Fuggedabout Gracinda. Hello, Clacinda. Labour luvvie Jacinda Ardern made a surprising presence at the Music Awards last night hand-in-hand with her new man, George FM DJ Clarke Gayford.
It was the first high-profile public outing for the pair who looked painfully aware all eyes were on them. And by all eyes, I mean nosy journos with brows arched. No one else had the foggiest. Wearing skinny vinyl pants, chunky heels and a frock in the politically observant shade of scarlet red (hello, branding) Jacinda looked quite at home in the rock star world of music. Who wouldn't? It's a long way from town hall meetings and complaining constituents.
Also on couple high-alert was TVNZ Breakfast host Ali Pugh and her dashing fiance, Joe Barus. The couple - and their relationship - have been the subject of much speculation this year with rumours flying the engagement was abruptly called off a couple of months ago, apparently due to third-party shenanigans. She turned down a sit-down interview in a women's mag, and network publicity avoided all nosy queries from this columnist.
However, if the relationship had hit a rocky a patch, it was back to plain sailing last night, with Pugh and Barus holding hands and looking happily loved-up.
Looking ravishing, too, was Lorde in a blush pink suit and red bralet. The teen queen took home a haul of gongs, cleaning up the awards, and deservedly so. Her family, who accompanied her en masse, looked just as happy to be there as she did. Pity that her boyfriend James, who's still rocking the ponytail, rarely cracked a smile. Sullen and broody is evidently his look du jour.
Other plus-ones looked much happier to be there, including One News anchor Simon Dallow, accompanied by his long-time partner Louise Collenbrander, who works in the industry.
Helena McAlpine's orange ensemble was striking for all the wrong reasons. Not helped, of course, by her hilarious attempts to keep her Spanx under control.
Netballer Maria Tutaia looked stunning in a bodycon mini, showing off legs that seemed to go on forever. She welcomed all the winks and ogling - and there were plenty.
Sol3 Mio stunned on stage, bringing down the house with a rousing performance, which was followed by a standing ovation throughout the whole auditorium. The family opera trio received huge applause, too, when they won Highest-Selling Album and thanked their families "for buying up all the albums. We sold it cheap for this reason." Self-deprecating: it wins the crowd over every time.
Sol3 Mio wins Highest-Selling Album award during the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. Photo / Dean Purcell
There was much applause too for Rob Ruha, winner of the Best Maori Album, who was also celebrating his 15-year wedding anniversary last night. He thanked the bouncer on the door at Vector for letting him in. He'd forgot his pass, apparently.
The eternally cheery Stan Walker was a crowd-pleaser, too, scooping two popularity gongs. He drew attention to his see-through white shirt on stage when accepting his awards. "I have to suck in my stomach because my gut is hanging out. I'm hanging my hat in front of my gut. For real." Keeping it fresh - Stan really won for Most Real Star. That's why we love him.
It was a great night, with some great music, and a lot of great laughs. Well done, VNZMAs.