Pop CultureOctober 16, 2021

All the best moments from Saturday’s live televised Vaxathon


We recapped every memorable moment from the country’s first (and hopefully last) live televised Vaxathon extravaganza. 

8.00pm Thank you very much for your vac-ci-nation

At last, the moment we’d all been waiting for: conga time. Vaxathon was over. Paddy Gower announced a total of 130,000 vaccinations, Ashley Bloomfield handed out bouquets of flowers and, after eight hours of live telly, DJ Shan finally played the iconic Telethon anthem ‘Thank You Very Much For Your Kind Donation’. The crew and presenters came together for a celebratory conga around the studio, just as Aotearoa had come together to help beat Covid-19.

And from us at The Spinoff, it is a big ol’ thank you very much for your Saturday evening on this here live blog. We’ll leave you with this:

7.50pm Farewells from across the motu

It’s time to say “see ya, see ya later” from our Vaxathon outposts across the motu Jason Gunn signed off from Ōtautahi, while holding up a ‘be kind’ sign. “In fact,” he said, “I think Fred Flintstone said it best when he said: ‘jab-a-dabba-doo’.”

In Ōtara, Neil Waka revealed that the vaccination centre is now out of doses. “We’ve appreciated everything everyone has done to keep everyone safe,” he said. From Papakura, Pio Terei ended on a simple message: “well done you people.”

7.45pm Pio Terei attempts to make himself a real fruit ice cream

Hopes and dreams collapsed before our very eyes when Pio Terei poured himself the finest ice cream any vaxathon has ever seen, only to have it drop off the cone at the worst possible moment. One moment Pio Terei was the proudest man in Aotearoa; the next, that ice cream had slopped off the cone and onto the bench below. It was brutal, it was tragic. His heart broke, and we watched it happen.  “I’m going back to my sausages,” Sad Pio said.

7.30pm Sonny Ngatai jumps on the tools

It wouldn’t be a Vaxathon without some behind-the-scenes action, so host Sonny Ngatai decided to get behind the camera and see how hard it really is to make live TV magic.

We’ll let you judge the results for yourselves…

“We scared them with the TikTok, don’t scare them with the close up,” said Gower.

7.10pm Jason Gunn is still going strong in Ōtautahi

Is there anyone in New Zealand more excited about Super Shot Saturday than old mate Jason Gunn? It’s just gone 7pm and he’s still full of beans. One just-jabbed Christchurch family is off to get fish and chips for tea, and Jason Gunn couldn’t be more thrilled for them. “Get me a donut! And a scoop of chips!” A big ol’ Jason Gunn thumbs up for everyone.

7.00pm Taika Waititi is back – with an outfit change

Even experienced broadcasters and big time celebrities love a bit of timezone chit chat. “What time is it there,” Julian Wilcox asked Taika Waititi, beaming live from LA. “Nearly eleven,” said Waititi. “Eleven at night then, eh bro?” said Wilcox. “Yeah,” said Waititi. 

With just under an hour left, the Māori vaccination rate for today is now at 21,523, inching closer to Waititi’s goal of 25,000. “If you’re Māori and you’re not afraid of a little jab in the arm… Get out there, get it done, let’s try and get to that 25,000,” he said. 

A reminder that earlier today, Waititi promised on the fly that he will choose one person to come on set with him when he is next filming in Aotearoa if the Māori vaccination rates top 25,000.

“I don’t even know how that’s going to work, but we’ll make it work,” he said. 

Taika Waititi wonders how he is going to make it work

The promises continued, with Waititi making another left field offer to reach out to the Rolling Stones to get them to perform in New Zealand. “I’ll send them an email, I’ll send them a letter… I’ll DM them.”

6.45pm The party continues in Papakura

Pio Terei and Mihingarangi Forbes have checked in from Papakura, where the Earth, Wind and Fire is still pumping and the sausages are still sizzling. “This place has been packed out all day,” said Terei. “We had six people in a waka, a car, and all of them were first time vaxxers, so I went and got them six sausages.”

“Haere mai, we are open till eight o’clock,” said Forbes, rocking a strong late entrant to today’s #livecrosslooks. “And there’s heaps of sausages left,” added Terei. 

6.30pm Dr Michael Baker gets his second dose

Down in Porirua’s Pacific Health Plus vaccination centre this evening, epidemiologist Dr Michael Baker received his second vaccination dose. “It was painless, I didn’t feel a thing,” he said in the aftermath, “I feel relieved that I have more antibodies in my body now.” I feel equally relieved that we now have confirmation that Baker’s deltoid is, in fact, strong. 

6.00pm Paddy “TikTok” Gower dances like nobody’s watching

“I’d like to apologise to the nation, but I’m doing this for the vax,” Gower said, fulfilling his promise of doing a TikTok dance and proving once and for all that the rhythm is going to get you. Meanwhile in Ōtara, RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under winner Kita Mean joined Jesse Mulligan in the vaccination queue, in what has to be the most stylish arrival of all of Super Saturday.

