Spy's best of 2017

Ricardo Simich,
Spy News,
Publish Date
Saturday, 23 December 2017, 5:27PM

Happy Christmas from the Spy team. We have enjoyed another star-studded year, with no shortage of A-Listers featuring in the pages and many overseas stars living it up in our fine country. As the curtain falls on 2017 we look back on a year full of weddings, engagements, hookups and babies — in the real world or that other world of reality TV. 

Best Inspiration

Rachel Hunter


Last Christmas Rachel Hunter let social media followers know her beloved mother Janine Phillips was battling cancer. Over the next few months Hunter shared moments from her family’s journey as she visited many New Zealand spots that were special to her. On May 22 she announced in a heartfelt post that Janine had passed away.

Since then Hunter has kept her followers in tune with her beliefs and love of life. Her second season of Tour of Beauty was a triumph.

In August, she was made a US Ambassador for Auckland by Ateed and in November she went on a pilgrimage through India, culminating this month with the announcement she had become a qualified yoga instructor after graduating from a top yoga academy in India.

Last week the former supermodel joined her two children Renee and Liam Stewart in London, where they piled into a photo booth together.

Best Live Act

Lorde wowed her home country with sold-out NZ concerts but the stamina factor goes to the biggest show of the year Pleasuredome The Musical. The Kiwi-created 80s musical, headlined by Lucy Lawless, premiered on September 22 with over 50,000 punters — many donning 80s gear — making their way to the purpose-built set in studios in Avondale.

Arrival was via the mock streets of New York, before entering the Pleasuredome underground nightclub.

The show was extended for three months of disco nostalgia. Lawless’ character Sappho and a talented cast belted out 80s ballads until last night.

At 2am this morning the set was ripped down and the show will say goodbye to NZ. Spy understands big overseas outlets have been scouting.

Best Weddings Engagements, hookups and babies!


Christina Macpherson and Tom Paterson in Greece


 The King and Queen of New Zealand sport started and ended the year with weddings. In January, former All Black captain Richie McCaw married former Black Stick  Gemma Flynn in a top-secret ceremony at the Olive Grove in Wanaka, sending the nation’s media into a flurry.

And, last month Silver Fern Maria Tutaia  married rugby player Israel Folau in Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales.

In February, songstress and talkshow host Anika Moa and TV journalist/producer Natasha Utting walked down the aisle in a stunning ceremony at Bethells Beach, Auckland.

In May, People’s Choice Winner of The Block NZ 2016, Dylan Cossey  — the big Dyls of Team Dyls and Dylz snuck off to Hawaii for a small ceremony, marrying Napier police officer Libby Bradford.

In August, Black Caps star Trent Boult tied the knot with Mt Maunganui primary school teacher Gert Smith in a picturesque ceremony at Kauri Bay Boomrock in Clevedon.

On the engagement front, internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom was engaged to Elizabeth Donnelly in January, and former first season Bachelor NZ reality stars Art Green and Matilda Rice  got engaged in September on a beach in Rarotonga.

In October, atop a mountain in Queenstown, Shortland Street star Pua Magasiva popped the question on bended knee to primary school teacher Lizz Sadler. Survivor NZ finalist Tom Paterson  became engaged to model/blogger Christina Macpherson in Greece in July and still in the reality stakes, Block NZ contestant Yanita McLeay was stunned when her partner Jordan Hall surprised her with a marriage proposal, on top of her renovated roof — the slightly awkward engagement being played out on the show.

New couples include expat actress Kim Crossman, who is loved-up with Josh Edwards; actor Martin Henderson who has gone public over his relationship with director/producer and arts patron Helen Randag. Anna Hutchison  became engaged to Hollywood manager Mike Gillespie in Paris.

Marc Ellis’ ex-wife Agustina Mon is now dating boxing organiser David Higgins.

Newshub presenter Samantha Hayes is in a relationship with scientist Jacob Anderson and My Kitchen Rules NZ contestant Charlotte Brown  has struck up a romance with fellow contestant Jaryd Gray.

In baby news, the pitter patter of tiny feet has come for brothers Ardie and Julian Savea over the past few weeks.

Julian and wife Fatima had baby girl Jude earlier this month, and last week younger brother Ardie proposed to partner Saskia Hartmann-Hechenberger, the same week they welcomed baby girl Kobe.

