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Author: Melinda Collins

Living life to the max

He’s broken his back in three places and suffered a serious heart attack, but Jason Gunn isn’t letting life get him down.



Jason laid it all on the table for a packed audience at Alpine View Lifestyle Village, courtesy of their TRILife Talks Wellness Programme last month; the ups, the downs and everything in between.

Living life in the limelight since he was 18 years old, he recounts his high profile career; the best part he says, was children’s television, something which also enabled him to bring joy to sick children in hospital.

The first was a young girl he’d been asked to sit with for 20 minutes to cheer her up. Those 20 minutes became four hours, pushing her around in a wheelchair and drawing her funny cartoon pictures.

About 10 years later, when he was making another show in Wellington, a young girl races up to him and says, ‘Hi Jason Gunn, I don’t know if you remember me, but you came to see me when I was young and my mum said you gave me the will to live!’

Two years ago, Jason’s daughter Faith moved to Dunedin to do a degree in photography. A young woman had come over to check out the flat and Faith agreed she could have the remaining room. Just as she was leaving, she pointed to some drawings and said ‘what’s that?’ Faith said, ‘I was just doing some drawings that my dad taught me to do and the young lady said, ‘is your dad Jason Gunn?’

“So for the last two years, that little girl I went and saw in hospital has been looking after my little girl in Dunedin. Sometimes when you do a little bit of something for someone else it comes around again.”

Jason went from children’s television to prime-time television, which is when Dancing with the Stars came in. He got to meet some interesting people, including Tim Shadbolt, Rodney Hyde and Paul Holmes.

Jason describes Sir Tim as a genius and says you could ask him anything and he would manage to turn it around to Invercargill. He describes meeting Sir Paul Holmes as “an honour”.

Some time later, there was a new show in town, New Zealand’s Got Talent, hosted by Tamati Coffey. A newspaper review said, ‘finally we’ve got the Jason Gunn we always wanted’. Jason received two messages on his phone that night. The first one said, ‘don’t ever forget son, there will only ever be one Jason Gunn’. The next new message was one minute later, ‘oh s**t sorry, I forgot to say, it’s Paul’. It was just two weeks before Paul passed away.

Jason also recounts the infamous Rodney Hyde drop. “They got the lowest score in the history of Dancing with the Stars which included a one and a one and a one, which Rodney pointed out to me was the number for St John – their chosen charity!”

It’s not just Rodney that has been accident-prone. When staying in Queenstown in 2016, helping a neighbour out by squishing rubbish into the wheelie bin turned ugly when he broke his back in three places. ACC actually contacted him to say thank you.
“They said ‘last year, Jason, there were over 717 injuries due to wheelie bins, but after your accident that’s down to 600’, so I made a difference!”

About two years ago, his next hospital stay was a bit more serious. The gym attendant was convinced Jase had been pushing it too hard, so he drove himself back to work where his wife convinced him to see a doctor, who called an ambulance immediately. It was a heart attack and required an operation to get a stent put in.

It was an experience that would teach him what was important in life. “It isn’t about what you think about but what you don’t think about. I didn’t think about work, didn’t worry about money, didn’t worry about stresses; all I thought about was my four gorgeous children.”

Along with photographer Faith, there is Grace, an actress who appeared on Shortland Street for two years playing nurse Lucy; Eve, who was previously one half of the long running TVNZ youth programme The Adam & Eve Show and is currently working with Jason in his new speaking business, until she heads off next year to do a psychology degree; there’s Louis who loves his cricket and rugby; then there’s his wife Janine who runs everything – the house and the business.

A doctor in hospital after his heart attack told him that he now had permission to change anything in his life – change house, change wife… and while he has had no desire to change either of those things, there have been some changes.

He’s been spending more time with his family, he’s doing less radio and television and he’s started his own speaking business so he can work on his own terms.

Now he’s getting to meet all sorts of people to help them with their speaking and his biggest dream is to get into schools and teach children. And you just know that with an attitude like Jason’s, he’s going to get there.




A fairytale romance: Q&A with Erin Simpson

When beloved television presenter Erin Simpson met former Bachelor contestant Zac Franich, it was love at first sight. So not surprisingly, their wedding day on 25 October was a fairytale come true. We catch up with Erin about the big day.