5.30pm Paddy “Shakespeare” Gower drops a poem

Paddy Gower is feeling so inspired by today’s events that poetry has begun to flow through him like a river. “There’s a famous poem, I don’t know who it’s by,” he told the nation, “but it goes like this: Give them a taste of Kiwi / give them a taste of Kiwi / show them we’re the best,” he recited, before coming back from a live cross with the timeless haiku “jab-awocky, jab-awiki, jabbawoo-wah-way”. Inspirational, indeed.

5.05pm Get ready for Karen O’Leary’s new TV sensation, Country Karender

Wellington Paranormal star Karen O’Leary dropped by Avalon Studios to reveal Karens around the world will soon be redeemed by her new, possibly made up on the spot, upcoming hit TV show called Country Karender.  She also sang an original song called ‘Get Your Vaccine’, an absolute banger even more catchy than the Country Calendar theme song itself.

5.00pm Mike McRoberts and Siouxsie Wiles at Auckland Airport

Mike McRoberts and Siouxsie Wiles were hanging out at Auckland Airport, celebrating this “history making” day of over 100,000 Covid-19 vaccinations. “What we really need more of is first doses,” Wiles said, and reminded viewers you’re still able to vaccinated in the coming days if you can’t go today. Sadly, McRoberts was not wearing his Masked Singer NZ Orange Roughy costume, but with three hours in Vaxathon to go, there is still time. Do it for the country, Mike.

4.45pm Just two great one-liners

Broadcaster Brodie Kane: “I’m 35 and single, I’d like to pash a good-looking man this summer.” 

Wheel Black Barney Koneferenisi: “Don’t be a bots, come down and get your shot.”

4.20pm Robyn Malcolm’s message for West Auckland

Robyn Malcolm has a message for the “party animals” of West Auckland who aren’t vaccinated yet. “The minute you do it, you can get back to the rum and Cokes straight away,” the Outrageous Fortune legend said. She is already fully-vaccinated, and said she had no side effects except “a really bad tequila hangover which I tried to blame on the vaxx.” 

4.00pm Hula challenges and Ryan Bridge vaxxed live

The carnival vibes continued as we crossed to Rotorua, where Alexis was teaching mayor Steve Chadwick how to do the hula. “I think the most important thing is making people feel at home,” one of the organisers said. “They see people they are familiar with, and when they come in we do things the Pasifika way.” 

Back in Auckland, The AM Show host Ryan Bridge was getting vaccinated live in first class of a Boeing 787. He thankfully remembered to wear a singlet under his shirt so he didn’t have do go full Stuart Nash, launching into the jab with the battle cry “let’s get Pfizered!”. 

3.45pm Suzy Cato, master of mise-en-scène

Something from slightly earlier: Suzy Cato said she wants us all to say “see-ya, see-ya later” to lockdown. Also, does Suzy Cato live in the Taskmaster house? Just asking the question.

3.40pm Gunn, gunge and gelato in Ōtautahi

Jason Gunn has been cavorting around a free gelato stand in Ōtautahi with the rest of the What Now crew. Current What Now host Joe said he was nervous because this is the first time he is getting a jab without his mum. “Joe! Joe! Joe!” Jason Gunn chanted, while jumping up and down. 

Gunn also had the best sign-off of the day so far: “back to you – wherever you are, whoever you are.” Back in the studio, Gunn’s appearance inspired some gunge chat. “I’ve never been gunged, but I do know a little bit about ganja,” said Gower.

3.20pm Paddy Gower vs Patty Tuipulotu

“We’re making things up as we go along,” said Paddy Gower, “I’m letting my brain kinda… move.” That brain then moved through an extremely funny interview with All Black Patrick (Patty) Tuipulotu, who is currently in MIQ. 

“I’m looking forward to getting outside and having a picnic with the family,” said Tuipulotu, who is encouraging Māori and Pasifika to get the jab today to “keep everyone safe to get back to doing what we do.” 

“I did it for my little one, my family, my teammates and everyone around me, its important that we do this if we want to get back to some kind of freedom in our lives.” he said. 

Paddy ends on a crucial question for Patty – who has the biggest deltoids in the All Blacks? In yet another bit of breaking news, it is allegedly Scott Barrett. Rest assured we will be keeping you updated on this developing deltoid story.

3.05pm Jacinda Ardern announces 100,000 target already met

Jacinda Ardern has announced that Aotearoa has just surpassed the target of reaching 100,000 doses today. “Lets go for 150” said Ardern, “go big or go home Paddy.” To mark the occasion, DJ Clarke Gayford jumped on the decks to perform one celebratory “wicky-wow” record scratch.

