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Toni Street on life at 40

The beloved broadcaster opens up about her liberating new chapter and her fun-filled birthday bash.

By Sophie Neville
While many of us approach a milestone birthday with mixed emotions, Coast radio star Toni Street has welcomed her forties with open arms. There was certainly a lot to love about the past decade, but the broadcasting belle admits much of her thirties passed in a blur.
Juggling life at home with babies and toddlers, as well as a hugely successful television and radio career, plus the devastating diagnosis of autoimmune condition Churg-Strauss syndrome, saw her pushed to the limit at times.
"I sometimes think, 'Where did those years go?!' because looking back, that period was incredibly demanding – mentally and physically," says Toni, who turned 40 in September, but only celebrated last weekend with a fabulous '90s-themed bash.
Toni and hubby "The Hoff" Matt.
"That might be one reason why turning 40 felt exciting. I'm in a new chapter now. Life is still full and busy, but it's much more settled. I look back at when I was 30 and it was like I was on a treadmill, constantly looking ahead to the next thing and working out what the next goal was. I was in that phase of saying yes to everything in my career and doing my darndest to make it work with a very young family. I was happy but very stretched."
And it's certainly a relaxed Toni who welcomes Woman's Day into her home on Auckland's North Shore on a sunny Monday afternoon. It's a peaceful scene.
Her husband Matt France is working at the kitchen table, their children, Juliette, 11, Mackenzie, eight, and Lachie, five, are at school, and Toni has just returned from an F45 workout after hosting her Coast breakfast show.
It was her first time back at the gym since she suffered a painful sporting injury the day after her 40th birthday. For someone who'd never worried about getting older, she admits the timing of her torn calf muscle couldn't have been worse.
With TVNZ colleagues Wendy Petrie (left) and Renee Wright.
"I googled 'torn calf muscle' and the first thing I saw was that it's an injury most common in people around the age of 40," grimaces Toni. "I remember thinking, 'Oh, great! Is this when my body starts falling apart?' It was probably a good wake-up call that, as a middle-aged woman playing competitive sport, I need to take the time to do my stretches. I realise I can't be as hardcore as I was when I was 20."
Fortunately for Toni, though, after six weeks of rest, her calf recovered in time for her party, albeit in flat-heeled boots, rather than the sky-high sparkly Jimmy Choos she'd hoped to wear.
Decked out in a Britney Spears costume, Toni celebrated alongside 80 of her closest friends and family at The Officers Mess, a beautiful venue overlooking Narrow Neck Beach, near Toni's home.
Martin Guptill, Geoff and Pretty Woman Laura McGoldrick.
For the former Seven Sharp host, the party was everything she'd hoped for – a chance to celebrate with the people she loves most and full of fun. "I never wanted a super-sophisticated or glamorous party because I get to wear long sparkly dresses all the time for work events," she explains.
"For me, it was about everyone dressing up as fools, hitting the dance floor and having fun – and that's exactly what happened. It brought me so much joy to see how hard everyone went with their costumes. My mates know I love a good theme. We joked it was like they'd all just walked off a '90s film set."
A Disney date with their kids Lachie, Juliette and Mackenzie.
Toni's mum Wendy had the crowd in tears during her speech as she explained how her daughter kept her and Toni's dad Geoff going in their darkest moments after losing three children. Toni's twin Lance died at 18 months from cancer, her infant sister Tracey passed away not long after being born without kidneys and her beloved brother Stephen died aged 14 in a farm accident.
Who knew Barbies and crocs go together! MP Simon Watts and wife Shannon with Sarah and Sam Wallace.
"We have had a lot of tragedy, but it's Toni and her sister Kirsty who dragged Geoff and I through that, and I'll never forget what she did for us," declared Wendy. "She's a special, special person and our ray of light."
She also gave mention to Toni's best friend Sophie Braggins for bringing Lachie into the world via surrogacy, saying, "You gave us our little miracle and you really are an angel on Earth."
With Coast Mask mate Jason and "I am Kenough" Sam.
While family has always been at the centre of everything for Toni, she tells us her priorities have changed over the years. She's become better at saying no and putting firmer boundaries in place at work. She's now focused on getting the most fun and joy out of every day.
"I value having a good time rather than being caught up in the grind," she says. "And I love having things to look forward to. I've just organised a bunch of friends to go away for Waitangi weekend and I'm pulling together a graduation dance event for Juliette's school. I want to live really fully and pack it with fun, exciting things."
"I love how many people planned their costumes as a group, like the Spice Girls."
To say she and Matt, a sponsorship manager at Tātak Auckland Unlimited, are devoted to their children would be an understatement – the pair can barely contain their pride as they speak of Juliette, Mackenzie and Lachie's endeavours and achievements.
Juliette recently played a starring role in The Music Man In Concert at the Aotea Centre and is about to start rehearsals for her role as a young Gabriella in Disney's High School Musical, while Mackenzie is in the thick of rehearsals for The Sound Of Music, in which she's playing Marta Von Trapp.
With best friend and surrogate Sophie.
Little Lachie started school in August and is loving it.
While Toni has by no means shelved her own goals, life now is about enjoying her children.
"I genuinely get so much more joy from watching my kids do things than my own stuff. That's an interesting change as you get older because, for so much of your life, it's all about, 'What am I going to do for a job? What do I want to do with my life? What are my goals?' Then suddenly your focus is on them, not yourself, and that's liberating."
With parents Sister Wendy and Braveheart Geoff.
And as she reflects on turning 40, she can't help but feel grateful for Matt, the man she married in 2009. "Getting together with Matt is the best decision I've ever made – not bad considering I was 18! He's my absolute rock and together we're a team in everything we do. I'm really lucky to have a husband who will do anything for his kids. And I know he will. I mean, he is almost as passionate about theatre and netball as I am!"
"Creepiest costume went to Pennywise, my friend Carmelo."
Toni adores her Coast show too and says that, after three years together, she and her co-hosts Sam Wallace and Jason Reeves feel like family. But getting older hasn't dimmed her ambition and she's excited to see what's around the corner.
"For the first time in my life, I genuinely don't know what's next for me," says Toni, who presented coverage of both the Olympics and America's Cup for TVNZ in 2021. "I'm quite content just waiting
and seeing, but I definitely feel like I've still got a lot to give. Generally, throughout my career, the next thing has just come along at the right time, when it's meant to."
All smiles with sister Kirsty.
While her 4am alarm never gets any easier, she's grateful every day for being able to do most of her work while her children are asleep. Being home for them after school and able to take part in their lives while still having a career she loves is something she'll always be thankful for.
"The advice I always give to other parents is you're never going to get the time back and you're never going to regret making decisions that work better for your family. I genuinely love my life so
much and a huge part of that is because I can be the mum I want to be."

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