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Life’s a breeze


Hilary Muir breezes into our interview. Bright, bubbly and full of life; just as she sounds on her morning radio shows. By the time we meet, she’s already done her early morning start at The Breeze, and most of a full day, yet the enthusiasm hasn’t dimmed.

 

 

Enthusiasm for people, for life and for causes are what keep Hilary on the go. She’s always been a people person and her various roles reflect that.

Breakfast show presenter, popular MC, marriage celebrant, funeral celebrant, mother, friend and confidante. And she loves a good anecdotal story.

Those who tune into her show regularly know all this, enjoying the banter between Hilary and co-host Fitzy (Dave Fitzgerald) and their choice of topics. She adores radio and its people dynamic.

“I wake up in the morning, bounce out of bed and make the most of the day. I love people, company and radio.”

Thirty-seven years’ radio experience hasn’t dimmed her joie de vie; she’s still eager to hit the airwaves each morning, seeing every day as an opportunity to bring to life on radio the lives of Cantabrians.

“There’s so much choice whether it is people or topics. Whatever we talk about is relatable to our listeners.”

Originally from the deep south – Invercargill and then Dunedin – Hilary has been with The Breeze since its inception two decades ago this year. She has always worked in radio – 15 years in Dunedin, including seven years also reading news on Regional television, two of which were with Jim Mora, and a parenting programme on TV called Parent Time.

“I’ve always worked with male DJs; it’s an awesome contrast,” she explains, naming James Daniels and latterly Fitzy as her most recent co-hosts.

Christchurch stole her heart several years ago and for Hilary it is home. “It’s such an evolving place; I really love the people. They have so many stories to tell and some have been through so much, yet they still stand strong and proud of their city. There’s a real courage amongst the people here.”

Work hard but take time out to relax is part of her personal ethos.

Time out is spent relaxing with family and friends, and holidaying in her regular go-to destination of Kaiteriteri in Nelson Tasman.

For the last 20 years she has spent summer holidays staying at the same bach and loving its simplicity.

“No dishwasher, no wifi, everyone takes their own linen and it’s so close to Breakers Beach. A perfect holiday bach.”

Then it’s back to Christchurch, swapping ocean waves for radio waves, and the beach for The Breeze.


 

The art of organising


Beck Wadworth knows about organising. The businesswoman, who went to school in Christchurch, has built a successful brand from helping people make their lives easier. Metropol catches up with Beck about her stylish stationery, and the art of organising in a chaotic world.

 

 

Tell us about your love of organising – did this spawn from necessity or want; and how did it evolve into your business, An Organised Life?
“From a young age, I was always extremely organised and loved putting pen to paper, relying daily on to-do lists and my diary. For me, prep and planning has always reduced my stress levels, allowed me to have control over the controllables and in general just made life easier.
“When I moved to Sydney in my early 20s I was working at a very fast-paced company in the fashion industry and couldn’t find a diary that housed all my to-do lists, schedule, notes and more but also looked beautiful and premium. This was when An Organised Life was born. With a background in graphic design, I created my first dream diary and the rest is history.”


Why is it important for you to be organised, and how have you seen the benefits of this play out in your daily life?
“Where do I start? I personally believe there are so many incredible benefits that come from being organised. One of the obvious ones is how much prep, planning and organising can reduce stress levels and allows you to stay in control. Being organised also can save you time and money as well.
“For example, every day I love utilising a to-do list to manage my workload and schedule – personally and professionally. To always look ahead and be proactive rather than reactive. I always write my to-do list the night before and prioritise it which mentally allows me to prep for what is to come. In the morning, I’m ready to go and power through with a clear direction.”


Your stationery goes beyond just days and months – your diaries and notebooks also help with goal setting, budgeting and more. And as we head into a new financial year, people rethink their goals and try to organise the months ahead – what are your top tips for organising your life?
“Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise. Use to-do lists and a 2021 diary to your advantage to manage your workload and schedule daily. Always look ahead; being proactive rather than reactive. Set goals – personal, professional and financial. Pick one day each week that you set aside 30-minutes or so to organise the small things like meal planning, outfits for the week, fitness schedule etc.
“Learn to say no, your time is precious – don’t over commit. And, finally, overestimate rather than underestimate: allow more time to complete projects or tasks rather than too little time. Having a buffer is key. Life can be unpredictable!”


