“Who’s mowing the lawn?” – Judging the uso of Game of Bros with Aunty Henga, Week Two

Madeleine Chapman, her Aunty Henga and her Mum Pani assess the skills, builds, and tattoos in Game of Bros, Māori television’s reality quest for the ultimate Polynesian warrior.

Last week, Aunty Henga left Pani and Pani in Auckland and flew to Wellington to visit Pani, my mum. Which means you get not one, but two island experts weighing in on week two’s episode.

As the episode began, I asked them over the phone what they thought of the lengthy introduction. They sounded confused, because they were watching the wrong channel. Once we were able to establish that we were indeed watching the same show, the judging began.

With the main task in this episode involving waka ama and perhaps swimming, Henga and Pani were unsurprisingly concerned for the contestants’ safety. Multiple shots of the boys not knowing how to put on a life jacket did nothing to comfort them.

Aunty Henga summed up her concern in her classic way. “Only in the islands would they have a swimming challenge when not everyone is a good swimmer. Palagis would prep for that.” I waited a moment for her to elaborate, “… that’s shame.”

I was concerned too, but mainly because of this very sinister post on the Game of Bros Facebook page.


By the time the contestants entered the water, all three of us were preparing ourselves for the inevitable on-camera drowning and subsequent ‘In Memoriam’ credits sequence.

1) Louis 


Louis takes the top spot for providing the greatest line of the episode – perhaps season – when he announced “I was worried that we might captivated again” in reference to his team’s multiple canoe capsizes.

Henga: Oka, did he just say captivated?

Pani: Mmmhmm

[howling laughter]

Henga: Aw gummon, Tonga.

2) Thierry(‘s mum)


In a contest to find the ultimate island warrior, the most impressive person so far has been Thierry’s mum. Known as the “Queen of the Ocean” in Samoa, Thierry’s mum is the first woman in history to captain a fautasi boat (think dragon-boating boat). Henga and Pani were impressed, though not surprised, that a Samoan mum was outdoing all the guys. It happens all the time.

3) Iosefa 


Iosefa celebrated his team’s second place finish by recreating the infamous bum grab from the Australian cricket team. While this was happening, Aunty Henga was distracted by something far more pressing. “Who’s mowing the lawn?” she asked, “is that the last challenge?”

4) Selwyn


Selwyn almost reached the top spot for having a question in the brain challenge be about him, but then he admitted to not knowing that Piri was Niuean as well as Māori. In Selwyn’s defense, Aunty Henga did admit, “sometimes we do all just look the same.”

5) Jordan


Jordan tried to take the captain’s seat in the canoe but couldn’t fit, so had to swap with Louis amidst cackling from Pani and a cry of “lose some weight, man!” from Henga. Then he got Thierry’s name wrong which goes against any and all bro codes.

6) James


James had a lot of screen time this week but still trails behind the others due to being a sad guy and narking on Zeph. James and Ramon both showed off their arm muscles by throwing Zeph far, far under the bus and off the island. They clearly forgot the number one island rule: If you nark on one of your siblings, everyone gets a hiding, including you.

DISQUALIFIED: Michael and Ramon  


The introduction of the arbitrary Ludus Magnus clause during the premiere sees Michael and Ramon both disqualified this week. Something tells me these two might not see an official ranking for the rest of the show.

Pani and Pani’s decision to let the losing team vote to eliminate one of their own caused a curious disagreement between Aunty Henga and Mum Pani. Aunty Henga is a strong advocate for sticking together no matter what. When I asked her if she would have thrown a team member under the bus like James and Ramon did, she replied, “It’s hard to throw somebody…where am I throwing?” I reworded the question and got a clearer answer. “I would have said I can go home,” she said, “always nominate yourself.”

Mum Pani, apparently not listening to anything we were saying, chimed in. “Me too. No matter how bad you are, you should never nominate yourself.”


As the credits rolled, Henga became pensive and remarked, “They’re not really brothers because they sent someone home. This is not really the game of bros. When it comes to elimination the bro goes out the window.”

Some deep thoughts from Aunty Henga.

I asked Mum if she had any last thoughts.

She said no.

Game of Bros airs on Māori TV, Thursdays at 8.00pm

This content, like all television coverage we do at The Spinoff, is brought to you thanks to the excellent folk at Lightbox. Do us and yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service.

The Spinoff is made possible by the generous support of the following organisations.
Please help us by supporting them.