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Joe Daymond at West Park (Image : Stewart Sowman-Lund & Tina Tiller)
Joe Daymond at West Park (Image : Stewart Sowman-Lund & Tina Tiller)

MediaFebruary 15, 2022

Joe Daymond is ready to shake up the media

Joe Daymond at West Park (Image : Stewart Sowman-Lund & Tina Tiller)
Joe Daymond at West Park (Image : Stewart Sowman-Lund & Tina Tiller)

Comedian turned reality TV star Joe Daymond is gearing up for the launch of a brand new show he produced with Māori TV. He tells Stewart Sowman-Lund how it came about – and why he’s so excited.

From a small office overlooking Auckland’s Britomart precinct, Joe Daymond is plotting to take on the mainstream media. The comedian turned Instagram personality turned reality show contestant turned content producer always dreamed of having his own office in the heart of the Auckland CBD. And now, at 26 years old, it’s a reality. His TV production company West Park has nestled into a downtown apartment complex just five years after it was launched in a garage of one of Daymond’s old flats.

For most of that time, West Park had just a single staff member. Now there’s seven and a new deal with Māori Television will see Daymond and his team responsible for producing original content for the network. 

I profiled Daymond less than a year ago, when I called him “the next big thing” in NZ comedy. That was after he’d managed to sell out Auckland’s Skycity Theatre (twice) and popped up on comedy shows like Have You Been Paying Attention? and 7 Days. But, sitting across from Daymond in this small, bright room above Customs Street, I wonder if “next big thing” was an understatement. In the nine months since our chat, he’s made it onto mainstream reality TV with a stint on Celebrity Treasure Island, finished working on an original series for Comedy Central that he co-produced and is preparing to launch his first show as part of the Māori TV deal: Rags Are Riches. 

Duncan Greive chats to Joe Daymond on this week’s episode of The Fold. 

Follow The Fold on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

The Māori TV partnership started to take form around July last year. Daymond approached the network with his vision to produce social media-centric TV shows but with television resources. He’d already sat through dozens of meetings with big TV executive types, and Daymond says he’d got used to being told that everything he knew about TV was wrong – or that everything the network was doing was right. That was not his experience with Māori TV. “Maramena Roderick [director of content] saw the vision and was very upfront. She said: ‘I don’t exactly understand everything but I know there are better ways to do things and I think the way you’re thinking will be a way that works.’ I’d never heard that before.”

Daymond says he finally met someone who backed his way of thinking and was “super open to it” from the start.

Māori TV offered to internally fund a full TV series with Daymond’s production company as a sort of trial run for his vision. That show, an unscripted reality series (but on a much smaller scale than the likes of Treasure Island), launches at the end of the month. It’s called Rags Are Riches, and sounds a bit like a mash up of Project Runway and money-saving shows like Eat Well For Less. Hosted by comedian Courtney Dawson and Mai FM’s Randy Sjafrie, the show’s aimed at making high fashion accessible, with the help of an assortment of recognisable TV personalities who need advice on their wardrobes. “It’s about how people who don’t have a whole lot of money can still dress well,” explains Daymond. “It’s all about the sustainability and accessibility of high fashion.”

In one episode, Treasure Island alums Chris Parker and Lance Savali are challenged to create the best outfit possible from clothes bought at The Warehouse. Another episode focuses on the benefits of reusing old clothes. The likes of Breakfast co-host Matty McLean, social media star Tegan Yorwarth and actor Tammy Davis all pop up throughout the series.

While Daymond says the show will be “relatively small” he expects it will unlock bigger opportunities for many of the team involved. Aside from the guest stars, most of those on the show, including the hosts, have had little to no television experience. The entire production crew are still in their 20s. 

Daymond says that was intentional. “I was no less capable three years before the time I got opportunities,” he says. “There are so many of these people who are ready.” He points to Shit You Should Care About, the Instagram-centred news service run by three young women originally from Blenheim that’s garnered millions of online followers. “Building Shit You Should Care About makes them just as qualified as anybody else in that space. It’s about getting the people with the resources to recognise it,” says Daymond. “And if they don’t recognise it, they’re missing out on a goldmine.” 

Daymond intends for West Park’s future TV output to similarly offer opportunities for up and comers. “[TV networks] need to be open to people who have never done television. They’re not ‘inexperienced’, they’ve just never done TV,” he says.

Perhaps surprisingly, Daymond cites his run on Celebrity Treasure Island as part of the reason he is now confident in producing his own shows. In addition to giving him a higher public profile – thus opening more doors to him within the media industry – Daymond says it taught him how to run a production from behind the scenes. “I paid a lot of close attention to the producer on the show, like how he’d keep time and how he ran the set,” he said. “I took a lot of the lessons from Celebrity Treasure Island and pulled it into our productions.”

For now, Daymond’s getting ready to shake-up New Zealand’s media landscape. Along with Rags Are Riches, he’s got five shows already in development – both unscripted and scripted. He’s doing it all from his little office in Britomart now, but let’s see what happens in another year.

Read more: Joe Daymond is the next big thing.

Rags Are Riches launches later this month on Māori TV on demand.

Follow Duncan Greive’s NZ media podcast The Fold on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

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