You must be one of the busiest people in New Zealand right now! Can you tell us about your new series, Adventure All Stars, that starts screening next year?
Adventure All Stars is exactly that, an Adventure with a bunch of All Stars! Each episode (six in total) we take a group of amazing people away who have been working tirelessly over the past 12 months raising over $10,000 each for the chosen charity. We take them away on holiday, treat them like VIPs, show them around the country and cram in as many New Zealand activities as we can! We are very excited for you to see it, it’s going to be such a fun show to watch with all your friends and family.

You were filming right up to the night before your wedding, something I’m sure no bride could fathom! How did the wedding go and was it everything you’d ever dreamed of?
Yeah it wasn’t by choice haha. We had planned the wedding date before the role for Adventure All Stars came up. I nearly didn’t get the role because I needed the wedding day off so I was very grateful in the end to be able to do both. The week of your wedding doesn’t have to be a pampering, relaxed week, it is what you make it but I’m very lucky I had amazing friends and family who could bring my wedding dresses, shoes and all the things I needed and meet them there on the day!

The Auckland Convention Centre fire nearly derailed everything, with your wedding at the next door Cathedral of St Patrick and St Joseph. How stressful was that period, not knowing how everything was going to pan out?
I wouldn’t say it was stressful; I think the word ‘stress’ is a very overrated word. The SkyCity Convention Centre was on fire yes! The church was blocked off yes and very smoky yes! I was in the rural Rotorua bush with no cellphone reception, but at the end of the day, both these places are big enough to have back up plans and when things go wrong it’s just a matter of waiting to be told what to do. It wasn’t stressful, it was emotional! ‘New emotions’ is what I like to experience rather than stress.

Can you tell us about the amazing story behind how you met?
Haha yeah we met on the red carpet of the NZVMAs a few years back. I was reporting for TVNZ on a show called Red Carpet NZ and Zac was a guest on the carpet. He got to me at the end of the line and it was like we both just stood there and had conversations with ourselves. I was thinking, ‘OMG he looks so good, OMG he’s single now! OMG, do I look good? OMG say something Erin, you’re working!’ But it was like he was having those conversations with himself at the exact same time! What proceeded to happen was one of my worst celebrity interviews to date! I can’t even remember what I said, oh no wait, I can, it’s all caught on camera! As soon as Zac passed, my camera man (who I work with all the time) put down his camera and said ‘what the heck was that?’ I couldn’t do anything but just stand there and giggle! Obviously the interview was too crap to ever make the big screen but he sent the footage to me the next day and so I posted it on my Instagram page (@erinsimpson13) for everyone to see the magical disaster that was the time we met haha.

You went from What Now? and Sticky TV to fronting The Erin Simpson Show. What attracted you to kids’ shows and performing?
I guess children and teenagers have an energy and a beautiful outlook on life that a lot of adults lose as they get older. I myself have not lost any of that so I find I can be myself around them more and I wouldn’t call it performing, I’m not putting on an act, I’m just there as me. Then again, it’s not actually even about me; I’m simply there to move traffic and ask the questions on behalf of everyone watching at home. I’m there to make others shine, not perform.

You made your home down here in Christchurch for much of your career. What do you love the most about our little southern spot?
Christchurch is like the London of New Zealand. From Christchurch you can get in your car and drive anywhere you like and within a few hours be somewhere amazing that the rest of the world has to travel for days to simply come and see.

What’s next for you after Adventure All Stars?
I guess that’s the beauty of this industry, you just don’t know. I would hope we get a second season and I would hope more opportunities come up so I can showcase New Zealand and the beautiful people who live here. Otherwise, I will continue enjoying every day with my amazing new husband who I fell in love the very day I met him.

What’s on your bucket list?
Everything! I was telling Zac the other day, I never feel content. He went on to say ‘No, you’re like a meerkat; always up and looking for that next thing to do.’ So hopefully I never lose the will to see and do everything I can.




Editor’s Perspective: 21 November 2019

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” – Gore Vidal



Looking down the line-up of The Crossing Fashion Starts Here Best Dressed Best Dressed finalists at Addington this year, I was struck by just how magnificent fashion is.