If 2020 taught us anything, it was that you can’t plan for everything! How do you deal with the unexpected, and allow for course-corrections when life veers off course?
“Life is unexpected and there is nothing we can do about that. I’m a big believer in identifying the best- and worst-case scenario in any situation and planning for all of them where possible. Strive for the best case but be aware of the worst case. Adapting and being open minded is always important and knowing your priorities too. In our diaries we have a thorough goal planning section that covers this type of strategy. You set your dream goal but then you create an action plan of how you can actually achieve this.”


Tell us about your new mid-year diaries, and AOL’s other new moves for 2021!
“Designed with function and style in mind, the financial year diaries include a week per double page spread layout, customisable cover, thorough goal planning and budgeting sections, monthly and yearly calendars, organisational tips, monthly motivational quotes, a section for your weekly goal and favourite moment from the week and more.”

 


 

Strait for Christchurch


Her eponymous brand is one of New Zealand’s most recognisable fashion labels, and has long been inspired by the landscapes of the south. Now Juliette Hogan has put down roots here with a new store The Crossing. Metropol catches up with the designer about bridging the Cook Strait, where her love story with our city started, and navigating an industry in flux.

 

 

What made you choose Christchurch to open up your first store in the South Island?
“The Juliette Hogan brand has always had a strong affinity to the textures and palette of the South Island landscape, and it has been a longstanding dream location for a store. The more we travelled looking for the right location, the more perfect Christchurch felt. I have to admit, it’s my favourite store so far. I absolutely love the curved oak wall, to me it feels so welcoming and protective, and hope this is how our customers respond to it as well.”

 

J.H store at The Crossing, CHCH

 


You’re a business owner and a mum – which must be busy enough without lockdowns thrown in the mix! What’s your philosophy or approach to making sure you have the time, space and energy you need and want to balance your business and family lives?
“My life is what I have made it and I feel so fortunate that I get to do what I love. For me that means being challenged and busy as a mother, partner, and business owner. I do work hard to keep a balance making time for family, work, and myself. I walk every morning; podcasts keep me learning and motivated and good books and travel give me both escape and creative inspiration.”


The pandemic has fuelled the movement to support local. You manufacture almost all your garments locally, why is it important for you to be New Zealand made, and why should Kiwis get behind this?
“At Juliette Hogan, our clothes are predominantly NZ made (97 percent). I’m proud to be part of Mindful Fashion NZ. Co-founded by Emily Miller-Sharma of Ruby and Kate Sylvester in 2018. We are working together on a number of initiatives to help create a thriving and sustainable future for Made in NZ clothing including developing a meaningful garment manufacturing apprenticeship programme to fulfil skill shortages and create more jobs within our clothing industry.”

 

2021 collection

 


Can you please tell us how the last 12 months has impacted the Juliette Hogan brand, and how this is reflected in your latest designs?
“2020 certainly presented us with some extraordinary challenges, but the surprising outcome for me has been the genuinely rewarding learning and growth opportunities that the year has provided. In the 17 years since I launched Juliette Hogan, I have never had such a strong impetus or the opportunity to really step back and make big decisions on where we wanted this business and brand to be, and how we were going to evolve to get there. Reflecting the timeless and enduring design aesthetic of Juliette Hogan, 2021 sees a new approach forgoing the constraints of traditional seasons and what is yet to come. In addition to reworking our seasonal calendar, we also launched our JH Lounge collection in June 2020. This collection had been in development for some time; however, the timing was really perfect to launch to market.”

 

 


So, looking forward now. What does 2021 have in store for you, and the Juliette Hogan brand?
“We have lots of exciting projects in the pipeline including new product lines and working closely with our wonderful brand partners Amisfield, Audi & Bobbi Brown on exciting events and experiences. We are looking forward to being more connected to the South Island with the new store to have a deeper understanding of what our South Island customers need. Personally, I’m looking forward to spending time with my family exploring our beautiful country.”


 

Tricks of the tradies


The remote and rugged West Coast couldn’t be further from Hollywood. But it was Phil Keoghan’s hard-working grandparents from Westport who inspired his latest Tinseltown reality competition, Tough as Nails. Metropol catches up with the Cantabrian about his recent trip home, making TV in a pandemic – and how we could be in for a Kiwi version.

