It’s that time of year when Spy editor Ricardo Simich gives out his annual awards for the most head-turning people.
TV and news engagements, weddings, break-ups and hook-ups
Couplings in TV News land started off this year when we reported 1News sports presenter Andrew Saville had found romance with colleague Helen Castles in January.
The relationship went up a level in April, with Castles showing off an impressive diamond engagement ring at the beach. All eyes are on the pair for a summer wedding.
In April, Spy revealed another TVNZ romance between Q+A host Jack Tame and Sunday reporter Mava Moayyed. Tame, also the host of ZB’s Saturday Morning show, and Moayyed had been dating for more than a year.
A month later the pair were married in a low-key ceremony at home, with the pair planning to hold a bigger wedding celebration this summer. It’s a sure bet Moayyed’s school-age son, Rumi, will play a special part in the ceremony.
Sadly, in media and showbiz land there were break-ups too.
In May, Newshub sports presenter Andrew Gourdie and wife — former journalist and now communications specialist Kate — called it quits.
“After 12 years of marriage and the birth of two incredible boys, we have come to the conclusion that we are better as friends,” Kate told Spy.
It was a tumultuous year for Kate, who has now gone back to her maiden name of Lynch.
In September, Lynch resigned from her full-time role in the office of Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown, as head of communications and government relations in the mayoral office, to pursue other opportunities.
Lynch recently told Spy she was assessing a bright future for 2024, and for the time being, her family was her number-one priority.
In July, we revealed one of New Zealand’s most beloved acting couples had sadly called time on their 16-year marriage. Representatives for Sara Wiseman 51, and Craig Hall, 49, confirmed the split.
In July we announced that broadcaster Wilhelmina Shrimpton and her husband, insurance broker Mike Sanders, had separated after five years of marriage and more than 10 years together.
“Mike and I have indeed chosen to go our separate ways, but it’s been really positive, amicable and we remain friends,” Shrimpton told Spy. Sanders also said the separation was mutual.
Shrimpton, a former reporter for Newshub, was one of many staff who suddenly found themselves without a job in March when Today FM came to an abrupt end. Since then, Shrimpton has started her own media business, Wils & Co.
Last month Shrimpton went public in Paris with the new man in her life, rugby referee Ben O’Keeffe, who was on the referee squad for the Rugby World Cup.
Since then, their Instagrams have constantly lit up with loved-up moments at numerous events, including attending the Melbourne Cup together and holidays in Fiji and Queenstown.
The Olympian OnlyFans surprise
Olympic rower Robbie Manson told Spy in June he was using adult subscription site OnlyFans to help reignite his Olympic sporting dreams.
Manson rowed at the London and Rio Olympics in 2012 and 2016 and was selected for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, which were postponed due to the pandemic.
The disappointment and burnout took its toll and Manson took some time out. During his break from the relentless grind, he ventured into personal training and working with horses, keeping his body in peak condition.
In March, Manson was named in the Rowing New Zealand elite training squad.
Manson, who is openly gay, told Spy that he didn’t just join OnlyFans, known for sexual content where adult entertainers can make hundreds of thousands of dollars, to raise money for his Olympic dreams. He also made it his mission to promote healthy masculinity, challenge homophobia in sports and raise awareness about mental health.
The Cambridge-based athlete stressed that he would not be posting anything explicit.
In September, he used the site to let fans know he and rowing partner Ben Mason had managed to qualify for a place at the Paris Olympics in the men’s double skull at the World Rowing Championships in Serbia, but stipulated he still needed to be selected by NZ in February.
Actor of the year
Actor Robyn Malcolm has outshone all her counterparts with two very different television shows this year.
Her drug-deal-gone-awry series Far North with Temuera Morrison was a smash hit with audiences, followed by solid drama After the Party.
Malcolm not only starred in the show, but also co-created it with celebrated screenwriter Dianne Taylor and co-produced the series.
A month before, audiences were blown away by her performance in Far North, which one critic touted as the best drama that has ever been created in NZ. Malcolm spilled some of the show’s secrets.
“She’s not Botoxed, she hasn’t had a facelift, she’s not appearance obsessed,” Malcolm told Spy of her character, Penny, whose world implodes when she accuses her husband, Phil, of a sex crime against her daughter Grace’s male teenage friend - but nobody believes her.
“Hollywood would present these women wearing white and smiling a lot and laughing a lot to make them acceptable to an audience,” said Malcolm.
“But women don’t tend to be like that. There’s a lot of history, there’s a lot of fierceness.”
Like Malcolm is in real life, her character Penny is a one-woman environmental activist who, the actress said, is also a bit of an idiot at times but will fight to the death.
The result was a tour de force for Malcolm. Not only is she bound to be top of local nominations for After the Party, but the response in Australia and the UK, where the show also screens, is bound to get her some international recognition.
The stork deliveries
The stork came to TV News land this year. In May, AM host Melissa Chan-Green welcomed her second child, Mabel, with husband Caspar Green, a little sister for their son, Busby. Chan-Green’s colleague Michael O’Keeffe welcomed a third child with his partner, Alexis, baby girl, Te Kāhui - little sister to Coco and Noah.
Over at TVNZ, 1News business reporter Katie Bradford welcomed her first child, a baby girl.
Former Three sports journalist Ashlee Tulloch proudly displayed her baby bump while working tirelessly to interview some of the world’s biggest sporting stars at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July and August.
“The adrenaline and excitement of it all was enough to keep me going, even as a non-coffee drinker. Fortunately, my health was great, and I tried to take the time each night on the pitch to appreciate how special it was for a female presenter to be visibly pregnant working at the biggest women’s sporting event on the planet,” Tulloch told Spy.