It was Rachel Zoe that once said, ‘Fashion is a way to say who you are without having to speak’ and I’m not sure a truer word has ever been said on the topic.

This year’s Best Dressed Lady sash was draped over Nikki Pagen’s white, red and blue ensemble; which was simple in aesthetic and yet impeccable in its execution. In a bright and brilliant contrast, runner-up Stephanie Murray was in sunny yellow from head-to-toe. Meanwhile, for the Best Dressed Man Matt Anderson, cobalt blue was the name of the fashion game, with a hand-stitched checked jacket that he paired with bright white pants.

Despite – or perhaps because of – fashion’s increasingly casual constitution, the opportunity to welcome a much more traditional aesthetic is a welcome one. And yet, irrespective of the conservative nature of the day, we still manage to have fun with fashion, with hats, shoes and fascinators that are as colourful and creative as the jockeys’ silks.

But what caught my attention the most was the fact that every attendee – and there were 20,000 of them – was having a ball.



Time to replenish

We love summer… I mean, what’s not to love, right?



While summer is the season to kick back, relax and enjoy the outdoors, it’s not time to slack on your skincare routine.

Even on the overcast Kiwi days, UV rays are harmful, but when you’re spending long days languishing on the beach or at the park, it’s particularly pertinent. Here’s our top tips.


  1. Pucker up: Skincare may be hot on your agenda, but lips also need some summer loving. Look for lipgloss that provides moisture with SPF.
  2. Slough it away: This is the time of year to step up your exfoliation routine; follow it up with a great moisturising routine and you’re away laughing.
  3. Don’t scrimp on the scalp: Hair may provide some protection, but sensitive scalps can still get burned. Use sunscreen along your hair line and where your hair parts.
  4. Rinse and repeat: Take a few extra showers, especially after sweating. The added benefit to hydration is that it will keep your skin clear.
  5. Get hatty: This is the best excuse to pull that wide rimmed hat out of the closet for full protection.
  6. Misty days: If you stash a bottle of face mist in your beach bag, you can soothe and hydrate your skin at the same time as getting a cool down.







Q&A: Jason Kerrison’s Kiwi Tour

We caught up with multi-platinum, multi-award-winning singer-songwriter, producer, planetarian, carpenter and hemp farmer Jason Kerrison during his New Zealand tour about having croissants and champagne in Akaroa and writing his latest single.




How is the tour going?
It’s been really fun getting out in front of a public audience again. Nelson was the first show at The Boatshed – what a great venue and staff. The audience was lovely and really engaged; much like the Akaroa crowd they quite like jumping up on the stage and becoming part of the show. Some sang, played my guitar while I sang, danced, stage dived. It was very entertaining for me! We are booking more shows as demanded!

You were down our way for Frenchfest recently. How does it feel to get back to your hometown of Christchurch when you can?
I forgot just how much of a jewel Akaroa is as it’d been quite some time since I’d ventured into the depths of Banks Peninsula. The French-styled Airbnb was crazy cool and delightful, complete with complementary buttery croissants and champagne! The gig was off the hook and I met some good old friends for brekky the day after with dad, so it became a really special weekend. It was also really reassuring and heart-warming seeing the wairua make its way back into the central city of Christchurch. Beautiful buildings are one thing but they are nothing without the people.

What is the most fulfilling part of what you get to do?
The most fulfilling thing is seeing and hearing people enjoy themselves, whether that be clapping in or out of time, dancing to slow previously undanced-to tunes, or singing full out in the chorus or instrumental parts of a song. Seeing people entertained is the juice, especially if they’re feeling free enough to let loose and get involved in the abandonment for a little bit.

How did you get your first break?
Depends how you see it really; I jumped on stage for kapa haka at the Newfield Tavern in Invercargill when I was about nine. But played my first tunes on stage with the St Bedes rock band called VIVID at the Woolston Working Men’s Club for three songs, we were about 14. We felt like rockstars!

