metropol » interview

Tag: interview

Home for summer


Christchurch model Eleni Tsavousis has forged a formidable career in front of the camera. Home from New York for summer, Metropol catches up with the local beauty about a tumultuous year in the Big Apple – and what’s in store for the one to come.

 

Eleni is represented by Christchurch-based modelling agency Portfolio while she is in New Zealand.

 

Tell us a bit about your upbringing in Christchurch and how this led to your modelling career?
“I was born in Christchurch, but then spent my childhood years in Nassau in the Bahamas. At 13, we all moved back to NZ and I started to hear more about how my mum and aunt had worked in the industry, but I can’t say I ever thought about it as a career for me. When I was 15 I got approached a few times. I didn’t pursue either advance, but a year or so later a friend of my mum’s, Sharon Ng, asked me to do a shoot for her. I remember feeling super embarrassed, but also flattered to be considered for her beautiful work, so I said yes and we shared a lovely (freezing) winter’s day shooting in the Port Hills. After that I walked for her in a show and then started working more regularly. It’s been a pretty incredible ride and the industry has given me so much. I’ve been working for more than 15 years now and I am so grateful for the gift of being able to live and work around the world. It’s taken me to live in Australia, Hamburg, Berlin, London, South Africa, Los Angeles and New York. I get to meet new people in new places every day for work which I love. I’m truly so grateful for it and how it has shaped my life.”

2020, what a year. New York has been in the global spotlight for the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the city. What has it been like living amongst the chaos?
“What a year indeed. My partner and I were supposed to have our wedding in April and I had a flight booked home to Christchurch early March to finish my wedding dress with my mum. We ended up staying until July and when we got back to New York it was a ghost town. I walked around Manhattan a few times, which is usually a bustling hub of tourists and business and was shocked to find block after block of homeless encampments. It was a very sobering time.”

Not to mention the impact on the fashion industry. We’ve seen a widespread re-think of the notion of frequent seasonal fashion. What have your observations been about this, and how does it impact your work? What do you think we will see from the industry in 2021?
“In my time in the industry, I have become increasingly aware of its problems, and am very pleased to see companies trying to find solutions that are environmentally and socially conscious. But, I think we as consumers also have to take responsibility. We have power and a lot of choice about how we spend. So I really try to take the time to think twice before I buy. Buy less, buy local, up-cycle, recycle, shop at thrift stores, be the hand that forces change. Moving forward I think we are going to see a push for artisan craftsmanship, for localised production and for an understanding of who made what and where.”

But now you’re back in New Zealand (and Christchurch)! What did you get up to in your quarantine hotel – and how do you plan to spend the summer?
“Home sweet home! I am actually in quarantine as I write this! Shout out to The Sebel Hotel in Manakau! I have been so impressed by the effective and thoughtful way our government has been able to keep NZ safe and still welcome home so many returning New Zealanders. It has made me so proud and grateful to be a Kiwi.
On release, I plan to annoy my mum with as many DIY projects as I can get away with, continue my life long saga of trying to get my dad to teach me French, guilt my brother into taking annual leave to hang out with me, catch up with my wonderful whanau and friends and take my husband on his first Kiwi tramp! I smile just thinking about it.”

And what does 2021 have in store for you?
“2020 was definitely a lesson in impermanence and being flexible with what the world delivers to us. I feel so lucky we have come through unscathed relative to so many we know and many we don’t. Honestly, I don’t know what my future holds; for now I’m looking forward to having a few months at home with my family and working with amazing creative Kiwis!”

 

 


 

Dealing with stress and finding joy: Dr Libby Weaver


Dr Libby Weaver is an internationally acclaimed nutritional biochemist, author and speaker, and has just released wellness cards to educate and inspire. She chatted with Metropol about her secrets to de-stress, what brings her joy and a new way we can all make health a daily priority.

