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Photos: TVNZ / Design: Archi Banal
Photos: TVNZ / Design: Archi Banal

Pop CultureSeptember 20, 2023

Celebrity Treasure Island power rankings, week one: Is this the fanciest season yet?

Photos: TVNZ / Design: Archi Banal
Photos: TVNZ / Design: Archi Banal

Aaaand we’re back. Tara Ward recaps the first week of hijinks in Te Waipounamu.

Welcome back to the eternal ray of sunshine that is Celebrity Treasure Island: Te Waipounamu, which appears to be the flashest season of the reality series we’ve ever seen. This week, 18 celebrity castaways flew into camp in actual helicopters and dined out on actual blue cod, and rested their famous heads in camps with real decking, fancy conversation pits and million dollar views. Those poor celebs! Light your gas stove and send thoughts and prayers, they’re doing it tough this year. 

But the helicopter rides and plentiful food weren’t the only surprises of week one. This season, the Captain’s Challenge has been sent out to sea and replaced with something called “The Captain’s Coup”, a challenge that is exactly the same as the Captain’s Challenge except it has some kind of rule change that I neither understand nor care about. Coups aside, this was a cracker of a first week, so chuck on your upside-down goggles and let’s stumble into the rankings. 

ELIMINATED: Grant Lobban

Nobody wants to go home on day two, but the ex-Shortland Street star took one for the team and was the first to be eliminated after working through the awkward moment where his captain forgot his name. Much like Damo from IT, Grant was gone too soon. 

ELIMINATED: Megan Alatini

Being eliminated in a wobbly-bobbly buildy-wildy challenge is definitely not what I’d call true bliss. Having already won $5000 in the charity challenge, Megan’s dream of winning CTI came crashing down quicker than this wacky tower. A tragedy on all counts. 

16. Blair Strang

Has Blair found the poo cave yet? Let’s hope so. 

15. Jordan Vandermade

Is Vandermade the Vander-villain alluded to in the CTI supertease? Seems likely, after the Kārearea captain deliberately doused other players with buckets of water to put them off their game. It was a ruthless move so early in the competition, and also quite weird, given it was already raining and everyone was already wet. Still, onwards and upwards, right? Right?!

14. Mary Lambie

Mary is tipped to be both this season’s rice expert and New Zealand’s next poet laureate, after she made this lyrical reflection on the pressures of elimination. If it was 1998, I would write this poem on a crisp white sheet of A4 paper and fax it to Good Morning. 


Like waiting 
for the dentist 
who doesn’t have any 

Have a laugh
sing a song
rooting for you
rooting for whoever

That poor bastard is 
up there.

13. Nick Afoa

Nothing to see here, just the star of the Lion King musical having a lovely time. Hakuna matata, one and all.

12. James Mustapic

James lived both his best and worst lives this week. “I’d rather be here than Gloriavale,” he admitted on arrival, before going rabbit hunting with Tāme Iti (“yummo!”), eating some horrible-tasting berries and gingerly climbing over a high beam during a challenge (“shit a brick!”). This is extremely relatable for those of us who have reluctantly set foot in “the outdoors”, but I also hope James opens an Abandonment Issues special investigation into why Queen Mary was the only one forced to wear a trench coat during the opening credits?! 

11. Miriama Smith

Look, it’s not CTI if you don’t have a celebrity yoga expert taking their team through some heavy breathing and downward dogs every morning. Bravo.

10. Matt Gibb

Matt Gibb may have sucked at guessing whether Matilda Green had a kumara in her box, but he has to be the most upbeat CTI player of all time. Even when it was pissing down with rain and blood was gushing out of his open wounds, Matt Gibb had only words of encouragement for his teammates. Great job, Matt! May we forever be a knobbly kumara in your big box of positivity.

9. Laura Daniel

A quiet but solid week from Laura, who stayed calm under pressure and supported her teammates, and then waded into a lake because Tāme Iti suggested it. She also donned the same pink outfit Bubbah wore this season on Taskmaster, which is a sign from the CTI gods that good things are to come.

8. Steve Price

The Price is right, come on down. This week the former Warrior held onto some big ropes to help win a team face-off challenge, but the biggest unanswered question relates to his hoodie. Is this a tribute to The Baby Sitter’s Club, aka the greatest book series of all time? Seems likely.

7. Courtney Dawson

Someone who brings an astonishing EIGHT hats on a celebrity camping trip deserves to rank highly, particularly if they include this fetching lime green number with a wide brim and jazzy fringe. What more do you need, Aotearoa?

6. Eli Matthewson

Eli came into this game with a plan, but he’s trying not to let anyone know he has a plan. Was part of his plan to pick up six pieces of raw pasta using only a single string of dried spaghetti? Our experts say: yes.

5. Jazz Thornton

A dramatic week from Jazz, who had an alarming medical event during the water challenge but also survived elimination, pulled a rope really, really fast and made an alliance with Courtney and Eli. We didn’t see her do any TikToks, though? Seems suspicious. 

4. Mel Homer

Mel was so powerful that she broke a farm gate, and so skilled at balancing that she survived an elimination challenge. You never saw this sort of hectic shit on The Cafe, which is a shame for us all.

3. Turia Schmidt-Peke 

Turia is proving to be a dream narrator for CTI. She warned us she says “out the gate” things, has no clue about any of the CTI rules, and wondered if her pre-game prep should have included “birthing a child” like Matilda Green. She also hoped that Taika and Jacinda would be on the other team? Same. 

2. Tāme Iti

“People will be jumping out of their La-Z-Boys watching him,” Miriama Smith prophesied about Tāme Iti this week, and this might just be the greatest piece of casting this show has ever seen. Tāme is full of composure, haka, wisdom and humour, and he’s bringing te reo Māori and te ao Māori into a New Zealand mainstream reality show in ways we’ve never seen before. No other player could inspire their teammates to cry happy tears simply by hoiking a sandbag into a net to win a challenge, and in the words of the 71-year-old himself: “it doesn’t really matter what age you are, eh?”

1. Matilda Green

“She’s won too much shit already, I’m fuming and ready to take her out,” James Mustapic said of Matootles, who had an absolute stonker of a week. She won the Tohorā captaincy by seemingly floating on air, scored the captain’s coup with some cunning kumara trickery, and pulled every string for the eliminations. Imagine if she’d had to pull this sort of incredible shit to win The Bachelor NZ? A true powerhouse. 

Celebrity Treasure Island: Te Waipounamu is on TVNZ2 at 7.30pm every Monday to Wednesday, and streams on TVNZ+. For weekly recaps, get amongst The Real Pod Extra on Substack.

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