Celeb News

Pippa Wetzell and Haydn Jones' family connection

The Fair Go team is as close off screen as it is on it!

When you spend time around Pippa Wetzell and Hadyn Jones, there is a lot of laughter and banter. They’re not quite finishing each other’s sentences yet, but that can’t be far off.

“I’ve got a new man in my life,” says Pippa (39).

“And he’s amazing,” adds Hadyn (41), quick as a flash.

Pippa has always gotten on well with her TV “husbands” – most recently partnering Gordon Harcourt on Fair Go – but it’s his replacement on the hit TVNZ consumer show that really seems a match made in heaven.

Hadyn has only been co-hosting for a few weeks and already there is an obvious bond forming. In fact, at the Weekly’s photoshoot, he and Pippa are so busy chatting, they almost seem to forget that the camera is there.

“It’s been lovely, actually,” Pippa reveals. “Hadyn’s such a great fit for the programme and I feel very relaxed with him, and also quite safe. Working on a show like Fair Go, there are moments when it can be stressful, so it’s good when you’re presenting with someone else to know they’ve got your back. Still, it’s early days – things could turn to custard!”

“They could,” Hadyn agrees.

They’re only joking, of course. While Pippa’s latest screen sidekick is fairly new to presenting, he has plenty of TV experience behind him, having been a reporter on current affairs programmes such as Holmes, Close Up and 20/20 over the past decade.

“I’ve seen Pippa across the newsroom, but we’ve never worked together,” says Hadyn, who admits there have been challenges in his new role.

“When you’re co-presenting, you have to stand quite close together – like, awkwardly close – and my boss did say, ‘Hadyn, you’re not used to having an on-screen wife, are you?’ But already it feels a lot less awkward.”

Between takes, the pair have been enjoying the chance to get to know each other – and are finding they have a lot in common. Both have busy lives parenting three young children.

Hadyn and his wife Zanta have Marley (7), Archer (5) and Perry (3), while Pippa and her husband Torrin have Brodie (9), Cameron (7) and Taj (5).

“In the family dynamic, Pippa is two years ahead of me, so I can ask her all sorts of questions about the future,” tells Hadyn.

Curiously, Pippa’s previous co-host Gordon also has the exact same-sized family. So is there a rule that you have to have three kids to present the show?

“Yes, there is, in our contracts,” says Pippa, straight-faced.

“I really wanted to present it, but I only had two kids, so I had a talk with the wife,” adds Hadyn with a grin.

The true story goes more like this... When they decided to start having babies, he and Zanta moved from Auckland to New Plymouth to be closer to Zanta’s family.

“I thought that was going to affect my career, but I’ve made it work,” says Hadyn, who has been putting together Good Sorts for 1 News, a regular slot that celebrates outstanding members of the community. “I go on the road and shoot all the stories, then come back to edit them in a wee room off my garage that I call the Taranaki Bureau. It’s given me a new lease on life. I’ve really enjoyed the freedom.”

“Yes, there is, in our contracts,” says Pippa, straight-faced. “I really wanted to present it, but I only had two kids, so I had a talk with the wife,” adds Hadyn with a grin. The true story goes more like this... When they decided to start having babies, he and Zanta moved from Auckland to New Plymouth to be closer to Zanta’s family.

“I thought that was going to affect my career, but I’ve made it work,” says Hadyn, who has been putting together Good Sorts for 1 News, a regular slot that celebrates outstanding members of the community. “I go on the road and shoot all the stories, then come back to edit them in a wee room off my garage that I call the Taranaki Bureau. It’s given me a new lease on life. I’ve really enjoyed the freedom.”

Hadyn also loves living in New Plymouth.

“It’s a great community and so good for the kids. We’ve got the school at one end of the street and the beach at the other.”

Still, when he was approached to fill in as Pippa’s co-host on Fair Go, it was too good an opportunity to turn down, so Hadyn started commuting back to Auckland. And now he’s landed the role permanently, he’s going to be stacking up the frequent flyer points.