Ardern is yet to be convinced to get into the DJ booth, but we still have five hours to go. 

3.00pm Marlon Williams performs live from Eastgate mall food court


2.40pm The Casketeers, live from Porirua

Francis and Kaiora Tipene from The Casketeers have rocked up to the vaccination centre in Porirua with armfuls of donuts and mandarins. “We just showed up and they were throwing donuts at us,” said Kaiora, who revealed they are currently in the middle of filming their fifth season. 

On why vaccination is so important, Francis said he has seen the impacts of Covid-19 first hand. “Any death is sad, but when you die from Covid-19, it’s unnecessary,” he said. “We’ve seen it – it is sad, the effects it has on whānau.” 

Finally, they encouraged everyone to get vaccinated so we can return to our normal rituals. “Let’s get it done so we can gather and have birthdays and weddings and funerals and get back to Aotearoa as we know it,” Francis said. 

2.25pm Chris Hipkins can’t escape “spread your legs” 

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins visited the Vaxathon studio for what can only be described as a roasting, with hosts Sonny Ngatai and Anna Harcourt determined to know whether or not he has a favourite “spread your legs” meme. “I’ve tuned out of it now so I couldn’t really pass judgement on it,” said Hipkins.  

Unfortunately, you can’t quite tune out of live television, and these hosts weren’t done with “spread your legs” yet. Harcourt posited a challenge to Hipkins to do the splits in studio, before Paddy Gower wandered into the frame with a Covid-19 t-shirt for Hipkins, who was very much already wearing a Covid-19 t-shirt. 

“Bit of advice,” Gower said, interrupting his co-hosts. “That was quite good – keep it up with the ‘spread your legs’ stuff.”

2.10pm Lorde’s advice for the needle-phobic

I am the first person to admit that I find getting injections really icky, but ever since I was a kid I have treated myself by going to the bakery afterwards,” said Ella Yelich-O’Connor, aka Lorde. “Get yourself a tart, a cream bun, an apple turnover if you are feeling crazy. But please, please, get that jab.” 

2.05pm Jacinda Ardern and Taika Waititi talk fingernails

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern dropped by the Vaxathon studio to reveal the latest dose numbers and have a chat to Taika Waititi. As doses for Māori top 12,000 today, Waititi said they still “could be a lot better.” 

Should Māori vaccination rates surpass 25,000 today, Waititi said he will arrange for one lucky person to come and hang out with him on set the next time he is filming back in Aotearoa. The promise appeared to be entirely up on the spot, but “we’ll figure it out,” he said. 

If that is not incentive enough, Waititi also said that he will change out his palm tree nail art if Māori vaccination rates reach his 25,000 target. When Jacinda Ardern was asked about the state of her nails, the answer was quite different. “Dirt and hard work,” she said. “No palm trees here, my friend.”

2.00pm Rawiri Waititi does a TikTok

I get the feeling there’s going to be a lot more TikToks to come today, after Rawiri Waititi dropped a hot ‘Tok before dropping some even hotter advice to the vaccine-hesitant. “The message is: get out there, be a good tīpuna, be a good ancestor to the mokopuna you haven’t met yet,” he said.

“We’re not worried about conspiracies and stuff like that, our job is to get the people out there.”

1.40pm Hollie Smith has a LOT of lanyards

Singer Hollie Smith has popped into the Vaxathon with a video message about why she got fully-vaxxed. “I really want to get back to performing, I really want to get back to connecting to the community,” said Smith, whose album is being released next week. “I’m doing it for my industry,” she said. “So many people are on the brink of losing their livelihood.” 

In a final plea to the audience, Smith pulled out what can only be described as the hugest rat king of lanyards ever committed to the screen. “Please,” she said from beneath the pile “I really want to get back to doing shows.”

1.30pm Another strong entry for most stylish live cross

Miss Geena Sparkle has pulled out all the stops for her Vaxathon interview in this sequinned rainbow number. “We’ve been fighting a pandemic for 40 years now so we are no strangers to this,” she said of the rainbow community. When asked what she was looking forward to the most about returning to post-vaccination normality, Sparkle was frank about the number of men she wants to “rub her titties on.”

1.20pm Paddy Gower TikTok dance update

Gower appeared to be hard at work preparing for his TikTok debut before we went to an ad break. Please also note Silver Fern Maia Wilson in the background, told to step off the stage to prevent towering over her co-hosts.

1.10pm Most stylish live cross of the Vaxathon so far

Shout out to Miss Kihi and Harata Brown in Kaitaia for this sublime #livecrosslook

1.00pm League legend Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, live from Ōtara

Looks like a truly incredible time out in Ōtara with free ice-cream, free food, music pumping and league legend Roger Tuivasa-Sheck broadcasting live. 