 

With the silly season fast approaching, do you get stressed?
“There are always going to be stressful situations in our lives that we can’t avoid. But a lot of the daily stress we experience comes from our perceptions and thoughts, so there is a lot of unnecessary suffering and it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve had a period in my life where I was a ‘Rushing Woman’ and that showed me that I had to make some changes – practically, but also exploring where I was creating stress for myself through perceptions of pressure and urgency. That’s where the gold really is.”


What do you do to relax?
“Having some time to myself early in the morning outside, watering trees and vegies, and watching the chickens, is a joy and brings me a sense of spaciousness, even if my day ahead is incredibly full. I also really love to watch the light changing in the sky. I made a decision a while back that I wanted to see more sunsets so even if my work day hasn’t ended by that time, I do my best to take a break to watch it.”


Why is prioritising health and wellness so important – and in particular this year?
“Collectively, I think there has been a realisation of just how important our health is, yet it’s so easy for self-care to sink to the bottom of the priority list, unless there is a health crisis. I think that for many who have slowed down this year, there’s also been a realisation that they don’t necessarily want to go back to how they were living previously.
“Ultimately, if we don’t prioritise our own health and wellbeing eventually it’s going to catch up with us and we won’t be able to contribute and care for others in the way we really want to. Taking great care of the immune system has become a focus this year, and how we eat, drink, move, think, breathe, believe and perceive really does matter—not just to immune system function but to every cell in the body.”


What can we all do to prioritise our health and wellbeing on a daily basis?
“Many people share with me that they struggle to consistently take great care of themselves so I wanted to do something different this year that would help. That’s why I created my new Wellness Cards – I wanted to offer a simple way for health to become a consistent priority in your day or week, even if you feel time-poor. The cards are divided across the three pillars that I focus on – biochemical, nutritional and emotional.”


 

The magic of Marlon


From home in the portside township of Lyttelton, music has taken alt-country troubadour Marlon Williams around the world, from The Yarra Hotel of inner-city Melbourne, to The Troubadour in Los Angeles.

It was the latter where Bradley Cooper spied his Kiwi-born and bred talents, seeking Marlon out to appear in his 2018 Academy award-winning film, A Star is Born.

There have been several film and television appearances since and more still to come out in the New Year. But it’s making music that still has his heart.

Marlon’s new album Plastic Bouquet hit the streets on December 11, his first new music since 2018’s award-winning Make Way For Love, made post breakup from Kiwi folk singer-songwriter Aldous Harding.

Collaboration – a strong theme of Marlon’s career – has once again proven a winning formula, this time with Canadian folk duo Kacy and Clayton’s musical talents providing the
cumulative glue, with the three musicians finding common ground between a lifelong shared passion for western country, folk and troubadour traditions.

It was driving through Europe with his band when he came across the duo’s ‘Springtime of the Year’. “It was an incredible vocal performance and song and it was just one of those musical moments when you get stopped in your tracks,” Marlon says.

“From there I very overzealously reached out to them and asked if we could make music together. Within a couple of days, we had decided to make an album.”

He hopped on a flight to Saskatoon for Christmas 2018 and together they wrote and recorded the bulk of what would become Plastic Bouquet over the course of just three weeks.

“This year being what it is, even February feels like a lifetime ago. So it’s been almost two years to the day. It doesn’t normally take that long, but in this case it has, so we’re super excited to get it out.”

Every December, Christchurch enjoys the start of summer as Saskatoon begins to freeze over. But despite hailing from opposite sides of the world, there was an immediate connection between the trio. “We found a dynamic that worked well, because we all love old Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard and have the same sense of humour,” Marlon says. “We’re kindred spirits.”
If there was a theme to the 11-track project, it was the dichotomy of familiarity and strangeness, he says.

“It’s the idea that we both come from the same place musically, but obviously culturally and geographically from somewhere very different, having faith that everything would blend together in a way that makes sense.”

Music has been something that has always made sense for Marlon, whose career has been a natural evolution. “I’m not a well organised person,” he laughs.

“I don’t plan a lot and I don’t think about the future that often, life just keeps rolling on and now this is what I do; I don’t do anything else.”