“Railroad Challenge” — Coverage of the CBS series Tough As Nails, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Michael Yarish/CBS ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

Television audiences – and reality competition contestants – the world over owe a lot to Phil Keoghan’s upbringing.

His father’s work as a plant scientist and mother’s teaching skills saw the family live around the world, contributing to the adventurous spirit Keoghan has harnessed as host for all 32 seasons of The Amazing Race.

Now, it is the practical skills of his West Coast grandparents which inspired Tough as Nails, a celebration of the physical and mental strength of tradespeople.

Born in Lincoln, Keoghan moved around a lot as a child – spending time in Canada, Australia and the Caribbean before returning to Christchurch as a teen to board at St Andrew’s College.

He spent his school holidays on the coast with his grandparents and extended family – mechanics, carpenters and farmers – where he learnt how to use tools and tackle practical tasks.

“I got an appreciation for people who work in the trades, and the idea that people had these skills they could use to fix things and make the world work,” says Keoghan, who not only hosts the show, but co-created and produced it with his wife and producing partner, Louise.

The second season – in which tradies compete in a series of challenges to win $276,000NZD and a Ford F-150 Truck – was filmed in Los Angeles during the Covid-19 pandemic and edited, in part, from the Keoghan’s MIQ hotel room in Christchurch.

His paternal grandfather, Jack Keoghan, was a particularly strong influence. He passed on an education scholarship to start working as a mechanic at just 13, and went on to become an aero mechanic in World War II, as well as representing New Zealand in target shooting.

“It always irked me hearing people talk down about people like my grandfather,” says Keoghan.

“That somehow intelligence is measured by where you went to school, or in order to be well read or to be smart you have to have a tertiary education.

“My grandfather was very well read, he was very smart, top of his class, and one of the brightest people I have ever met.

“Sometimes circumstances restrict a person’s ability to follow a certain path but that is not a reflection of their intelligence or contribution to society.

“I see so many people who are being honoured for being able to sing or dance well…but this show is really about acknowledging the people who make sure we can turn our lights on, that the toilets flush, that the roads are smooth, that we have food on our table and the world keeps working!”

The show’s first episode aired earlier this month, making it one of the only pieces of fresh television created during the pandemic – a tough challenge in itself.

Beyond the physical challenges of filming while observing social distancing and increased hygiene practices, the Keoghans were also responsible for the health and safety of hundreds of people working on the show.

The reality of which didn’t sink in until they landed in New Zealand in early December.

“Once we got into a quiet spot the weight of responsibility hit me. I was hugely relieved we were able to get through Covid-19-free, but I couldn’t shut my brain down from thinking what could have gone wrong.

“It was this horrible feeling of relief and also anxiety – it’s very hard to explain.”

Keoghan acknowledges such challenges are “first world problems” compared to those endured by healthcare workers and millions of people around the world who have faced health issues, or lost family members of livelihoods during the pandemic.

He says the idea of filming a future season of the US series in New Zealand away from the stress of shooting in Los Angeles while there is a pandemic, would be incredible.

“If I had my way I would love to make a Kiwi version of Tough as Nails as well, after all, it’s where the idea came from.”

 

Phil Keoghan from the CBS series Tough As Nails. The second season premieres Wednesday, Feb. 10 (8:00 Ð 9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

New undertakings


Making a comedy series about death is a bold move, but if anyone could pull it off it is Canterbury sisters Eve and Grace Palmer. The talented sisters talk to Metropol about having fun – and making television – at a funeral home.

 

 

Inheriting a funeral home may not sound like a conventional comedy plot. But that is the premise of Good Grief, the hilarious TVNZ series co-written, produced by and starring the sisters.

Daughters of TV producers Janine Morrell-Gunn and Tony Palmer, Eve, 31 and Grace, 25, are Kiwi entertainment royalty. Grace is known for her roles on Shortland Street and The Dead Lands while Eve has made a name for herself as a presenter and reporter on TV and radio, most recently on The Adam and Eve Show.

Good Grief follows Ellie (Eve) and Gwen (Grace) Goode, who have just inherited their koro’s funeral home. Where sensible Ellie is determined to uphold his legacy, pink-haired Gwen is set on moving to Bali to pursue a DJing career.

