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Our people today, The Project NZ tonight. (Image: Tina Tiller)
Our people today, The Project NZ tonight. (Image: Tina Tiller)

Pop CultureDecember 1, 2023

A look back at The Project NZ’s most memorable moments

Our people today, The Project NZ tonight. (Image: Tina Tiller)
Our people today, The Project NZ tonight. (Image: Tina Tiller)

As the show prepares for its final episode, we look back at some of the weird and wonderful moments from the last six years of The Project NZ. 

The Project NZ burst into the 7pm slot in February 2017, and has since served us everything from Lizzo’s opinion on cheese rolls, to searing monologues about inequality, to the live televised wedding of a couple from Rangiora. “We’ve had an incredibly good innings and we’re so proud of everything our team has accomplished,” host Kanoa Lloyd said in her recent My Life in TV interview. “We’ve teared up reading messages from our beautiful audience and those who have contributed to the show.” 

It’s like they always says – don’t cry because it’s over, smile because “come box”. Join us as we look back at some of the most weird, wonderful and memorable moments to ever grace The Project NZ over the last six (and a bit) years. 

It’s not the same old song and dance (2017)

The Project NZ’s all-singing, all-dancing promo remains a solid banger nearly seven years after it first cartwheeled onto our screens. Jazz hands! Dance moves! Three part harmonies! What more did we need in 2017? “Fricken love this ad. Whenever it pops up during dinner. I drop my food and dance and sing to it,” one thrilled YouTube fan commented. That you, Jesse Mulligan? / TW

Kanoa goes makeup free (2023) 

As much as I’d like to imagine a world where a woman’s bare face on TV did not make headlines, this was a big deal and thus should be commemorated in this historic listicle. Following a story about social media and beauty filters, Kanoa Lloyd decided to wipe off her heavy TV makeup live on camera. It took what appeared to be roughly 30,000 baby wipes and a whole ad break to get the job done, but she returned to the desk, fresh-faced and radiant as ever. A powerful symbolic move among other powerful symbolic moves during her tenure. / AC

Chris Hemsworth’s bum bum (2022) 

Nothing brings people together like some tip top bum-bum chit chat, so we applaud The Project for squeezing 12 cheeky “bum bum” references into this interview with Taika Waititi and Chris Hemsworth. Is that Hollywood for you? Bum bums, all day long. / TW

The one entirely in te reo Māori (2022)

In 2022, The Project did an entire episode in te reo Māori in celebration of Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. “One thing that really helped me climb this mountain, was thinking of my daughter, and how I can help her connect to Reo Māori,” Lloyd told Newshub. “Doing this show is a way for me to show her that she is cool and her whakapapa and her language are cool.” / AC

‘Come box’ (2023)

A wise man once said: if you build it (a live TV show) they will come (box). We broke down Kanoa Lloyd’s iconic slip of the tongue earlier in the year, and are very pleased to announce the clip still holds up. Kanoa face-palms the desk while Paddy Gower assures her it is not a dream, Guy Williams roars into the void and Antonia Prebble titters politely like a queen. It’s the filthiest blooper since Jim Hickey’s come-burgers and begs the question, first bravely asked by my Real Pod co-host Duncan Greive… do come-burgers come in come boxes? Makes you think. / AC

A very weird exclusive with Slash

Not only was this Slash’s first TV interview in five years, but it revealed the Guns N’ Roses guitarist is a big fan of reptiles. The main reason he came to Aotearoa? “The tuatara is here, and I’m a big reptile guy,” Slash told Ben Hurley. Say no more, Slash. Say no more. / TW

Mulligan frees the nipple for Lorde

I think about this interview a lot more than I should. You’ve got a giant Lorde hovering above The Project studio like the Wizard of Oz. You’ve got Jesse Mulligan pretending to smoke from a fennel bong and saying “can I join your sexy beach cult?” You’ve got the way Lorde says “…cool!” in response. You’ve got the open linen shirt, the big floppy hat, the apocalyptic sun graphics everywhere. Not the same old song and dance, indeed. / AC

Harry Styles has no smiles

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Harry Edward Styles told The Project NZ in 2021, but we can only assume all that excitement was hiding on the inside. In what could be the most low-energy interview ever seen on The Project, poor old Hazza’s vibe was the opposite of the mood of the Project team, who were fit to burst that Harry would soon tour in Aotearoa. A sign of the times, perhaps, or just daydreaming into daylight? Only Harry knows the truth. / TW

An f-bomb to rule them all (2019)

In August 2019 The Project NZ was finally struck by its first f-bomb. It started off like any other studio interview. Toni Fonoti, founding member of Herbs, was there to promote their new documentary Herbs: Songs of Freedom. Regaling the audience with a tale about giving Stevie Wonder a fright in the toilet, he revealed how the ‘Isn’t She Lovely?’ singer had two words for Tonoti: “fuck off”. Kanoa Lloyd gasped and a hush fell over the audience. “Well, that is a first for The Project” said Mulligan, heralding the end of the show’s 597 episode fuck-free streak. / AC

The prime minister interviews a British comedian (2017)

Not every comedian arrives in New Zealand and gets interviewed by the prime minister on live telly, but that’s exactly what happened to Jimmy Carr in 2019 when Jacinda Ardern was a guest host on The Project NZ. “Any tips on how to manage hecklers?” Ardern asked Carr. “Say something that’s very New Zealand, like yeah nah,” he advised, before Josh Thomson stood up and proved that everyone on The Project really does wear shorts under the desk. / TW

The final episode of The Project NZ airs tonight at 7pm Three.

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