TV

Dai Henwood's family drama

The Kiwi comedian and his Lego Masters co-star get personal

We all have our Lego memories, from creative childhood builds to standing on sole-destroying blocks as an adult. For Dai Henwood, the bricks conjure up special moments with his actor dad Charles, who died two years ago.
"I've had Lego in the house for as long as I can remember," says the famous funnyman, who's a father to Charlie, nine, and Lucy, six. "Me, my mum and my dad would spend a lot of time together pottering around with them on the floor, then once I had kids, it was an excuse to immediately start buying them Lego.
"The grandparents, of course, spoiled my children with some enormous Lego sets. There was a Christmas where I spent an hour desperately trying to build a giant fire station so they could play with it. It's a point of connection for us that's not related to their devices."
And now with Lego Masters NZ premiering on TVNZ 2 this week, it's a way for Dai to bond with his kids like he did with Charles at their age. The 44-year-old explains, "I grew up with a dad who was a performer. I'd get up before school to watch his shows on VHS and I was so proud.
"I was always a bit nervous my kids might be embarrassed about their dad being on TV, but they're super-proud of me too, which is a real buzz – although I've always told them that TV is no different to any other job; it's just more people watching you do it."
Dai truly is a Lego fan, proudly showing Woman's Day the Fast & Furious car that he painstakingly put together long before Lego Masters came around.
"This is my most favourite and impressive build," he declares. "It's Vin Diesel's car – there's a full engine and a working steering wheel."
Having put so much time into the vehicle, you'd think Dai wouldn't want little hands touching it, but he insists, "Part of my spiritual outlook on life is that everything is temporary, even this beautiful car. If the kids had a play with it and bits fell off, well, at least they had fun. I can always build it again or use the bricks to make something even cooler."
It's that promise of a new build that keeps Dai's co-star, "Brickmaster" Robin Sather, excited after 17 years working with Lego.
"Everyone always asks, 'What was the favourite thing you built?' That's like asking who's my favourite child!" laughs the Canadian star, 56, who was the world's first full-time Lego-certified professional builder.
"The best part is always the building and when it's done, I'm already looking to the next one. Even when I was a kid, I'd show my parents what I made and then instantly take it apart to build the next thing."
Dai and Robin have built a strong rapport on set, chatting for hours behind the scenes. Robin tells, "The moment I met Dai, he had a wry, funny humour I knew would suit the show. I could tell we were going to have our own unique chemistry and have a lot of fun. He makes me laugh so hard."
Dai is looking forward to taking Robin to a rugby match and says the pair have bonded over their wheels. He tells, "Robin rides a Onewheel and I've always been a skateboarder, although now I'm in my forties, there are a lot less tricks. He came around to my place, and we were cruising up and down."
Robin and his wife Diane relocated to Auckland from Vancouver so he could film the show, and they love it so much, they're now touring the whole country. "We've absolutely fallen in love with the place, so we're staying for a while," tells Robin. "We won't be going home until mid-August."
Dai and Robin set the contestants a challenge.

Emily's big move

When Emily Laing shifted out of her Auckland home to move to Gore, it was like a divorce – she and her flatmate Liam Hagenson, her partner on Lego Masters NZ, had to divide up their vast brick collection and decide who got what.
But these custody arrangements were the product of romance rather than heartbreak. Executive assistant Emily, 28, moved from Pukekohe to Southland after finding love with Dunedin-based Elliot Mason, who she met on a dating app last July.
After COVID safety restrictions kept the lovebirds separate for four months, they decided they couldn't be apart any longer and – once Emily got a new gig in Gore and he found employment in Invercargill – they moved in together in the Deep South in December.
"Everything fell into place, we've both settled into our new jobs and we're excited to start our lives together in person," tells Emily, adding that she hasn't yet found a place for her 20 large boxes of Lego.
"Unfortunately, Lego isn't Elliot's thing, although we both love lawn bowls."
She adds that being on Lego Masters was a lot more challenging than moving from one end of the country to the other for love.
"The show taught me I'm a lot braver than I think. I'm quite shy, so putting myself out there was a really big deal."