Your music has gone platinum nine times, you’ve won nine New Zealand Music Awards, an APRA Silver Scroll Award for Song of the Year and were made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for Services to Music in 2011. What do you consider to be some of your career-defining moments?
Those ones are pretty cool, but I think the most enduring difference I feel I got to make with music was when I helped lead a great team of people to create an earthquake relief concert called ‘Band Together for Canterbury’ on 23 October just six weeks after the first earthquake in 2010. We managed to convince 30+ iconic NZ acts to perform, TV3 to simulcast the event, and a reported 100,000 people attended. Cantabrians had been through massive disruptions and stress. Seeing people lose themselves in the music for the day was very rewarding and it was truly an honour to be of service in that way and I was overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone who made the day work.

Since Opshop’s hiatus in 2013, you’ve been paving your own way. How does a day in the life of Jason Kerrison look these days?
Well, I would walk you through my day today but it’s been particularly uneventful. I broke the little toe on my left foot two evenings ago, finally had x-rays this morning (which confirmed a nasty break) and have subsequently been ordered to stay still all day on the couch. I’m getting better at practising stillness, like Eckhart Tolle stillness, but I’m not great at keeping still for long. The day prior to the break I spent the afternoon on the hemp farm liming the paddocks in preparation for planting and in the morning at my NorthTech carpentry course. I sat down to prepare some music for my upcoming shows and stubbed my toe on the stupid couch with the toe poking 90 degrees the wrong way.

That being, said I’ve got a single out at the moment called I Will If You Will. I wrote the song in my studio in the far north of New Zealand. It’s been quite some time since I wrote a deliberately electronic-sounding piece weaved with the foundation of a good old song. I Will If You Will is about daring the best of each other as people, especially in a relationship. I also wanted to write an uplifting fun track for big speakers. It’s intended to be fun, a little tongue-in-cheek too. It’s on all streaming platforms now and a lyric video is due early November.




A collaborative collection

What does popular New Zealand fashion designer Karen Walker have in common with an Australian denim production house? A whole lot, it seems. Karen Walker has just revealed her latest project; a collaboration with Outland Denim.


Based in Queensland, Australia, Outland Denim is a B-Corp company and one of the world’s hottest right now, because not only does this brand employ vulnerable women in Cambodia and provide them with a full skillset and personal development opportunities, sustainability is also close to its heart, making jeans with a lower environmental impact a core focus.

Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle has also caught the Outland Denim bug and the addition of Outland Denim to her wardrobe enabled the company to employ a further 46 seamstresses in their Cambodia-based production house.

We caught up with Karen Walker about the inspiration behind the collaboration and why it is so important to her.


The Karen Walker brand has long been committed to prioritising transparency, sustainability and ethical practices over profits. How important are these areas to you?
How you make your product is at the top of the agenda for any leading brand and will continue to be so.

What do you think are the most important areas businesses should be looking at when it comes to ethical business practice?
I think the most important thing is to ask yourself whether people really need the thing you’re making or the service you’re providing. Really consider every product you’re making before you make it and be sure it has a purpose and there’s a need for it.

For us, with this collaboration, we took the idea of utility denim pieces down to their very essence. What does the core of a utility workwear wardrobe look like and it turns out it’s one jacket, two jeans, a skirt, a t-shirt and a tote bag.

At the other end of the spectrum, our Atelier service makes a product only when people actually need it so it’s sparse in the extreme. And then, in the middle, with our ready-to-wear, we’re making about a third of the styles we were five years ago and bringing the collections down to their very core. We believe less truly is better.

Have you noticed change happening in this space?
Yes, I think people understand the urgency now more than they did five or 10 years ago.

How did the Outland capsule collaboration come about?
Mutual admiration and a shared desire to make beautiful, well-considered and needed things.

How did the design process behind this collaboration work, and what did Outland and Karen Walker each bring to the table?
We brought our unique design and Outland Denim brought their unique way of producing.

Why is this collaboration so important to you?
Collaborations are a way for brands to learn from one another. In this particular case Outland Denim’s Cambodian production team have learnt new skills required for the specific elements in our designs and we’ve learnt about new ways to approach the production of denim. Manufacturing of denim clothing has been very problematic for some time and Outland are on a journey to reinvent it and solve those issues that have been so intrinsic.

What was the inspiration behind the collection?
We wanted to create a family of garments that felt engineered and focused on structure and functionality.




Melinda Collins

Editor’s Perspective: 7 November 2019

“Health is a crown that the healthy wear but only the sick can see it.” – Imam Shafi’ee


Melinda Collins
Melinda Collins


You hear about broken hearts all the time. What you don’t hear so much of are stories of broken pancreases.