“I know it might seem like we have a morbid fascination with death and dead people,” says Grace. “But it’s more about talking about something that’s taboo. Despite [death] being inevitable for everyone, it’s a discussion nobody wants to have.

“I find it interesting more people don’t want to discuss death even though it’s coming for all of us.”

Eve says the “awkward and cringe” humour of Good Grief is not in death or grieving, but the perspective those events bring.

“The comedy comes from how we as humans get caught up in the silly little things,” she says. “The things we become upset about or create drama over, in the context of life and death, seem trivial, but we all do it.

“We all go to a funeral and think, ‘I need to change the way I live my life,’ then go back to worrying about who needs to empty the dishwasher.”

She says the sisters came up with the idea a long time ago, after a death in the family brought its own share of laughable moments amid grief. But work started seriously on the project in 2018 when they joined forces with fellow Cantabrian and screenwriter Nick Schaedel, and the formidable Kerry Warkia and Kiel McNaughton from production company, Brown Sugar Apple Grunt. The series received NZ on Air funding in 2019.

“We were really lucky to have it picked up on the first go,” says Grace. “We worked on it for a long time before it was ready to be considered. There was a lot of mahi.”

And once it was greenlit, there was strong interest from the industry.

“I couldn’t believe the people who were auditioning for the show and who we got on board,” says Eve.

“I was really blown away by the team we managed to get – which is all thanks to Kerry and Kiel.”

The cast includes funnyman Josh Thompson (The New Legends Of Monkey), Sophie Hambleton (Westside), and Vinnie Bennett (The Bad Seed).

Eve says the sisters also worked with a lovely long-time funeral director, Gary, to ensure they were hitting the mark.

“We thought, ‘Are we pushing the boat out too far, is it too unrealistic?’, and then Gary shared some stories which made us think, ‘We haven’t gone far enough!’ Truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.”

Despite their vast experience on set, taking a step behind the camera was a learning curve.

“One thing I learnt very quickly was how being an actor, you’re just the cherry on top,” says Grace. “You’re a very small cog in a very big machine and I think we have a newfound appreciation for all the work that goes on behind the scenes.”

Filming can be the quickest part, she says. There was the writing and pre-production and then months of post-production.

However, it was early exposure – growing up at television studios – that set both sisters on their career paths.

“It was sort of inevitable,” says Grace. “I can’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. We grew up watching What Now in the studio and just loved it. I loved the energy and the people and everyone coming together to make two hours of TV.”

Off screen, the sisters have had big years in their personal lives, too.

Auckland-based Grace, married fellow actor, Rawiri Jobe (Step Dave, Shortland Street), and Christchurch-based Eve is expecting her first child with beau (and former co-star), Adam Percival. Eve is chronicling her pregnancy journey on her podcast, The Hapu Club.


 

Wiggling their way to NZ


They perform for littlies, but the star power of the Wiggles is anything but. And the South Island is set to be the first place in the world to hear them perform mid-pandemic. Metropol catches up with Red Wiggle (and new father) Simon Pryce, ahead of the We’re All Fruit Salad! tour.

 

 

 

The beloved children’s band – made up of Emma Watkins, Lachlan Gillespie, Simon Pryce and Anthony Field – will be joined onstage by Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and their newest Wiggly Friend; Shirley Shawn the Unicorn for one of 2021’s most highly anticipated tours (in certain circles) in March.

“We have been to New Zealand a bit over the years,” says Red Wiggle Simon Pryce, who has just welcomed another Wiggles fan, his newborn son, Asher, earlier this month.

“We can’t wait [to come to New Zealand]! Normally we would be touring up to eight months in a year. The New Zealand shows will be the first we’re doing after 12 months! And New Zealand is a beautiful, beautiful place to come to.”

A multiple-choice quiz through the school careers advisor suggested Simon was best suited to being a gift card shop owner, but he ended up studying sports science at university before the grandson of two opera singers found his way to drama school and, later, to The Wiggles.

He had known the original band and done a lot of studio work for them over the years.

In 2012 it was announced that Simon would replace Murray Cook, who retired, along with lead singer Greg Page and Purple Wiggle, Jeff Fatt.

“Murray and I were the same size, so maybe I just fit his skivvy and pants,” laughs Simon. But he was a natural fit – and not just for the stage costume!

