Not quite halfway into her 14-month Beautiful Trauma World Tour, Pink hit a wall. Rushed to hospital with excruciating pain in Sydney, the singer was diagnosed with a gastric virus and forced to postpone three concerts.
To make matters worse, her young daughter Willow was running a fever at the time, and her one-year-old son Jameson came down with hand, foot and mouth disease.
It was a heartbreaking time for the star, who suffers terribly from "mom guilt", confessing, "Going on tour with children is really tricky. It's the hardest thing I've ever done."
But the sickness had passed when Pink, her husband Carey Hart and their kids arrived for her seven shows in Aotearoa two weeks ago, a decade after her last visit.
"It's been way too long since I have been here – we're having so much fun," she told Dunedin concert-goers, adding on Instagram, "New Zealand is full of nice people."
While in our fair country, Pink enjoyed a low-key lunch with Willow, seven, in Otago café The Standard Kitchen. During her visit, the chatty star told owner Tom Macaulay, "I'm as happy as a clam – and clams are always smiling!"
As well she might be, the "What About Us" singer celebrated her 39th birthday while in Auckland - a birth date she shares with our third female Prime Minister, fellow hard-working mum Jacinda Ardern, 38.
It was a girl-power moment that held obvious appeal to Pink, who has long been an outspoken feminist. When it was mentioned that this month marks 125 years since NZ became the first country to give women the vote, she rightly pointed out that the fight is not over.
"There is still a long way to go for women, but progress has been made," she said.
"I would like to see equality worldwide, and access for all girls to education, voting rights, healthcare and control over their own bodies. I'm optimistic because women don't give up."
It's a message that sums up Pink's trademark strength and determination – both qualities the singer is keen to pass on to Willow, who has been teased by schoolyard bullies for looking "like a boy".
In her speech at last year's MTV Video Music Awards, Pink declared, "When people make fun of me, that's what they use – they say I'm too masculine, I have too many opinions or my body is too strong."
But the singer refuses to change "the way I present myself to the world", which she says is why she's "selling out arenas all over the world". Pink told her daughter, "Baby girl, we don't change. We take the gravel and the shell, and we make a pearl."
Despite her stellar music career, it's clear motherhood is Pink's top priority. But balancing parenting with work has brought anguish – something she no doubt discussed with her new friend Jacinda.
"Mom guilt really shades a lot of my decision-making," the singer confessed. "I want to be the best mom in the world, but I put way too much pressure on myself. We all do."
Bringing her two young children on tour is "exhausting", but Pink insists, "I want my kids to see what it looks like to have a mom who is a boss – who is following her passion and is working really hard towards her goals.
"My kids have this incredible, diverse carnival of people between my dancers, band, wardrobe and our chef Robbie, who taught Willow to cook when she was two. It's this gypsy family of travelling people and that part's beautiful."
Indeed, those who saw Pink and her family around the country say it was clear they were having a ball. Jo-Ann Paterson, who sold the singer some daffodils at the Otago Farmers Market, tells us, "She just sauntered around in a puffer jacket and beanie, like any other Dunedin mum. She was doting over her kids – she was very proud of them. Her son was getting a bit rough with the flowers. He was having a swordfight with the daffodils and she said, 'Don't boys just come out like that?!'"
Zara Samuel, who gifted the family some gourmet pies from her stall Who Ate All the Pies, adds, "No-one was bothering her and she was really enjoying herself. She stopped to watch some buskers and even gave her kids some money to put in the bucket. She wasn't overprotective of them. They had free run of the place."
Hopefully Pink's time in Aotearoa and the friendly Kiwis she met along the way lifted the family's spirits after weeks of illness.
As she told concertgoers at her second Auckland gig, "I've made a decision and I wish I had a trophy to give you guys. I was convinced that Canadians were the nicest people in the world, however, I've changed my mind – it's you guys. I'm in love with all of you. Just your whole country, your whole deal, so thanks for having us back. It's been too long."
The final word came after her last concert, where she posted a picture to Instagram of her celebrating the end of her tour, describing her time in New Zealand as "a truly magical journey."
"Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for showing all of us (including my dad and stepmom who flew from Philadelphia) the best time of our lives. Smitten."
It's fair to say much of New Zealand was equally as smitten with her.
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The Australian Women's WeeklyFeb 17, 2019