Each week, Canvas asks a public figure to confess to three of the seven deadly sins. This week, Nigel Latta enters the box.
You've said that to be famous in New Zealand is to be famous in "part of Sydney". You don't seem particularly impressed with yourself.
I think that's something you have to be on guard for. I noticed when I started doing this telly stuff that people treat you [differently] and I think if you were stupid, you might start thinking that you're more than you really are. It would be very easy to start believing other people's version of you and thinking that you're something special. My entire career, I have relied on working with a really good team of people because they are the checks and balances. I know how stupid I am, I know the dumb stuff I do all the time. I am intimately acquainted with my failings as a human being.
What are your greatest achievements?
My kids. It's the fact that I have raised two boys that I am really proud of and I think are really good kids and are compassionate and kind. Being on TV is a vacuous and empty thing really so the stuff I am proud about is - well, I was at a conference yesterday and an educator came up to me and said she was really thankful because I took a public stand and said, "Actually New Zealand is pretty racist. It's nice that we're being good now but where was everybody before?" That feels like something that's good. In my clinical career, when you're part of a team of people that gets kids out of care and back home again, that sort stuff is real to me. It's when we made The Darklands and a woman who had been sexually abused as a child and had never been believed got to go on national telly and tell her story and be believed. She sent the production company a note the next day saying that this enormous weight had been lifted off her because she had been believed. It's the real and palpable things that I am proud of.
You have multiple degrees, you've written eight books, you've fronted television programmes, you've co-founded a production company, you're working on a parenting app. In what way are you slothful?
I try and squeeze sloth into every available space, really. I'm like the sloth who still manages to do stuff. If there was a sloth in the Amazonian jungle who managed to start up a production company, I'd be that sloth. I'd be hanging under a tree for 18 hours a day and then for the hours that are left, I'd do stuff. So I am a firm believer in sloth. I'm trying to teach this to my kids now. You don't have to be 100 per cent all the time, you've just have to be 100 per cent when it really counts. When it doesn't count, you can be 51 per cent. My university career was trying to predict what was going to be in exams so I could reduce the amount I had to study. I'm always looking for shortcuts and the easiest way from one place to another place.
Do you have advice for your boys on how to do that effectively, because you could spend a lot of time trying to figure out the easy path and get it quite wrong?
You have to get strategic and tactical about how you approach life. You have to work hard when it matters, but the rest of it, just put in the bare minimum. I remember once, one of my guys got a bad result on a project and one of the teachers said they had to start being more serious now because their results would follow them. And I said, "No they won't. You could literally release a truckload of goats into your school and that wouldn't follow you around because no one cares about that stuff." So take it seriously when you have to take it seriously.
Why did you choose gluttony?
I am a binge telly watcher. This is where streaming has been fantastic because I don't want to wait, I want sit down and watch the whole thing. So I am gluttonous about good telly and I am lucky that I have been born into an era when TV drama has got amazingly good.
Are there other things you're gluttonous for? Are you a foodie?
Nah, food's a nuisance. If you could take a pill instead of eating, that would be great. I mean I cook, but I don't like cooking. The thing about food - again, this is the sloth in me - you go to all that trouble, you chop stuff up, and you cook it, and you prepare it and you do all this stuff for basically the first 3.5 to 4cm of food's journey, just as it's travelling through your mouth. I'm sure foodies would be appalled but I just think all this bloody work for a little bit of chewing and a swallow, that's it.
Nigel Latta presents What Next: Does the Economy Care About You? TVNZ1, June 1, 8.30pm.