“It’s been eight years now, an incredible eight years. For some reason these things happen and you’re in the right place, right time.”

The tour, which coincides with the band’s 30-year anniversary, promises all the classics, with some new songs, dances, drums, bagpipes and banjos.

“It’s such an incredible job, particularly as an Australian performer being able to travel the world. Meeting children and families around the world has been the standout about what we do,” explains Simon, who describes the fortunate position of being able to bring light into the lives of children and families who have been doing it tough, whether financially or medically.

He recalls singing ‘Big Red Car’ to a young boy in hospital who started singing along, when the boy’s shocked father started crying. Turns out, those words had been the most his son had said all year. “That’s really been the foundation of 30 years of The Wiggles and that’s what keeps us going.”

Often touring up to 300 days a year, it’s an intense workload. Band members need to look after themselves, get enough sleep and, a prerequisite, they must love the work! “You can’t be a grumpy Wiggle,” Simon laughs.

“We’re inherently happy people, but when you’re doing shows, it could be the fourth show in a day for us. It’s tiring! But we try to remember that for a lot of the audience, it might be their first time seeing us live, so it’s up to us to give the best show possible.

“The energy of the audience is so infectious; you can’t help but smile and have a great time.”

And with the arrival of Asher the baby Wiggle, he’s going to need all the energy he can get!

The tour kicks off in Invercargill on March 19 and will take the talented team to Dunedin, Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga, Hamilton, Auckland, Napier and Palmerston North before finishing in Wellington on April 1.


 

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!”

 

 


 

A Major success


She’s the self-professed “small woman with a big voice”, who went from a three-year-old country crooner to one of the highest accoladed performers this country has seen. But the high note of Dame Malvina Major’s 50-year operatic career is the foundation set up in her name that celebrates its 30th anniversary next year. Metropol catches up with Dame Malvina about her life’s work.

The seventh of eight children, Dame Malvina has been entertaining crowds since first clambering onto the stage to join her siblings at two.

Country music was the family remit. But recognising the big voice coming from the small Malvina, it wasn’t long before her mother was pushing her into opera, despite a personal penchant for Broadway.

“It was a career that happened because I had the voice to do it in the first place, not because I wanted to be an opera singer,” says Dame Malvina.

“I was kind of led along by the success of it and ended up in a place where I didn’t know I wanted to be, but I kept getting contracts and it became my life.

“And in the finish, I loved it; the satisfaction of singing at that incredibly high-powered level, learning the required precision – that’s what stimulated me and I enjoyed that. Then after every mountain you climb you feel the rewards of reaching the top.”

Just before she reached the very top, with the world at her feet, Dame Malvina Major walked away.

A young Taranaki farmer, Winston Fleming, had won her heart and the couple married in 1964, before moving to England where their son Andrew was born.

Dame Malvina was poised for an exceptional international career, but it was home soil and family life that she craved, and, by the turn of the century, she was home.

“I was 15 years off the international scene and walked back in like it hadn’t happened. By then I had three children,” she says.

“When I look back at my career, I think of the words of Frank Sinatra – I did it my way.”

There have been plenty of highs throughout her career; she sang an outdoor concert at the pyramids in Egypt with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra, she collaborated with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, she gave concerts to open and close the 2007 Rotary International Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah and she performed at the Covent Garden where she replaced Dame Joan Sutherland in Die Fledermaus. She has sung for kings, queens, princes, princesses and even an empress!

But perhaps her proudest achievement is the foundation which bears her name. “Like a lot of things in my life, it happened by chance,” she laughs.

Dame Malvina had been talking with the New Plymouth West Rotary Club about how lonely she was heading overseas to establish herself at 22.

“I felt like I was in a distant far off place. I wanted to do something to make sure New Zealand students going abroad had a connection and didn’t feel the loneliness I had felt.”

The Dame Malvina Major Foundation was launched in 1991 at Premier House in Wellington, an event hosted by then Prime Minister, Jim Bolger, and his wife, Joan. Almost three decades on, the foundation continues to provide support for talented young performing artists to achieve their potential, through financial assistance, performance opportunities and professional guidance, helping them to prepare for professional careers.

Dame Malvina – who has been a Senior Fellow in Music at the University of Waikato since 2012 – isn’t resting on her laurels. “I’m supposed to be retired,” she laughs.

