis in Greece six years ago. Greek-born Poros, who split last year from his former model wife, Kylie Bax, with whom he has three young daughters, lives in Auckland. He works for various international and local publications.

"He's a world-class artist," Bennett said. "When Spiros calls you jump at the chance to work with him. He's a master of photography. It's like working with Peter Jackson; he's an artist and you know what the standard is. His work is recognised all over the world."

Satellite magazine said the nation's profile will be well received on the global stage. Shot in an Auckland quarry, it combines New Zealand fashion within a strong Maori cultural context.

"We are very familiar with Manu's acting work as well as Mikaara's work. With Spiros' stunning photography and the styling of the shoot, the final product will be epic," said editor-in-chief William Montalvo yesterday.

Bennett says he is looking at launching a range of suits with Kiwi menswear label RJB and "combining the best of New Zealand quality with iconic images of strength and aroha".

Bennett hires new spin doctor

The investigative journalist Phil Kitchin is taking up a new role - as press secretary to Paula Bennett.

Kitchin, who won the industry's reporter of the year award four times, starts at the end of the month, his new boss said.

Paula Bennett has hired a new spin doctor. Photo / Alex Speirs
Paula Bennett has hired a new spin doctor. Photo / Alex Speirs

"I'm really excited about the opportunity of working with Phil. He brings intelligence, integrity and common sense," Bennett told The Diary. "We both have a shared interest in doing what's right for New Zealand, it's what drives us."

Kitchin added: "Paula has awesome powers of persuasion and she talked me into it by asking me to do something good for the country."

Kitchin has most recently been doing work for the Treasury. He joins a long list of journalists who have left the news business to become political spin doctors.

Nicky Watson's nuptials imminent

She was set to remarry during the Easter break, but blonde bikini model Nicky Watson could walk down the aisle any day, according to the Daily Mail Australia.

Watson, formerly married to Warriors boss Eric Watson, said "yes" to her celebrity chef boyfriend Pete Evans when he proposed in New York a year ago.

They had planned to say "I do" over Easter but postponed the ceremony. It's not clear why. Word is, the My Kitchen Rules star and his Kiwi partner will tie the knot in a secret and intimate ceremony on their Queensland farm in front of close friends and family, including Evans' young daughters Indii and Chilli from a previous marriage.