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Treasure Island’s Te Kohe ‘meet my unicorn baby!’

The reality star and Brokenwood Mysteries actor introduces the newest and most chilled-out member of his whānau

Giving birth during one of Auckland’s most intense thunderstorms could be interpreted as an ominous sign for some new parents.

But snoozing gently as chaos reigns around him during Woman’s Day’s photoshoot, little Luca is the picture of chill – and his proud dad, former Shortland Street and Vegas actor Te Kohe Tuhaka, says his wee boy is always relaxed, despite the dramatic circumstances of his delivery in March.

“Honestly, he’s a unicorn baby,” marvels Te Kohe, 40. “I’m sure most parents say that about their babies, but he’s been amazing. He’s a very calming presence, despite all the thunder, lightning and flash floods. The trip to the hospital was interesting!

“But it was impressive to see all the lightning – from a Māori perspective, I saw it as a sign, so I put it in his name. His middle name is Te Uira, which means ‘the lightning’. It’s a good omen.

“In situations like storms, kids tell you who they are, what their temperament is like and a little of who they might be. So even though there was chaos happening all around him, you’ve got this little cool, calm, chill guy – I was like, ‘Woah! This guy has nerves of steel.'”

Little Luca joins Te Kohe and wife Larissa’s son Remy, four, as well as Te Kohe’s eldest son from a previous relationship, 15-year-old Phoenix.

“And that’s it – no more, eh?!” he laughs at Larissa, 37, who’s shaking her head frantically. “She’s the odd one out in this family – she’s the only female. I liked the idea of going for a rugby team, but that was quickly shut down!”

It’s a lot of organised chaos with so many boys, especially when Phoenix visits from his home in Gisborne. But while they’re all full-on, all three of his boys are completely different when it comes to their personalities, shares Te Kohe. “Phoenix is very gentle. He’s got a very gentle nature to him – he’s a deep thinker. Then there’s Remy, who’s just balls-to-the-wall, go-go-go all the time! He’s fire – rough as guts but very much a people person.

Te Kohe’s mini-mes (from left) Phoenix, Luca and Remy.

“It was one of the most beautiful moments when we introduced him to Luca. He was so sweet and there were tears… from me! And, of course, Luca is the chill one and very old man-ish!”

For Te Kohe – who graced Kiwi screens on The Dead Lands, played gang member Kingi Te Wake on Shortland Street and portrayed Jerome Kaino in All Blacks movie The Kick – no acting gig can ever compare to his favourite job of all.

On Shorty with Faye Smythe.

“Being a dad will be the greatest role I ever play,” he nods. “But I also have to be brutally honest and not take all the credit. My wife does an amazing job with all our three boys. I’m there to support her – we work really well as a team.

“We know we have to give them the best possible start in life and that’s our focus.

“I have to admit, though, it’s pretty buzzy to look at my three sons and see younger versions of me, especially with Phoenix. He’s got a teenage moustache at the moment, which makes me laugh – he looks very much like I did!”

Wife Larissa holds it all together.

While Te Kohe’s priority is his children, he’s also determined they’ll see their dad following his dreams and working in the field he’s passionate in – like taking on a role in the beloved local crime drama The Brokenwood Mysteries.

“You can’t just live your life – you need passion and something that keeps you motivated,” he enthuses. “On the flip side of that, in my industry, rejection is everywhere. I definitely don’t do this because it’s going to make me rich overnight. I’m passionate about storytelling.

“But I couldn’t do something like Brokenwood – which is an incredible fun, quirky show to be a part of – without Larissa. I’m away a lot and sometimes there are 16-hour days. We have great communication and it’s very much a team sport. It’s compromise and working together.”

Joining the cast of TVNZ 1’s Brokenwood came at a great time for Te Kohe, who was itching to get back in the swing of things after the disruption of the pandemic.

“My time on Brokenwood was amazing – I’ve been in the industry for about 22 years and it was awesome to work with my colleagues and friends again on such a Kiwi show.

“It came at a crucial time for a lot of us – right after the second big lockdown. It just felt so right to be doing that again and I could do it because I had so much support from my wife.”

Te Kohe and Larissa have been together 14 years and have been married for six, after meeting at work in Dunedin.

“She was a marketing manager at the theatre where I was doing a solo show,” explains Te Kohe. “We’ve been together ever since. We even survived renovating a house together during COVID, so I reckon we can take on anything!”

Speaking of challenges, the actor is in for the ride of his life on Celebrity Treasure Island, which kicks off next week.

“The best way I can play this game is to go as hard as I can and not hold back,” he admits. “The main reason I wanted to be part of Treasure Island was that I thought I could give it a good nudge. I just think I have the ability and the nous to be able to rough it.

Te Kohe’s CTI teammates (from left) Iyia Liu, Cassie Roma, Jesse Tuke, Courtenay Louise and Dylan Schmidt.

“It doesn’t matter who I’m going up against. I have a mindset that if I have no regrets and give my all, then if I am eliminated, that’s fine. But being away from my family will be the hardest thing I’ll have to go through.”

The Brokenwood Mysteries screens Sundays at 8.30pm on TVNZ 1. Celebrity Treasure Island screens Mon – Wed, 7.30pm on TVNZ 2.

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