One Question Quiz
Image: Getty Images. Additional fedora Bunnings design by Tina Tiller
Image: Getty Images. Additional fedora Bunnings design by Tina Tiller

SocietyAugust 18, 2022

Please welcome Rita Ora, New Zealand’s new unruly tourist

Image: Getty Images. Additional fedora Bunnings design by Tina Tiller
Image: Getty Images. Additional fedora Bunnings design by Tina Tiller

A visitor to New Zealand hasn’t generated this many headlines in years. Finally, nature is healing. 

It has been over three years since the unruly tourists ran rampant around Aotearoa, stealing petrol station Christmas trees, throwing toast on the ground, walking through drive-throughs and pouring chips on beach blankets. It was a dark time, it was a thrilling time, some may argue it was the last great time before everything went to shit. Now the unruly tourists are merely a postponed opera idea, wafting into memory whenever a Bunnings hat blows past in the breeze. 

In the horrible years that have passed, we have waited through lockdowns and border closures for the next headline-grabbing tourists to unite us all once more. We’ve needed someone with star power, pizzazz and talkability to bring us all together to obsess over their every move. There were murmurings of it when Gordon Ramsay haphazardly rode a Lime and Benedict Cumberbatch stank out Southland, but nothing came close to the media chaos of summer 2019.

That is, until now. 

We should have known there was something afoot when Friends star Lisa Kudrow was spotted on Cuba Street over the weekend. As it turns out, she was merely the opening act for the headliner to come: the arrival of Rita Ora and alleged new husband and confirmed filmmaker Taika Waititi to the streets of Wellington. The giant celebrity alert beacon went off in every newsroom, and journalists got to work finding out where this famous tourist was eating, sleeping and walking. 

Here at The Spinoff, we like to think we have a secret Wellington weapon that gives us an advantage over the competition. His name is Tree and he is a tree that stands on Cuba Street, an evergreen witness to the ebbs and flows of the city. If there was ever a sentient shrub to spot a celebrity in Wellington, Tree was it. “I have not seen either of those celebrities this time,” he told The Spinoff forlornly over text. “But occasionally I do see Jemaine Clement about town.” 

The Tree has spotted Jemaine Clement “about town”. (Image: Tina Tiller)

No offence to either Tree or the Emmy and Grammy Award-winner, but who hasn’t seen Jemaine Clement about town? Conchord sightings in Wellington are a dime a dozen. But Rita Ora? Living breathing pop star whose film credits include Detective Pikachu, Fifty Shades Freed and Fast & Furious 6? Our camouflaged source had let us down, so there was only one other respectable journalistic option left: ripping the work of other media outlets and making it our own.  

It appears Ora has only been in the country for three days, but already there have been four hardhitting investigations published detailing her visit. And what those stories reveal is, frankly, shocking. Just as Stephen Colbert arrived here and immediately started committing heinous crimes, Ora appears to have embarked on a tour of chaos, a tour of rebellion, a tour of… unruliness. So, could Rita Ora be our new unruly celebrity tourist? Let us assess five key pieces of evidence.

1. “Smoking thin ciggies” 

The NZ Herald reported yesterday morning that Ora was spotted at Lyall Bay cafe smoking what one witness breathlessly described as “those tiny thin ciggies”. Seems like pretty unruly behaviour to exhibit in a country that is exactly three years, four months and 13 days away from being entirely, completely, irrevocably smokefree, no? 

2. “Asking other customers for a lighter” 

Interestingly, the same article didn’t include whether or not she gave the lighter back to the humble Kiwi customer. Sure, the witness also said she was “lovely” but I would be trying to be lovely too if I was an elite pop star looking to nick a free lighter for my tiny thin ciggies. Unruly. 

Waititi demonstrating the madness induced by a “late lunch”. (Image: Instagram)

3. “Ate a late lunch” 

Having a late lunch instead of a regular lunch? Unruly. (As an aside, it seems like that same day, either before or after the late lunch, Waititi (and presumably Ora) were introduced to James Cameron??? by Jemaine Clement (see what I mean???) and photographed by Jon Landau??? Wellington is honestly crazy. Where’s that goddamn Tree when you need him!!!

4. “Crossing the road” 

The same Stuff report includes the detail that the pair were, and I quote, spotted “crossing the road” on Ghuznee Street. Given that they were then seen dining at Egmont Street eatery for the aforementioned late lunch, it is safe to assume that they walked the 450m distance (or crawled, depending on late lunch starvation levels). 

The Ora-Waititi trail. (Image: Google Maps)

Based on our Google Maps sleuthing, there is only one major road to cross on this journey, dotted with four controlled pedestrian crossings. All I’m saying is, if Waititi and Ora failed to use these crossings and instead crossed within 20 metres of one, they have committed the unruly crime of jaywalking and therefore may be on the hook for a $35 fine. Unruly. 

5.  “Ordered a vegan meal”

Being a celebrity in Wellies and ordering a vegan meal instead of a whole chocolate cake like Bruce Bogtrotter? Unruly. Get out of here.

Update: This article has been amended to include the detail that the unruly tourist opera has merely been postponed, rather than cancelled. The Spinoff apologises for the error and will see you at the opera.  

Keep going!