But he admits there came a time in his third year at university when, with a tour on the cards, he had to make a call between committing completely to music and finishing his degree – the only caveat from mum, visual artist Jenny Rendall, that he take it seriously and commit as much time to his musical pursuits as he had been committing to university.

This lack of planning ahead mirrors his approach to making music as well. “I don’t go into it consciously with intention, unless I’m collaborating, then it might be more systematic.”

Right now, he’s driven by the freedom to explore. “I’m most thankful for this time in my life, being where I’m at right now I’ve got time to figure things out, make mistakes, try and give things enough space to go somewhere new.

“Simply put, freedom of creativity.”

Marlon has been hunkered down in his homeland during the global pandemic, which thankfully fell outside a big tour cycle for the singer, who spends eight to nine months a year on the road. He’s spent the time writing, reading, working on a film soundtrack and learning te reo Māori, the latter for an album he’s working on that will be exclusively in the language.

But for now, he’s enjoying some down time in Diamond Harbour before his New Zealand tour kicks off in February, that will take him from Invercargill to Auckland. He’ll be performing locally at the James Hay Theatre from February 25 to 27.


 

Making moves


Brodie Kane has been a fixture on New Zealand television screens and radio waves for the past 13 years, earning her success and respect for being relatable, unfiltered and unashamedly herself. Metropol catches up with the much-loved local about losing her radio job just before a global pandemic, starting her own media business in the middle of one – and everything in between.

 

 

Losing a job can be one of life’s toughest challenges – let alone doing so in the public eye. But that’s exactly the position much-loved broadcaster Brodie Kane found herself in when The Hits’ Brodie and Fitzy was cancelled in February.

“I wasn’t expecting it, but it is the nature of the beast. I made the decision to work in the public eye and this comes with the territory.”

Brodie has taken her shock redundancy, like most things, in her stride.

“There’s no shame in being made redundant, I think a lot of people think you should be embarrassed or feel like you failed, but sometimes you’re just a cog in a wheel.”

Instead of ruminating, she took the opportunity to fast track a long-held career goal.

So, using her 13 years of experience at the country’s largest media outlets including TVNZ, NZME and Mediaworks, she launched Brodie Kane Media.

“I always wanted to try and create a business which is just me and focuses my skillset in other professions, not just traditional media.”

So far, she has worked with the likes of My Food Bag, Interislander, Heritage Hotels, and Duco Events.

“I still want to broadcast, it just looks a little different now.”

As well as her Kiwi Yarns podcast, Brodie also co-hosts The Girls Uninterrupted, with Gracie Taylor and Caitlin Marett.

The show has gained a strong following for its discussions on everything from pop culture and politics, to sex, relationships, navigating single life in your 30s, and mental health.

“Women have, for a long time, felt uncomfortable or uneasy to talk about certain things,” she says. “What we have found is, the more we have talked and jumped into difficult subjects, the more support and positive feedback we have received.”

A recent sold out tour in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch highlighted the importance of creating space for such conversations.

“We had women coming up to us saying we had changed their lives, that they finally left an abusive boyfriend or quit their job and gone back to uni.”

One area Brodie – a keen runner and endurance athlete – has been particularly outspoken on is body image and self-acceptance.

“Health, fitness, and body image – it is such a tricky one, and at the moment the term is ‘self-love’.

“I find self-love interesting; I think that every one should absolutely embrace and love and celebrate themselves and all that, but it is almost just repackaging the fact that women still have to always think about their bodies.”

She says the conversation is still dictating to women how they should operate their bodies, with the potential to introduce even more pressure or feelings of failure should they not love every part of themselves.

Instead, she wants women to focus on their bodies “for themselves, not for anyone else.”

Brodie has been candid about her own use of cosmetic injectables and is one of a growing number of public figures dismantling the stigma around such procedures.

“You can want to be better, you don’t have to beat yourself up. If it’s for you – fill your boots!”


 

Food for all


In a time when disciplined and restrictive food trends seem to be taking over the world, Christchurch sisters Margo and Rosa Flanagan are serving up something different. Metropol catches up with the Two Raw Sisters about their refreshing, inclusive approach to eating.