“I keep saying they have to rename ‘retirement’. I’m certainly not sitting at home knitting or playing golf, though I do that, too! I’m very involved with youth; their future and progress, masterclasses and helping young people, attending performances, helping with the foundation.”

She’s also busy working on plans to create a training school within the foundation that has been in the back of her mind for 20 years.

“The idea is to enable the foundation to become a steppingstone to the world, so rather than sending young people to other parts of the world to train, doing it right here in New Zealand.”

She’s also got 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren that play a big part in her life. “They’ve become hugely important to me and, as I get older, it’s even more important that I
see them and show them my love.”


 

Loving Ellie’s Belly


Summer is here, a time of year where pressure to look a certain way is amplified and when our inner saboteurs thrive. Twenty-nine-year-old Christchurch woman Ellie Haines has gained a notable online following for challenging these beauty standards. Metropol catches up with the hilariously honest and refreshingly real activist about self-love and redefining the status quo.

 

Your Instagram account started to document a weight loss journey. What inspired the transition to @lovingelliesbelly, a place to celebrate body positivity?
“I was around 23 when I first started ‘Losing Ellie’s Belly’. At that point I had a ‘need’ to lose weight and thought that I would be happier when I did. I was spending several hours each day at the gym and sharing all the meals I was eating trying to, I guess, ‘inspire’ others to lose weight with me. I tried to make myself vomit and not eat. I was asked by an ex-boyfriend to delete the page as he could see my unhealthy addiction to it. I deleted the page – but then he dumped me! So I began the blog again, this time I was on a mission to ‘get a revenge body’, which I documented for a few months, until I went to the live premiere of Embrace: The Documentary and I met the director, Tarryn. Afterwards in the car with my mum and sister in law I said, ‘I am changing what I do, I want to inspire people to love themselves as they are’. And I did exactly that! Here we are today with an amazing community of women and men who inspire, uplift each other, and let me be me.”


There’s been a big movement online surrounding body-positivity, body-normativity and stopping body shaming. You call yourself “plus size” in your online bio – what does this movement mean to you?
“In New Zealand, if you are size 12-plus you are plus size, and those words have such a bad stigma. There is nothing wrong with being plus size (or as I like to call it, extra luscious) because in fact the average Kiwi women’s size is 12 to 14. So, by putting that in my bio, I want to instantly break the barrier for anyone new that comes to my page to know I am proud of my size, and so should we all be.”


Pop star, Lizzo, recently told Vogue body positivity has become “too commercialised and cool”. Can you talk a little bit about the commercialisation and hijacking of this message?
“There are so many people that will post about body positivity because it’s a trending hashtag but really don’t have self-love. Inspiring yes, but you can’t promote something if you don’t believe it. I would share photos of my body, say in togs, and women would comment saying I was ‘brave’, and it makes me sad that a woman standing there at a beach in togs is considered brave. Why is that brave? Because society has destroyed our thinking to make us believe we are not good enough as we are? One of my favourite quotes is, “If we started loving our bodies, imagine how many industries would be out of business” – and it really makes you think, doesn’t it?”


A lot of the above movement seems to be driven by younger generations. Have you noticed anything generational about your journey, or your supporters and critics?
“I have actually found my biggest supporters are a few generations above. Many women my mum’s age say it’s helped them and how they wish they had someone back in their day to help inspire. They then recommend me to their daughters! I fear the younger generation actually have it harder. On Tik Tok, they are editing their faces with extreme beauty filters and living in this [false] reality that that is ‘beauty’. We’ve got a big fight ahead of us to ensure we protect the younger generation from what’s online!”



Coming into summer we see a lot of “how to get a summer body”-type messaging. What would your advice be for women at this time of year when facing the tide of body image-related content?
“Oh gosh, isn’t it sad at this time of the year how much advertising goes on to achieve the ‘perfect bod’. When you already have the perfect body! That’s where that quote above comes in handy, right! Just wear the togs, or change from pants at the beach to shorts, or t-shirt to a singlet – enjoy summer and don’t let the worry of what you think others are thinking, stop you from living your life. My favourite quote is, “nobody is actually looking” – and it is so true because everyone is in their own lane, fighting their own body confidence issues at the beach or just simply having too gooda time, to even care what others are doing!”

 

Ellie behind the scenes at a photoshoot.

 

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!”