At the end of September, Tulloch and partner Jebbe welcomed a beautiful baby girl.
Other notable additions this year include former All Black great Richie McCaw and wife Gemma’s third daughter, Ella, a younger sister to Charlotte and Grace. And just weeks ago reality stars and influencers Matilda and Art Green welcomed their third child, Penelope, a little sister to Autumn and Milo.
It was all about Jason … and the Hoff
Hollywood star Jason Momoa mixed in all sorts of fun while filming his series Chief of War in Northland and Auckland.
He drank his Meili Vodka with former and current All Blacks on set. Momoa then launched the vodka into New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands with an event at members-only club Shy Guy in Victoria Park Market, attended by A-listers including MMA fighter Israel Adesanya.
Momoa followed that up by personally hosting Meili tastings at some of Auckland’s best hospo establishments.
Momoa took his two teenage children, Lola and Nakoa-Wolf, to the Rugby World Cup jersey launch for his favourite sports team in the world, the All Blacks, at Auckland’s Q Theatre.
His love affair with the country kept going. He celebrated his 44th birthday in Queenstown in August, followed by watching the All Blacks play Australia in Dunedin. He also went to France to cheer on the ABs during the RWC. Spy reported a few weeks ago that Momoa is due back in Godzone next month to start filming Minecraft in West Auckland.
Former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff also gave Kiwi fans across the country a thrill when he and Kiwi funnyman Rhys Darby completed a road trip in an unscripted reality show called Hoff the Beaten Track.
Hasselhoff and Darby’s journey took them from Stewart Island to Auckland. News organisations worldwide reported the many selfies which Hasselhoff dutifully posed for along the journey.
The remoteness of Stewart Island and Milford Sound - which The Hoff calls the eighth wonder of the world - and hanging off the Sky Tower were highlights.
The Kiwi streaming star
Kiwi actress Luciane Buchanan not only appeared on a top-rating Netflix show this year but also became the top search on entertainment bible IMDb.
Buchanan played Rose Larkin opposite Gabriel Basso as Peter Sutherland in the Netflix thriller The Night Agent, which gained her fans around the world.
When we caught up with Buchanan in April, she was filming Jason Momoa’s Chief of War, where she plays Queen Ka’ahumanu, starring alongside fellow Kiwis Cliff Curtis and Temuera Morrison. She said she was thrilled with the global attention of The Night Agent, yet very humbled and a little overwhelmed.
This year Buchanan also starred alongside Matt Whelan in Kiwi film-maker Scott Walker’s streaming ‘creature feature’ success story The Tank, which was filmed in West Auckland and portrayed an abandoned Oregon coastal property that contains a disused water tank.
The political hostesses with the mostest
Billionaire philanthropist Jillian Friedlander and multi-millionaire Gilda Kirkpatrick both earned the title “hostess with the mostest” leading up to October’s election.
In September, Friedlander hosted what we dubbed the most stylish event of the political season, with Act deputy leader Brooke van Velden as one of her guest speakers at her grand Remuera home.
The event marked 130 years of women’s suffrage and was a pink-themed, al fresco lunch event with luxurious trimmings.
Kirkpatrick held three political events at her famous clifftop Paritai Drive mansion in the lead-up to polling day.
She hosted glittering Meet the Candidate nights for Act Leader David Seymour, NZ First leader Winston Peters and then-National Party MP for Tāmaki, Simon O’Connor, as well as a ticketed event where guests were able to meet many of the impressive women on the National Party List.
Peters is now once again Deputy Prime Minister, sharing the role with Seymour in a National-led Government. Van Velden went on to take the seat of Tāmaki off O’Connor, turning the once true-blue electorate pink.
Billionaires galore in Te Arai
Billionaire Nick Mowbray and fiancee Jaimee Lupton joined the ever-growing list of the super-rich who have holiday homes in the golf course havens of Te Arai and Tara Iti, north of Auckland.
In September they broke ground on their build in Te Arai, which is being designed by Auckland-based architect John Irving. Te Arai sections are said to sell for more than $3 million, and Spy has heard of uber-wealthy buyers buying two – and, in one case, three.
We recently heard whispers that Mowbray’s fellow billionaire friend Harry Hart, son of New Zealand’s richest man, Graeme Hart, was building up there too.
Mowbray and Lupton also recently moved back into their completely renovated Coatesville mansion, Mahoenui Valley.
Celebrated interior designer Rufus Knight created the decor of the expansive house along with Lupton, including a new wellness centre.
The couple, who are expecting their first child, have already entertained at the home, which is said to now be valued at more than $40 million.
Famous for their themed parties, the couple threw a western-themed hoedown in the week before Christmas.
The celebrity multimillion-dollar house buy
In October, we revealed Kiwi superstar director Taika Waititi had splashed out on a $10.5 million waterfront pad in Point Chevalier.
Murmurings around the smart, former working-class suburb had circled for weeks that New Zealand’s most famous entertainment export had invested in an Auckland base in their backyard.
Industry sources told Spy that Waititi had been searching for a high-end property in the city, but he wasn’t interested in typical blue-chip suburbs such as Remuera or Herne Bay.
Waititi is thought to have splashed out on the luxury home in July. The director’s pad features a three-storey, 336sq m four-bedroom, four-bathroom clifftop home that sits on a 620sq m. section. It has expansive decks with views over the Waitematā to Te Atatū Peninsula and Hobsonville Point.
Waititi and wife, popstar Rita Ora, were spotted in a West Auckland supermarket a few weeks ago, and we are told Ora obliged someone from her new neighbourhood with a selfie.