 

Credit Malia Rose Photograhy.

 

Rosa, 24, and Margo, 22, have eaten themselves back to health.

Chronic fatigue left Margo bed bound for most of her final two years of high school, and injury-inducing disordered eating and over training saw Rosa break from her promising career as an elite runner.

So, with their life plans derailed at just 18 and 20, respectively, the sisters flew to Plant Lab culinary school in Los Angeles. Here, Rosa says they learnt about the transformational power of eating wholefoods.

“We were at our worst when we went over there,” she says. “We got so much more aware of food and what it could do for our health.”

Margo says: “I had health professionals telling me there was nothing I could do about my chronic fatigue. When we went to America, I learned about gut health and got rid of my chronic fatigue in 12-months.

“That’s when I learnt about the power of food and what effect it can have on your health and wellbeing.”

For Rosa, she says her philosophy around food was tipped on its head, and she went on to study a Bachelor of Applied Science specialising in Human Nutrition.

“When I look back now I did have a really bad relationship with food,” she says. “I thought anything I put in my body had to be super clean in order to be a successful athlete.

She says the physical and mental stress she was putting on her body, “got to the point where I was told at 20 if I don’t make changes I physically won’t be able to do anything, especially not running.”

Now, that has changed.

“When you take the time to look into eating in a healthy way, not dieting all the time, you realise how good you can feel – people are just so used to feeling average they think it’s normal that they are always bloated or that they have no energy when it hits 3pm every day – we want to make it easy and affordable for people.”

Which is the ethos behind their culinary brand, Two Raw Sisters.

Based at The Welder development on Welles Street in the central city, the sisters run cooking workshops which centre around using pantry staples and fresh ingredients. They have just published their second book, All Eaters Welcome.

They also dismantle others’ misconceptions around food.

For example, many assume they are vegan.

“People assume we’re vegan and all we eat is raw food whereas we don’t follow a diet of any sort,” says Rosa.

Instead, the pair’s definition of “plant based” means starting a meal with plants, and then adding the meat, dairy, fish, poultry, tofu or tempeh on the side, if you choose.

Margo adds: “Restriction is not sustainable. It’s about creating a happy, healthy lifestyle and having fun in the kitchen – otherwise it’s just so stressful.”

And Rosa says the concept appears to have wide appeal.

“We cater to all age groups, we have 18-year-olds right through to 80-year-olds, males and females – we’ve made something people are interested in, and which we actually do in our everyday lives.

“Our book is called All Eaters Welcome because we want to welcome all eaters into the kitchen.”

All Eaters Welcome is out now.

Credit Malia Rose Photography

 


 

Sophisticated style afoot: Mikko Shoes


Mikko Shoes’ new season collection is an enchanting offering of energising colourways and sophisticated shapes providing ample inspiration for the warmer months ahead. Metropol spoke with founder and buyer, Michaela, about this season’s trends and the Mikko difference.

 

 

BEFORE WE DIVE INTO THE SS20 TRENDS, TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT MIKKO AND HOW IT ALL BEGAN.
I launched Mikko in 2013 to offer an extensive range of European hand selected and handcrafted quality shoes for women who wanted stylish footwear, without having to compromise on comfort. I felt there was an opportunity to provide a truly personalised instore experience – our team are professionally trained in fitting and styling.

WHY DO YOU FOCUS ON EUROPEAN BRANDS SPECIFICALLY?
Europe is the origin of shoemaking with a rich history of quality and excellent craftsmanship. The brands we choose are family-owned businesses, just like us. Each brand has its own story and every shoe has four things in common: comfort, quality, style and value. Since day one, we have prioritised artisanal quality, unparalleled comfort and timeless design that will last.

AND ONTO THE NEW SEASON, WHAT ARE THE MUST-HAVE COLOURS IN FOOTWEAR THIS SEASON?
There are two ends of the colour spectrum to enjoy. Poolside Daydream – punchy, playful, ‘60s inspired tones of fuchsia, coral and teal – and Design Emotion – a Nordic-inspired, earthy palette, think jute, woodgrain and cork; a textural blend of sophistication and warmth.

WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
We see an evolution of the interesting silhouettes, finishes and features introduced in winter – large scale exotic prints, the ‘90s square toe, brushed metallics and the architectural heel. Also new are corsage trims with glamorous oversized adornments.

HOW ABOUT CASUAL FOOTWEAR OPTIONS – ARE SNEAKERS STILL A MUST-HAVE?
Sneakers are seasonless! We love fresh interpretations like platform soles, metallic touches, animal prints and retro influences. We’ve also launched DL Sport – an Italian luxury casual sneaker range.

AND FINALLY, IF YOU HAD TO SUM UP THIS SEASON’S TRENDS, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
The vibe is joyful, inspiring and optimistic – and who isn’t feeling in the mood for that?

Visit Mikko Shoes at 143 Victoria Street or online
www.mikkoshoes.nz.

 

 


 

The vital truth about vitamins and minerals: Unichem Cashel


With common symptoms like fatigue, headaches and muscle pain – it can be easy to live unaware of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Unichem Cashel Head Pharmacist Annabel Turley tells Metropol how treating these issues can be simple – but greatly improve quality of life.

 

 

What is a vitamin and mineral deficiency, and how do they happen?
“It is when you’re not getting enough nutrients like vitamins and minerals from your diet, or you’re taking medications that deplete the vitamins and minerals in your body. There’s a number of common medications which many people in New Zealand take which can prevent vitamins and minerals being absorbed into the body. Our soil also doesn’t have a lot of minerals in it, so we don’t always get enough from our food. A lot of people don’t understand a vitamin and mineral deficiency can affect your overall health – and it can be so simple to fix.”


Can you tell if you are deficient?
“The symptoms are similar to a number of common complaints, like migraines, headaches, muscle pain and cramps, and low energy levels – so it can be hard for the untrained eye to determine what may be behind these common issues. You can get a blood test to see your iron levels or B12, but a lot of vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be treated via the symptoms. Our staff are all trained specifically to spot these symptoms, and to provide appropriate and informed advice.”


How can these issues be treated?
“It can be as simple as taking a multi-vitamin for some people who may be having general signs of vitamin or mineral deficiency – but not all vitamin supplements are created equally. It is best to seek advice from someone who has been trained and upskilled to not only spot symptoms, but to advise on the specific type of supplement.
“For example, not all supplements can easily be absorbed by the body so there are different forms which are better for different conditions and to be used with different medications.”

Find Unichem Pharmacy at 111 Cashel Street from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, and Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm.

 


 

Powered by plants


Chelsea Winter is unleashing her culinary creativity on the world yet again, but not like you’ve ever seen before. Because Chelsea, who has long been famed for her down to earth approach to butter, cream and meat, has ditched them all for a plant-based model. But if you think plant-based is parlance for deprivation, then you’ve got another thing coming.

 

Photography Tam West

 

After all, there’s nothing lacking when it comes to Winter’s Banoffee Pie, Chicken-out Mayo Sammies, Oozy Quesadillas, Chocolate Mousse, Elvish Toast Bread, Jellytip Cheesecake, Snausage Rolls (which we have the recipe for on page 66), Macho Nachos, Creamy Alfredo and Gooey Caramel Slice – dairy or no dairy. And there definitely is no dairy here folks!

Despite the surname, Winter is a ray of sunshine; bubbly, passionate and so beautifully down to earth. It’s what has endeared the country to her since she took out the third series of television mainstay, Masterchef in 2012.

She went on to put out an incredible five cookbooks in five years – beautiful, but accessible recipes for everyday Kiwis, culminating in the best-selling New Zealand cookbook and the best-selling book overall of 2017, Eat.

But it seems in 2020 Kiwis have had their fill of the classics and were craving something different – Supergood served up just that and was on its third reprint less than a week after hitting the streets!

“I think this was the most exciting one yet,” she says of the latest cookbook, which came after a three-year hiatus.