TV presenter Laura McGoldrick-Guptill and Black Cap husband Martin Guptill welcomed “Baby Guppy” — a baby girl, Harley, in October. Also that month comedian Madeleine Sami and wife Ladyhawke (Pip Brown) welcomed a baby girl and Dame Valerie Adams and her husband Gabriel Price welcomed a daughter Kimoana Josephine Adams-Price.

In pending baby news Matthew Ridge, who also got married this year to Chloe Alexa Liggins are expecting their first bub soon.

Best visiting Mega Stars

Adele was here back in March

In January, well before the release of his new album The Thrill of it All, Sam Smith enjoyed time in New Zealand with Kiwi Emma Champtaloup showing him the sights of Rotorua and partying it up at Lake Tarawera.

Fellow Brit megastar Adele melted hearts at her sold-out concerts at Mt Smart in March, gaining legendary status as she sang her ballads through torrential rain. Afterwards she and her husband Simon Konecki partied at Seafarers at Britomart, celebrating the end of tour with her close friends and band.

DJ duo Sweet Mix Kids kept the team moving and Adele, wearing slip-on shoes, was on the dance floor for most of the night, dancing and singing along to old and new favourites.

In November, Drake had a pre-party and an after-party at Britomart, before his sold-out concerts at Spark Arena. The American rapper enjoyed a private party at the multi-level bar 1885, where he is said to have left a $1000 tip. Three nights later he had a last-minute after-party at Seafarers where he and his crew partied through to the early hours of Sunday morning.

Seafarers was also the perfect spot for Sir Richard Branson to let his hair down, alongside A-Listers including Rachel Hunter, Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie and sports stars Beauden Barrett and Liam Malone, the night before his black-tie dinner in March.

On the acting front in February, Oprah Winfrey returned to NZ to shoot the movie, A Wrinkle in Time with  Reese Witherspoon. The pair went snap-happy on their social media accounts, praising Godzone at hot tourist spots — The Remarkables, Lake Hawea and Amisfield Winery.

When the Mission Impossible 6 crew filmed in the South Island in June and July, Superman star Henry Cavill had us all saying: “Tom Cruise who?”.

While Cruise stayed elusive, Cavill and co-star Simon Pegg had Aucklanders buying plane tickets to Queenstown, when they were both seen happily posing with fans at bars around the town. Cavill gave memorable shout-outs to the visiting Lions’ players and did wonders for NZ Tourism with his posts from iconic spots including Milford Sound.

Best Plus One

Clarke Gayford started the year as the partner of Labour MP Jacinda Ardern.

In between work on his TV show Fish of the Day, he supported Ardern through to her victory in the Mt Albert by-election.

In March, she became the deputy leader of the Labour Party and in August the leader. Gayford finished the second part of the year as “First Man” and has done a good job getting used to balancing a life in Auckland and Wellington. He has supported Ardern at events on the political and social scene, including the New Zealand Music Awards — where the couple have shone in past years — and the NZ Rugby Awards.

Shooting finished on Fish of the Day at the end of last month. Next year the programme will be broadcast on Prime in New Zealand, and via National Geographic in 38 other countries.

Best Fashion Game

Jaime Ridge

In April, Eric Watson’s son Sam was taking fashion business advice from Jaime Ridge, who has become an internationally recognised fashion brand in the new age of digital media.

A few months later, Ridge embarked on a four-month fashion tour of the world, sitting front row and working with big global brands including Louis Vuitton and Gucci. When we ran into Ridge on her return last month, the once shy young lady had bloomed into a confident woman.

Also on the international fashion circuit was New York-based Kiwi supermodel Georgia Fowler, who started her year in NZ at Rhythm & Vines before hitting the catwalks and pages of the world’s best magazines. Her second return to the Victoria’s Secret catwalk — this year in Shanghai — was witnessed by her mother and aunties and this week Fowler proudly showed her social media followers a 14-page spread of her modelling the latest trends in US Elle Magazine.

Special mentions go to Steve Dunstan’s brand Huffer, which celebrated its 20th year in business with an epic arena show as the finale to NZFW in August. Speaking of streetwear, All Black Ardie Savea, along with his now-fiancee Saskia Hartmann-Hechenberger, launched Ardie Savea Clothing with its signature logo of Ardie’s face. All signs are showing the two have good heads for the fashion business.