The pancreas plays a pretty important role in the body, producing insulin which keeps blood glucose levels in check. November is Diabetes Action Month and Shaun Wallace, the Dark Destroyer himself, is heading to the city to lend his support to this very worthy cause (page 28).

Two of the most common forms of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2. For Type 2 diabetics – the most common type – their bodies don’t effectively utilise insulin. For Type 1 diabetics, their bodies no longer produce insulin. An autoimmune condition that has resulted from one’s immune system over-compensating its attack on a virus, Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition, for which there is no cure. And, from first-hand experience, I can tell you this makes for one crazy rollercoaster ride!

I have some pretty clever gadgets which make the journey a more palatable one, including a continuous glucose metre (CGM) that reads my blood sugars 24/7 and this is connected to an insulin pump, both are attached to my stomach at all times.

They’re a bit like having an account do your taxes; you still need to feed the accountant the right numbers or you will end up in a world of hurt, but they take the pain out of the job – quite literally when it comes to blood testing!

So, while you hear about people who wear their hearts on their sleeves, now you can say you know of someone who wears their pancreas on their hip.




Float into summer

Party season is coming our way, which means barbecues, beach parties and picnics. What better way to welcome the season than with the addition of some floaty summer dresses to your wardrobe?

Check out this moodboard of our favourite seasonal selections.








10 years of Loobie’s Story

For 10 years now, Loobie’s Story has been adding the bohemian beauty to our wardrobes. Metropol catches up with founder Laurinda Sutcliffe about the brand’s exotic evolution.


Laurinda Sutcliffe



You’re celebrating an amazing 10-year milestone in business… How did Loobie’s Story come to be?
Loobie’s Story started when I found myself suddenly let go of my job as a creative director in fashion, a job that I had lived and loved for 20 years. Sitting at my dining room table with my husband Brent (about the same time he sold his menswear business), I decided it was time to venture into womenswear and create my own path, and so Loobie’s Story was born. I wanted to create a brand that was bohemian, light and fun – inspired by exotic locations and my love of travel. I feel so lucky to have been able to grow Loobie’s Story to what it is now over the past 10 years, with much more still to come!

What’s the story behind the name?
In a nod to my new business partner (my husband Brent), we named the brand after the nickname he affectionately made up for me when we first met, Loobie. Inspired by a blonde, blue-eyed little girl in an advert for washing powder – someone he thought I might have looked like when I was little. Now all of my nearest and dearest call me Loobie.

You’re now stocked in an impressive 140 stores! Why do you think New Zealand women have connected so strongly with the brand?
We started Loobie’s Story in a time when nearly everyone else was doing black and I think New Zealand women loved the bohemian spirit and colour in what we were doing. We continue to create each collection for a woman who is not afraid to buck the trends or stand out in a crowd whilst ensuring that every piece is still incredibly wearable. We’re inspired by far-flung exotic locales, to create pieces that can be loved as everyday wear or occasion wear for women across New Zealand and Australia. I think these core pillars of our brand are some of the reasons that New Zealand women love Loobie’s and we’ve amassed such an amazing network of retailers across New Zealand and Australia over the past decade.



Sustainability is something you’re increasingly passionate about. What are some of the sustainability measures you have in place?
Sustainability is a growing focus for our business and something we’re committed to. Each season our team mindfully designs collectible pieces; styles made to live comfortably in wardrobes for years to come. At the same time, our technical team work hard with suppliers to ensure the quality of our fabrics and garments will also withstand the test of time and a life well-lived. We recently released a roadmap to our sourcing and manufacture processes online, a source of information for customers that covers the areas of ethical design, responsible sourcing, the environment, people and a garment care guide which will be added to regularly in the coming months and years.

How would you describe the Loobie’s Story design philosophy?
The design philosophy for Loobie’s Story is all about understated glamour, beautiful prints, joyful colour and natural fabrics like easy-care viscose, silk, and perhaps the ultimate combination of opulence and practicality – silk with a little stretch. We focus on bringing a little bit of luxury to the everyday whether that be an outfit for your 9-to-5 or something for special occasions. The more elevated pieces are complemented with the everyday styles that underpin any hardworking capsule wardrobe and are made in the same shades found in the prints across the range. The idea was to make it easy for women to combine and layer our garments with complementary colour palettes that merge across seasons so they can confidently pull their own look together, whatever the occasion.