“This book being particularly close to my heart, it was like Christmas Eve for a little kid the night before launch! It’s an incredible feeling seeing all the energy, hard work and love you’ve put into something there as a real, finished thing. Then seeing the book in people’s kitchens and the food being made is a real thrill.”

Supergood is a strong reflection of the changes in Winter’s own eating, a natural evolution she has made with partner Douglas and their 15-month-old Sky, who you’ll find, more often than not, attached to Winter’s hip in the kitchen – “I can still manage to do everything except chop,” she laughs.

Photography Tam West

“I’ve been on a bit of a journey of knowledge and awareness over the past few years, intuitively eating more plant-based food, until I got to a point where it’s pretty much all I eat now,” she explains.

“And I’ve fallen in love with this lifestyle; this beautiful, sustainable, utterly delicious way of living. Now I’m just beyond excited to share it with people and let them see that plant-based food does not have to be scary, bland, boring or skimpy! No disappointing salads in this book. I think it’s the future.”

So how can the recipes be any good without all the cheese and butter and cream and chicken?

“Trust me, they are. I’ve worked a bit of wizardry to create an entire book of plant-based comfort food – you wouldn’t even know there was no meat or cheese or eggs if you were just flicking through the book. And based on the overwhelming feedback I’ve had from hundreds of home cooks, the recipes are going down a treat with even the hardiest of carnivores!

“This is exactly what I had in mind and I’m tickled pink.”

When quizzed on its popularity, Winter suspects that it’s all simply down to making a new way of eating accessible. “I honestly think it’s because the book is plant-based, with a gluten-free option for most things – and because people trust my recipes,” she says.

“It seems to me that people are more than ready to be inspired for a new way of cooking and eating. They just need the right recipes to do it; recipes that are easy, use mostly normal ingredients and recipes that the whole family will eat, and that’s what I’ve tried to do with Supergood.”

So does this self-confessed purveyor of deliciousness and everyday gangly blonde Kiwi have a favourite Supergood recipe or are they all her babies? “It’s way too hard to choose,” she laughs.

“The Macho Nachoes and Creamy Dahl with Crispy Potatoes have been hugely popular. The Jellytip Cheesecake on the cover and the Snickalicious (choc peanut) cheesecake are pretty incredible too. And you can’t go past that amazing 10-second aioli!”

So, what is next on the culinary cards for Chelsea Winter? “Considering I spent all last summer in the kitchen working on Supergood, this summer I am having a rest! I plan to chill on the beach with the family, eat good plant-based food and enjoy this beautiful life I’ve been given.”

Photography Tam West

 


 

An acoustic ambition


At just 19, local singer-songwriter Amber Carly Williams is set to perform at the Bay Dreams music festival in Nelson this summer. Metropol catches up with the first-year Ara Music Arts contemporary vocals student about her musical journey.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR GENRE AND MUSICAL BACKGROUND?
I enjoy writing and recording my own music – it can often start off a certain feel and end up something completely different, but I tend to go for pop /indie. I like playing solo and using my loop pedal…but I’m also in the midst of forming a band for certain performances coming up.

WHAT DRIVES YOUR MUSICAL PASSION AND HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE CRAFT?
I first started playing guitar when I was 8-years-old, as I was always surrounded with music in the family. My mum passed away when I was young so seeing her do music was quite inspiring for me and I wanted to relate to that part of her. A few years down the track I started singing, just along with the guitar, but then my voice kind of took over and I realised I really had a passion for singing and that’s when song writing came in too. Being able to write my own music and express my thoughts and opinions has become something that has helped me through some challenging times.

WHAT PROJECTS HAVE YOU WORKED ON SO FAR, AND WHAT DO YOU HAVE COMING UP?
I’m in the process of writing new music at the moment and recording it myself in my wee bedroom studio setup which is looking to result in an EP or maybe even a potential album. Over summer I’m looking into gigging more around the South Island in conjunction with my set at Bay Dreams Nelson in January. This will be the biggest performance I’ve ever done by a long shot so this is very exciting!