“I’m really delighted to be asked to have a go at this,” he says, though he’s mindful of the show’s impressive heritage.

Fair Go is like having hold of the TVNZ family china. You’ve got to look after it because it’s been there for decades and you don’t want to be the one to drop a vase.”

He’ll be combining Fair Go with the 1 News segment he’s so passionate about, even though it does make for an odd mix.

“It’s Good Sorts on a Sunday and not-so-good sorts on a Monday!” he quips.

As for Pippa, she admits it was a wrench to have her previous co-host leave the show this year.

“I was really sad to say goodbye to Gordon. We all felt like we were losing a really important part of the programme. But it’s also exciting to have new people on the team. And I had a text from Gordon the other day. He seems really busy and happy.”

Fair Go has had some talented presenters over the years, Philip Alpers and Weekly columnist Kevin Milne being perhaps the most legendary. Hadyn recalls how star-struck he was to find himself sitting near Kevin when he first arrived in the TVNZ newsroom, having watched him as a kid.

It may seem as if, in this era of ultra-fast communications and social media, the show isn’t needed as much as it was in the early years, but Hadyn and Pippa believe the opposite is true.

“It’s more necessary than ever,” reckons Pippa. “Despite it seeming like there are so many more ways to complain these days, often people have done everything possible and the problem still hasn't been resolved.”

The stories may have changed, with more complaints about online traders nowadays.

“But the challenges remain the same for people out there,” says Hadyn. “It’s all about the old values of fairness. People just trying to get what it says on the packet or the brochure.”

Hadyn has joined the team in time for one of the most popular Fair Go traditions – the annual Ad Awards. This year, there was a separate Kids’ Awards programme too, which focused on recycling.

“The challenge was for the kids to make something out of plastic bottles and then film an ad to promote the product,” explains Pippa. “A phenomenal amount of work went into the creations. Some made igloos and glasshouses, while some went the other way and did simple but clever things.”

Hadyn had the job of presenting the prize to the winning school.

“They hadn’t been able to afford the camera to shoot their ad and had to borrow it. So when I told them they’d won $15,000 worth of camera gear, the kids were crying and then I started crying, it was amazing.”

The children’s awards was the last show of the year and the new dynamic duo is looking forward to taking a well-earned break over summer. Hadyn is having a traditional Kiwi holiday.

“Just like the 1970s, I’m going to cram the whole family into the car and drive the length of the country. We’re heading to Naseby in Central Otago for a couple of weeks. It’s a small town with one shop, and we’ll be taking the bikes and swimming in the dam, and I’ll unplug the TV because it’s good to have a break from it.”

Pippa usually spends summer holidays at Whangamata, but this year her family has a bigger treat in store.

“Dad has been saving to take all the grandkids to Disneyland. There’ll be 15 of us getting on a plane to Los Angeles. The kids are beside themselves.”

The pair will need to be recharged and refreshed when they return to work – they have a big 2017 coming up. Fair Go turns 40 next year and some special things are being planned to celebrate the anniversary.

“We’ll make a whole year of it because why wouldn’t you?” says Pippa. “And actually, if you happen to be turning 40, like the show is, you should also celebrate throughout the year.”

Pippa is so fresh-faced, it is difficult to believe it but indeed she will be marking the same landmark birthday as Fair Go.

“I’m really excited about it,” she says. “My first-born was only a month old when I turned 30 so that was a bit of a write-off. I insisted on having a party at home and it was miserable. My thirties have been the decade of small children and I wouldn’t change that for the world, but I feel like we’re coming out of the fog now and moving into a new phase, so I’m definitely having a party at some stage.”

There is no age crisis happening here.

“I keep trying to give her grief about it, but she’s totally relaxed,” remarks Hadyn.

Perhaps Pippa is relaxed about getting a few wrinkles simply because she appreciates how fortunate she is at this stage in her life – with three healthy, happy kids and a job on one of TV’s more popular and enduring shows.

“Although it may become less popular now Hadyn’s joined the team,” she wisecracks. And yes, she’s most definitely joking.

Words: Nicky Pellegrino

read more from