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Shorty stars Acushla-Tara and Paul on their wedded bliss

After six months of wedded bliss, these acting talents are mixing business with pleasure
Pictures: Robert Trathen

They tied the knot in a joyous ceremony, surrounded by family and friends, and now Kiwi acting super-couple Acushla-Tara Kupe and Paul Waggott are celebrating their six-month anniversary by making a bold move.

“We were married on 15 October and exactly six months later, on 15 April, we settled on our very first home,” grins The Gone actress Acushla-Tara, 33, clearly still blown away by their good fortune. “It’s one of those incredible things you think will never happen, especially when you live a freelance life, but it’s happened.”

Shortland Street star Paul, 35, continues, “We have to keep reminding ourselves that we’ve spent our entire adult lives paying rent. Paying a mortgage should be no different. We’re also very pragmatic and will do whatever work comes our way. We’ve both had loads of other jobs over the years, including working in hospitality.”

“We’re quite frugal too. We’ll always find ways to make ends meet,” adds Acushla-Tara, who is of Ngāti Maniapoto descent.

However, the newlyweds probably won’t need to seek café work soon, as their careers are thriving. Since marrying, Acushla-Tara filmed the second season of The Gone, starring as detective Diana Huia in Te Aroha.

Meanwhile, British-born Paul has joined the Shorty cast full-time as bumbling pharmacist Thaddeus Fleiss. His podcast Sherlock & Co has been nominated for a prestigious award in the UK.

Paul as Shorty clown Thaddeus.

Since guest starring on New Zealand’s favourite soap last July, Paul has been having a bundle of fun in Ferndale.

“Thaddeus is the sort of person who can be socially inept, but his intentions are always good,” explains Paul, clearly very fond of his oddball character. “There’s also a vein of comedy running through everything he does, which gives the other characters opportunities to take a break from dealing with the heavy stuff.”

Acushla-Tara adds, “Thaddeus sometimes says what other characters can’t because it’s like he perceives the truth better than anyone else, which means he can be almost profound at times.”

With Richard Flood in The Gone.

Paul continues, “Shortland Street is a really lovely place to work. The cast, crew and the production team are so kind. Playing the clown is also so liberating because I get to frolic and have the best time.”

Acushla-Tara was delighted when she was offered an opportunity to join Paul on the TVNZ 2 show. “But Shortland Street is Paul’s thing. So when the part came up and I was asked to audition, I asked Paul if he would mind if I joined his work for a while,” the actress says.

Grinning, Paul chimes in, “And I said I would love it!”

Acushla-Tara has been cast as Bonnie, the long-lost daughter of Dr. Emmet Whitman, portrayed by Stephen Lovatt. She and Paul are determined to make the most of her fleeting time in Ferndale.

“We carpooled to the studio when our schedules allowed. When we had downtime, Paul and I would do cryptic crosswords together. Or we’d help each other learn lines,” tells Acushla-Tara, although she adds they didn’t have any scenes together.

Paul laughs, “I did have an idea that Thaddeus could walk past Acushla’s character and I’d be immediately enamoured with her, but sadly, that was not to be!”

Bonnie’s arrival this Wednesday promises drama on Shorty, with old secrets from Emmet’s past likely to resurface.

Acushla-Tara loved her time on Shorty with Paul. “We carpooled and we’d do cryptic crosswords together.”

Acushla-Tara spills, “Bonnie and her dad don’t have a good relationship because they have very different values and morals. As Bonnie got older, she was no longer able to accept how her dad spoke about her and her culture.

“She couldn’t brush it under the rug, which is why Bonnie chose to cut ties with him. She’d never have brought her daughter to Shortland Street if she knew Emmett was working there. There’s significant hurt, but Emmett doesn’t understand he’s the cause of it.”

Glowing with happiness at the way their lives are panning out, it’s clear marriage suits this dynamic duo.

“But nothing much has changed since we got hitched because we’d been together for over 10 years,” shares Acushla-Tara.

“We now have some cool photos,” says the stunning bride of her big day.

The wedding was more of a formality, to signify something we already knew. So when people ask what married life is like, our cookie-cutter answer is that it’s exactly the same as it was before. But we now have some cool photos and we had a great party. And I do enjoy using the terms husband and wife!”

Paul adds, “We’ll always have each other’s backs and be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. With the world as it is right now, with so much horror in the news, it’s all the more reason to hold close to the people you love and who fill your day with light. When you surround yourself with good people, you can get through anything.”

Acushla-Tara looks adoringly at Paul and says, “You can see why I married him.”

The happy couple returns to unpacking, ready to live happily ever after in their new home.

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