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
We will continue to ensure that we keep delivering what the market wants from both our brands, Loobie’s Story and Madly Sweetly, with collections that inspire our customers and fulfil their needs. Of course as a design team we are focused on integrating as many sustainable fabrics and yarns into our collections as possible to ensure that we are playing our part in protecting the environment. There are a few other exciting plans in the pipeline too… watch this space!




A talent for theatre

Roy Snow is about to take to the stage as Mervyn, the palagi boyfriend of Elizabeth in The Court Theatre’s milestone Pasifika play Fresh off the Boat which is showing at The Court Theatre until 9 November. We caught up with Roy about the role and what we can look forward to.


Roy Snow


You’ll always be Shortland Street’s Nurse Matt McAllister to me! But you’ve done a huge number of shows and films since – including Go Girls, Much Ado About Nothing and Outrageous Fortune! What attracted you to acting?
Many, many things, all impossible to quantify. That’s what we call, in the business, evading the question. But it’s not that far off the mark. Lots of little things make what I do incredible; playing, pretending, the hum of an audience, amazing creative people, camaraderie and the joy of doing something I’m super passionate about. I’ve stood in the dark wings in that moment before a show kicks off and thought, ‘Wow, not bad Snow, not bad’. All these things are probably a result of, rather than an initial attraction, so I’m going to say, ‘I loved to pretend’.

Can you tell us about your latest, Fresh off the Boat, and what you’ve enjoyed about this play?
Now this is a play! Ground-breaking when it premiered in the ‘90s, it exploded across New Zealand, the Pacific and then the world. What a journey it must have been for Pacific Underground and its vastly talented crew. No history lesson from me, I’m not qualified. But I can speak to the absolute joy this production has been to work on. So much passion, love and history in the room. You have uber talented daughters playing roles their mum, our director, and aunty played in the original production. We’re visited often by members of the Samoan community and laughter and music go hand in hand with the hard work being put in on the ‘boards’. It’s been a privilege just to be in the room.

Why should audiences get in to see this show?
Because so much of this play resonates 25 years after its Christchurch debut. Its themes are timeless: family, dislocation, culture clashes, discovering your freedom, growing up and dealing with everything that entails. Wrap that up in humour, aroha, music and a fair amount of ‘90s pop culture and you’ve got one heck of a play. See it. And… I’m in it.

How much of a different beast is live theatre to a soap opera?
It’s a different beast but mostly due to the technicality of each medium… boring! As an actor you notice the immediacy of theatre. You know or can feel when you’re in the zone on stage whereas screen has a few more ‘filters’ before it reaches your audience. Both are challenging, both are rewarding and once you’re over the initial nerves, a lot of fun.

What have been some of your most memorable roles over the years?
Oliver Twist. I was ten, it was my first musical. My mum played Nancy and was the star. Here I experienced my first moment of theatre magic. Mum had just sung As Long As He Needs Me and was in the throes of being murdered by the villainous Bill Sykes. I stood in the wings, I couldn’t see anything only hear the screams and pitiful pleas as the life was strangled out of my mum. Then nothing, a silence that, in my young brain, went on forever. In the Balclutha Community Hall, 400 people sat in complete silence for, what seemed to me, an eternity. It stuck with me ever since.

What’s the best part about what you get to do?
That I get to do it at all. I’ve been very fortunate and many wonderful people have contributed to the success I’ve had, none more so than my beautiful wife and whānau. I love what I do; that’s the best part.

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
That would be telling… That’s actor code for ‘no idea’. Not exactly true – I have a few irons in the fire that may include a musical and a touring show up north in 2020, but such is the nature of this ‘bizz’ that nothing is confirmed until I’ve signed on the dotted line. Straight after Fresh off the Boat I’m into A Christmas Carol at The Forge at The Court Theatre, which will take me right up to Christmas. Then, perhaps, a bit of ‘reno’ on my house in Geraldine if my wife has her way… and she will.


Read more about this milestone Pasifika play HERE.