To celebrate 10 years since the start of New Zealand’s Next Top Model, our reality TV podcast The Real Pod is going to recap it week by week. Here are 10 of the most incredible revelations from the very first episode.
1) Colin Mathura-Jeffree was an emo kid
This was the moment we met New Zealand’s greatest-ever celebrity. He owns every scene, holds nothing back, is somehow totally comfortable saying that a young woman “hobbles like a cripple”. With the shock and awe of meeting the dude, we all missed signs which are now blaring: Colin was an emo kid. The swept aside fringe. The eye makeup. The militaristic fashion. The Pete Wentz-style insult olympics wordplay (“fivehead” “Dita Von Teese? Dita Von Terror”). Why isn’t he on our TV now? Did he curse MediaWorks? Someone fix this calamitous mistake. / Duncan Greive
2) The Havaianas integration is iconic
Honestly, without doing a lick of research I am going to call this the most successful and savage piece of product integration ever to be seen on local reality television. To find out whether or not they are making it through to the next stage of the competition, the girls were forced to scramble over a humble stand of Havaianas (hello 2009!) to find the pair with their name on them. Such a crushing image to see one group triumphantly cradling some gaudy jandals, while another group fall to their knees in sorrow, jandal-less and heartbroken. Alison’s beachside pantry on Survivor NZ could never. / Alex Casey
3) This is peak big money TV3
This show, which aired at the height of the GFC, looks like it cost about a third of NZ’s GDP. Who shoots in Queenstown? Starts with a cast of 33? Has at least eight set pieces in a single episode? It’s jarring and incredibly fun to watch TV made the way it should be – with jetboats and gondola rides and dozens of kids staying at the Heritage. Contrast it with MAFS NZ, where every location is either the Swiss-Belsuites apartments or the neighbouring park, and nothing ever happens on camera. No wonder MediaWorks went bankrupt a few years later. But if bankruptcy is the price you pay for TV this good, it’s worth it. We’ll never know this opulence again. / DG
4) The non-couture clothes are so good
Oh my god, this episode is a truly phenomenal time capsule for casual Kiwi gal fashion in 2009. The Peter Pan collars. The Ke$ha nose rings, the blunt heavy fringes and the low-rise jeans. So many superfluous scarves in what seems like the middle of summer! How I pine for 2009! One model gets praised for her fashion-forward look (sheer pantyhose socks under strappy kitten heels), which she brushes aside as swiftly as an end of the noughties side fringe. Wrap me in a tiny denim waistcoat, straighten my hair to death and take me back, back to 2009. / AC
5) The first shots in the all-time great Hosanna – Teryl-Leigh beef
Hosanna is extremely into this competition, driving four hours from Gisborne to Tauranga just to audition. That doesn’t impress Teryl-Leigh much. The normally sweet and sad-eyed mum just cannot handle Hosanna, and lets her know that others had long journeys too (just not her, via being from Auckland). Hosanna is hyper competitive, boasting about her dedication to walking (“I practise it when I’m lying on my bed”) and so excited about being picked that she stumbles down the steps. Teryl-Leigh has never been happier than right then, and from that moment on one of the great NZ reality rivalries is striding down the runway. / DG
6) Laura eats a chili in her audition
Scoville chic and we adore to see it. / AC
6) The swimsuit audition is… a crazy thing
What I didn’t realise at the time, watching it as a teenager myself, is just how young some of these women are. Christobelle has only just turned 16 when Sara Tetro says “go and put your swimsuit on, I’m dying to see it.” It! Another 16 year-old, Rhiannon from Blehnheim, who is understandably extremely uncomfortable to be prancing around a Langham boardroom in her smalls, gets the Tetro treatment too. After saying she prefers to wear shorts, Tetro tells her to go home and throw her shorts out! Is that good advice? I don’t know. All I know is that a panel of grown adults critiquing a teenager’s bikini body has NOT aged well AT ALL. / AC
7) Tori’s incredible cameo
She appears walking out to see the judges, and already Chris Sisarich knows he’s in trouble. “Save me”, he yelps – from himself or from her, we never find out. Tori from Hamilton lasts until the first cull, cast to be cut, but absolutely owns every moment. When she’s first asked to put on a swimsuit, she talks about feeling shy, before a hard cut to a single leg high kicking, and an incredibly powerful walk to the judges. “You have a gift,” says Sara Tetro, “two gifts”, she says, gazing upon Tori’s breasts. “It is hard to contain these,” she admits. Most of her screen time is spent on her “breasticles”, with a level of lasciviousness you’d only plausibly get license to do on House of Drag in 2019. She lasts a whole two minutes, but has more star power than almost anyone on current reality TV. / DG
9) The phones are funny and good
Things were so much better when phones had a weird slide-up screen, weren’t they? Good times. / AC
10) We’re watching it all again on the #realpod
Ever since we started The Real Pod, The Spinoff’s podcast dedicated to NZ reality TV, we’ve reminisced about the glory of New Zealand’s Next Top Model. In honour of the 10th anniversary of the first cycle of this absolute reality icon, we’re watching the whole thing, then recapping it every Friday. One episode a week, from now through Christmas. If you’re keen to come along for this extremely wild ride, subscribe here.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.