“It’s really important,” Tuivasa-Sheck said of his decision to get vaccinated. “I have to make sure I can do my job and protect my family.” 

“If people are sitting on the fence right now, there’s nothing wrong it,” Tuivasa-Sheck said, encouraging people to get information from the South Seas website.

“Lets keep encouraging everyone to get vaccinated, lets create a safe community and lets see those levels drop,” he said. 

12.50pm Dr Ashley Bloomfield in the house

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield has graced the studio wearing a Super Saturday Vaxathon t-shirt. He said the vaccination efforts today have already been “fantastic” – particularly for Māori. “Ten thousand is more than we’ve had any other day for Māori, so it is great to see those numbers coming through,” he said.  

Bloomfield continued to encourage people across the country who haven’t been vaccinated yet to join the effort. The message is now “get vaccinated, save lives, be kind” he said. “We’ve done this before together and we can do it again, together.” In huge TikTok news, Bloomfield revealed he will be back in the studio later, and is not averse to a choreographed dance. ”I’m up for it,” he said. 

12.40pm Our first musical act!

My review so far is that the Vaxathon vibe is very cool and slick. Barely half an hour in and we’ve already been all around the country, from Tauranga to Cannons Creek (home to “do it for the east” tshirts), to the jab-a-seat dreamliner at Auckland airport. 

The Vaxathon has also has its first musical act, Maaka Fiso, who told the audience “if you feel it within yourself man, go get vaccinated.” In-house DJ Shan took Silver Fern Maia Wilson through the intricacies of mixing live on air. No further updates on Paddy Gower’s TikTok account.

12.25pm Taika Waititi beams into Vaxathon from LA

Taika Waititi has joined Vaxathon live from his “salubrious surroundings” in Los Angeles. “I’d love as many people to get vaxxed, so i can come home,” he told the studio, revealing he’s only been home for a five day stint since the pandemic began. “It makes sense,” he said. “We want people to be safe and get out there and continue our lives.” 

“Things feel pretty normal here [in LA] now, and it’s because most people are now vaccinated, so I’m really urging as much people as I can to get vaccinated.” Waititi said he misses New Zealand food, and might even check back in later to show himself cooking dinner. Rita Ora was nowhere to be seen. 

12.15pm Vaxathon kicks off with a hearty”Lessshhhgo” 

We’re live from the glorious Avalon Studios in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, home to many a memorable live television moment. “I know what you’re thinking,” Sonny Ngatai welcomed the audience from the beneath the bright shiny lights of the Vaxathon. “Who is this guy? I don’t know who I am either.” 

Things kicked off with an appropriately self-deprecating and shambolic start. Julian Wilcox introduced himself as “an old chunk of coal struggling to be a shining diamond”, while Re: content director Anna Harcourt told the camera she was “learning how to broadcast live as we speak.” 

Paddy Gower was absolutely on one, only five minutes into the broadcast. “I do have something special that I do want to say,” he told the studio, “LEEEESSSHGOOOO”. He’s going to start a TikTok account today, there’s a live mural being scribbled and What Now tele-op-inspired people on the phone to answer all your questions. Vaxathon is here, baby.

11.30am What to expect from the live Vaxathon today

Aotearoa, the moment is upon us: it is Super Saturday Vaxathon day. Between the hours of 12-8pm tonight, a truly impressive combination of TV channels and online streams will be covering this historic moment live from around the country, encouraging as many sleeves to be rolled up as possible and as many celebrities to join a conga line as current broadcasting standards will allow.

From 12pm we will be updating you here with all the wild, wonderful and weird moments. For now, here is what we know about the Vaxathon event:

  • The Super Saturday Vaxathon live broadcast was announced just four days ago, with prime minister Jacinda Ardern teasing that it will include prizes, experts and “some healthy competition” between the regions. “I think you can expect for those who have watched a Telethon before for there to be a bit of nostalgia,” she said.
  • It will be simulcast on both Three, TVNZ2, and Māori TV from 12pm, with digital streams available via ThreeNow, MĀORI+ and TVNZOnDemand, as well as Re: and Hahana.
  • Anchoring the event from the studio will be Julian Wilcox, Paddy Gower and Sonny Ngatai, who will cross to roaming reporters including Harata Brown, Rapaera Tawhai, Jesse Tuke & Michaela Blyde.
  • The celebrity line-up is huge: Taika Waititi, Suzy Cato, Francis and Kaiora Tipene, The All Blacks, Black Ferns, TJ Perenara, Hollie Smith, Lucy Lawless, Madeleine Sami, Toni Street, the Shortland Street cast, The Briscoes Lady and so much more.
  • It is unclear if the broadcast will bring back Telethon classics such as The Talking Tummies, but please check out this set of expert recommendations for Vaxathon success based on previous live television modelling.

See you back here at 12pm! Thank you very much for your vac-ci-nation!

Keep going!