/assets/images/nzheaderlogos/NZWD-logo.svg

Te Kohe & Larissa's perfect day

The Shorty star weds the love of his life down south

The small, picturesque Central Otago town of Alexandra was the only place The Dead Lands actor and former Shortland Street star Te Kohe Tuhaka and bride Larissa Dyke could ever imagine getting married.
It’s where Larissa, 31, grew up and where Gisborne-born Te Kohe, known as TK, and his 10-year-old son Phoenix feel truly at peace. It’s also where four years earlier, on an icy winter’s night, the actor, on crutches due to a fractured leg, crashed into the porch of his future in-laws, Viona and Trevor, while trying to make a suave first impression. Despite that dramatic entrance, TK, 34, and Phoenix have since been welcomed with open arms by Larissa’s family.
Exactly two years ago, TK proposed on bended knee at the premiere of acclaimed Maori action movie The Dead Lands. And now, on a cloudless spring day, resplendent in a red suit custom-made from Sweden, the star stands in front of 180 guests, ready to say “I do”.
“I’m really nervous, if you couldn’t already tell,” he announces, standing next to Phoenix, in a matching suit, and his six blue-clad groomsmen, including Game of Thrones actor Joe Naufahu, Westside star Xavier Horan and former Shorty star Jarod Rawiri.
By his own admission, it doesn’t take much for TK, who played gang member Kingi Te Wake on Shorty, to well up. He knows it, his bride knows it and so does his wise-cracking best man Clinton Houkamau, 34, who TK calls “my original wifey”. Some guests know it so well, they’re betting on how many times he’ll cry.
As Larissa – a vision in a stunning fitted gown by Spanish label Atelier Pronovias – makes her way towards him to the sound of John Legend’s “You and I” on the arm of dad Trevor, all the speechless groom can do is mumble, “Wow!”
TK later recalls, “I was gob-smacked. Nothing prepared me for the surprise. Woohoo! Yes, please!” But as he embraces Trevor, he breaks down. “That was when I lost it for the first time too,” Larissa says later. “Seeing my dad and TK hugging for so long was very emotional.”
The informal, fun-filled ceremony is also a poignant commitment to “Master Phoenix”, TK’s son from a previous relationship, with Larissa wiping away tears as she places three “happy beads” on his wrist – “for me, Dad and you”.
When it comes to their own vows, the tears become sobs. “I would follow you to the ends of the earth, over and over, as long as your hand is in mine,” says TK, his voice thick with emotion as he tells how seeing Larissa and Phoenix together “is the most satisfying thing as a parent, even if I don’t exist when this is happening”.
“Thank you for making me believe in love again,” he declares, finishing with their shared catchphrase, “No regrets. Lovers for life. Friends forever,” before placing a harlequin-cut diamond ring on her finger.
Paying tribute to “the love of my life”, Larissa pledges to “keep you grounded and humble so your head doesn’t get too big”. She adds, “I will never leave you, I will never stop loving you and there will never be a day when you will feel alone or have to face the world on your own.”
Ringbearer Phoenix hands over TK’s custom wedding band, made from sterling silver and designed to mimic the callouses on his hands, which he jokes is “a sign of the hard work that’s been and the hard work that’s to come”.
Sharing a passion for the arts and fitness, the couple fell in love at first sight in 2013 at the Fortune Theatre in Dunedin, where Larissa worked in marketing and communications, and TK –who also starred in Maori TV comedy Find Me a Maori Bride and Sione’s Wedding 2 – was performing in a one-man show.
Friends describe their romance as “a replay of West Side Story”, such was the instant chemistry between the handsome Maori actor and the athletic blonde of Dutch descent.
Indeed, the vintage bridal-party cars – 1970s Fords for the boys and ’50s Buicks and Chevrolets for the girls – add a touch of retro magic. As one cheeky guest jokes, “It’s Once Were Warriors meets Sweet Valley High!”
Vows and rings exchanged, the couple are pronounced “hubby and wifey, overlords of the world and superheroes of the universe”, and they celebrate with a passionate kiss before walking down the aisle in a glitter shower. Later, guests gather at the Alexandra Community Centre, which has been given an island-themed makeover.
The seating plan says it all, “Choose a seat, not a side. We’re all family when the knot is tied.” After a karakia by Phoenix, guests dine on a sumptuous hangi-inspired feast, while musical satire group the Maori Sidesteps, led by actor and MC Rob Mokaraka, entertain with witty songs and banter, drawing huge cheers as they accompany Phoenix in a rendition of Dave Dobbyn’s classic Kiwi love song “Slice of Heaven”. TK’s mum Rawinia then leads an emotional family haka that again leaves him fighting back tears.
Emotional speeches over, the newlyweds exuberantly twirl across the dance floor to Troy Kingi’s “True Love”. They’ll honeymoon in Hawaii before heading back to real life in Auckland. “I’m really looking forward to relaxing, kicking back and sunbathing,” says Larissa.
“The day’s been perfect,” muses TK as he gazes at his bride. “Getting married on the land where I grew up has been so special and I wouldn’t change a thing. I never really believed in marriage until I met Larissa, but the moment I met her, as cheesy as it sounds, everything changed!”

read more from

/assets/images/nzheaderlogos/NZWD-logo.svg