The Anika Moa Unleashed host unleashes her thoughts on After the Party, Paul Holmes, The Walking Dead, stalking celebrities and more.
Anika Moa has a proud history of angering strangers online, whether it’s due to her tattoos, her love life, or something else entirely. When she sits down with The Spinoff, she’s in the midst of yet another controversy, this time surrounding the latest promo for Anika Moa Unleashed. “I’m getting heaps of people hating my guts just because I fake lit my own fart in the ad,” she cackles. “So much vitriol from all these people who just think I’m absolutely childish, immature, disgusting. I never reply – you know you’re winning if you’re pissing people off.”
You’re also winning if you’ve already made three seasons of a show with your own name in the title. The latest season of Anika Moa Unleashed sees the singer go axe throwing with Sir Ashley Bloomfield, hop in a spa with Shavaughn Ruakere and go to couples counselling with Uncle Tics. But her favourite interview of the season? All Blacks prop Angus Ta’avao. “He was just so sharp and witty, and a really good actor,” she says. “We did a fake scrum scene where we were rucking each other and doing orgasm noises – at least I think he was doing it too.”
As for her favourite Unleashed interview of all time? Sam Neill. “It felt like he was my dad. And I love him because as soon as we stopped filming, he was like, ‘get out of my house’. Really appreciate that.” After years of disarming local superstars with overly personal questions and dodgy impressions, Moa says the most important thing she has learned about interviewing is simple. “All you have to do to get people talking is shut up. Ask the question, shut up, and listen.” We took that sage advice into the following interview.
My earliest TV memory is… Being allowed to stay up late and watch The Goodnight Kiwi. We’d all watch the Kiwi climb up the TV tower and tuck into bed and the TV would go static. There’d be no more TV to watch, so we’d all be like “ugh, nothing else to do now.”
The show I would rush home from school to watch was… 3:45 LIVE! with Fenella. We were also avid What Now watchers. I had seven siblings, and I would always try and call in. That was one of my life goals to get on air on What Now but I never, ever got on air. I got on the Son of a Gunn show once, because our school used to go there all the time. They had this thing called “Kid Cam” that Jason Gunn chose me for, so I got to walk around and be all arty with the camera.
My first TV crush was… Paul Holmes. He was just there, every night at 7pm, and I loved him. I was a massive geek and I just found him really compelling. Maybe that’s why I am an interviewer now.
The TV moment that haunts me… I was obsessed with The Walking Dead. I’ve rewatched it so, so, so many times and me and my best friend are absolutely those people who worry about what will happen when the apocalypse comes. We have actually written out what we will do. I’m the hunter-gatherer, she’s the cook. We’ve done a huge plan for the zombie apocalypse, all because of The Walking Dead.
My favourite TV ad of all time is… The Pixie Caramel “any last requests?” ad. It has this guy who was about to be shot against the wall, so the guard goes, “any last requests?”. The guy says Pixie Caramel, and because it takes so long to eat them, he just really slowly eats the Pixie Caramel to draw out his death. [Fact check: He actually takes so long to eat it that the guards all fall asleep and he manages to escape.]
My TV guilty pleasure is… I watch everything trashy. Celebrity Treasure Island, celebrity this, celebrity that. I don’t care. I’ll watch anything. I actually cried in the latest season of Celebrity Treasure Island, it was so emotional for me when Tāme Iti left. I seriously watch anything. I love anything to do with zombies, sci-fi, intense spacey shit. I love rom coms. I’m a TV whore. As soon as the kids are in bed, I’ll try and shovel as much TV in as possible because I’ve got nowhere else to go. I’ll do three or four episodes of a TV show a night, if I can.
My favourite TV moment of all time is… When Ross cheated on Rachel, and then when she finds out he’s like “we were on a break”. I used to watch Friends religiously, and I loved them as a couple and I wanted them to survive so much. And then they didn’t – sucky.
The most stylish person on TV is… I love Sarah Snook from Succession, she’s just beautiful. The end.
My most used streaming platform is… Netflix. It’s got all the good cooking shows. I watched the Robbie Williams documentary the other night, that was brilliant. I love watching documentaries. I’ve got Netflix, Disney Plus, Neon, Apple TV and TVNZ. Disney Plus sucks, the only good thing they ever had on it was bloody Boba Fett.
My favourite TV project I’ve ever been involved in is… I did three seasons of the documentary series Songs From the Inside with Whakaata Māori. We went to prisons in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and taught our students, the prisoners, how to write music. Then we recorded it and released albums for them, and it was just incredible. Really eye-opening.
My advice for anyone who wants to be on TV is… If you believe in yourself, you can do anything. I’ve had a big long career and I just don’t give a fuck what people think about me. I just don’t care. Because I’m doing it my way, I’m having fun, and I’ve managed to find a balance between work and children and that’s all I care about now. Āmene.
The TV show that defined my lockdown is… I’m going to have to say that dumb Tiger King programme. Everyone’s would be Tiger King, right?
The TV show I wish I was involved in is… I’m loving After the Party. I personally think it’s the most brilliant writing and acting I’ve ever seen from a TV show made in New Zealand. It makes you feel really awkward and really angry, and the acting is just amazing. I actually interviewed Robyn Malcolm and asked her if she could write me a part for season two. She downright refused, which is fine because I can’t act anyway. Didn’t even want it.
My most watched TV show of all time is… Kath & Kim. It’s just brilliant. I just rewatch it all probably every year. I always wanted to be Sharon Strzelecki. I was so obsessed with her that when I lived in Melbourne, I actually bumped into Magda Szubanski at a bread shop and I followed her home. I did the same when I was living in New York – I bumped into Jennifer Connelly and I followed her into wherever she was going and I also followed Julia Roberts all the way to the gay village. When you’re a nobody overseas, no one notices you. It’s great. If I tried to follow John Campbell home, he would turn around and say “Anika, come on in, let’s listen to some Trinity Roots.”
My controversial TV opinion is… I don’t like breakfast television. It makes me anxious. I don’t want to hear bad news in the morning, I’d rather hear it at night.
A TV show I will never watch, no matter how many people say I should is… I refuse to watch The Sopranos. I don’t like mobsters, I don’t like the accents, I don’t like the spaghetti houses they go to. As soon as gangs are involved in a series, I’m out. I tried to watch Far North last night, but it had gangs, so I couldn’t do it. I’ve never seen The Wire either because it’s all police and gangs. I won’t even watch Brooklyn 99 because it’s about the police.
The last thing I watched on TV was… After the Party episode five. Da bomb.