The gunge was messy and kids' smiles were infectious when long-running kids show What Now went live with its first episode of 2020 recently.

A typical morning on location you might say, until Stella Maris was introduced as What Now's newest presenter.

Rotorua girl Stella Maris joins Chris Kirk and Erin Wells and will beam live into living rooms on Sunday mornings, entertaining and inspiring tamariki all over New Zealand.

Stella brings a distinct charm, her acoustic guitar and a voice that will be sure to power many a song parody.


Rotorua residents may recognise Stella as a performer at numerous local events over the years, such as the New Year's Eve Glo Festival, the Seafood Festival, Art in the Park and the Rotorua Night Market.

Stella says she was ecstatic when she found out she got the What Now presenter role.

"It was a very long audition process and I worked very hard on my audition pieces. I definitely earned the opportunity and it wasn't given easily."

She says she found out not long before the role started, so it was a frantic move from Auckland down to Christchurch with no time to spare.

Stella has now been in the show's first two 2020 shows, with the third this weekend.

"The lead-up to the first show was very busy. We had done a bit of location filming for segments which was a great way to ease into the live show.

"In saying that, live shows are very different to filming on a closed set."

Stella says she has found the transition from music to television a very natural one.


"I am pleased to be able to use my skills in music within the show. We write parody songs and opening numbers.

"My co-host Erin is an incredible dancer, and Chris is great with ideas so we have the performing arts side of things covered."

She says although the transition has been a fluid one for her, she is learning so much.

"There are so many different aspects to this show which make way for learning new skills like script writing, creative input, physical comedy and of course presenting."

A typical work day changes, she says.

"Our working week is busy and based around pitching ideas for the show, filming segments and then on a Sunday morning I am up at 4.30am. Then we start the show at 8am.

"We travel around to different places for shows so we fly most weeks. However, our first lot of shows are in Christchurch so it just means that we get a little bit more time off when we don't travel."

Stella's entry to the show was a grand one – arriving in a limousine and high-fiving a tunnel of cheering kids.

"We had such an exciting first show. Erin, Chris and the crew are so much fun and they put me through a variety of interesting challenges which were awesome.

"Getting to engage with the kids and hang out with them at the live broadcast was a really neat experience. I can't wait for more!"

Watch Stella and her new What Now whānau Sundays 8am on TVNZ2.