WHO / WHAT INSPIRES YOU IN YOUR WORK?
My dad [Peter Williams of Acoustic Architecture] is my biggest supporter and without him I would’ve had no one to take me to my music lessons and take me to all my gigs when I didn’t have a car and accompany me when I was underage. I take influence from solo performing musicians like Tash Sultana, and some of my favourite artists include Phoebe Bridgers, Jeremy Zucker and Lennon Stella.

WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE TAKE AWAY FROM LISTENING TO YOUR MUSIC?
Something I really try to aim for is making sure that my music isn’t just a catchy hook. I love being able to put my experiences and thoughts into my music, and it’s important to me that when people listen to it, they can relate to the lyrics in some sort of way or something stands out and makes them think of a time something like that happened to them.


 

Tame-ing the Politicians


Jack Tame has spent 15 years keeping New Zealanders up to date on the biggest stories from around the world. Metropol catches up with the Christchurch-raised broadcaster about what it takes to take on the politicians ahead of an exceptional election.

 

 

One of New Zealand’s most recognisable television journalists, Jack Tame has been on our screens since he was hired by TVNZ at 19 years old. In that time, he’s chased news stories across all seven continents – narrating the most defining events of the last two decades.

The 33-year-old spent five years as the state-owned broadcaster’s foreign correspondent in New York, where his final assignment was the infamous 2016 US election.

Now, as the host of the hard news and current affairs show Q+A he’s holding New Zealand’s politicians to account amidst an unprecedented pandemic election.

“There are a few interesting dynamics at play,” he says about the current campaign. “First of all, it’s amazing to compare this election with the last election, I think of all the things this election isn’t about.

“Over the last three years the government has had to deal with a series of massive crises. Most people would probably say they’ve been fairly successful in dealing with those crises and have done on the whole a pretty good job.”

However, he says progress made on the domestic agenda – around mental health, child poverty and housing affordability – don’t stack up with promises made ahead of the last time Kiwis voted.

“In a normal election campaign, the government might feel a lot of pressure from the opposition to deliver on their promises – but this isn’t a normal election. Covid-19 has changed everything about how we live.”

A fact which, Jack says, sees Labour and National offering similar solutions.

“I don’t think there’s a great deal of difference between our major parties when it comes to policies. It’s almost like Covid-19 has brought them closer together than they might have otherwise been.”

The build up to a general election can be a hectic time for journalists. Long hours, a lot of travel, and considerable pressure to be all over the ever-breaking latest news.

So what happens when that all-consuming period is extended another month?

“The only certain thing in the world at the moment is uncertainty, and journalists and newsrooms thrive in trying circumstances,” he says.

“As difficult as this year has been for all of us, it has also been a rewarding year and a thrilling thing to be part of. It’s not good Covid-19 is here or anything, but it’s in these moments of crises that you feel like you’re contributing to the greater good.”

And it has been a year where audiences are more tuned into the news than perhaps ever before.

“The decision to move alert levels really impacts our lives in a significant way – so it’s no wonder people have been interested,” he says.

With that attention, though, comes extra scrutiny and criticism.

“I get a lot of hate mail. I just accept that that is part of the job. What I strive for is to be hated evenly. I want both sides to be calling me biased.”

This criticism, however, is not always from the audience. A recent Q+A interview with Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters made its own headlines when the political stalwart took offence to a line of questioning about NZ First allegedly leaking information about Green Party funding. During which, he called TVNZ a “disgrace” and called Jack “James” repeatedly.

“It was very funny,” says Jack nonchalantly.

“He and I have had many interviews, many times and it was hardly the first time we’ve seen Winston Peters rallying against the media.”

While such confrontations would make many people sweat, Jack says he backs his well-researched questions and believes Kiwis are owed the answers.

An approach which will only intensify as we get closer to polling day.

• The 1 NEWS Your Vote 2020 Election Night Special airs 7pm Saturday 17 Oct, and the Q+A Election Special airs Sunday 18 Oct, 8am, TVNZ 1.