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TV

Tom McRae and Laura Tupou’s happy holiday

The Newshub stars have great expectations for the big day

By Florence Hartigan
Twelve months ago, Laura Tupou had never even read an autocue, let alone presented the news. Now the former Newshub reporter, who is due to give birth to her second daughter any day now, will be coming back from maternity leave to a brand-new gig – joining Tom McRae in presenting the 6pm weekend bulletins on Three.
"When I was offered the position, I was absolutely stoked," smiles Laura, 32, who's set to replace Melissa Chan-Green when she starts on the revamped morning show AM. "I'm really honoured and humbled I was even considered for the role, let alone that I got it!
"I've learned so much from Tom and Mel, and I've always loved their on-screen chemistry. I can't believe I'm going to be in the same timeslot. This time last year, a job like this wasn't even on my radar. I didn't think I'd get the chance for something like this so soon in my career."
However, Laura's partner Andrew Patterson has some mixed feelings about the opportunity. "Mel and Tom are his favourite newsreader pair, so it's bittersweet for him!" jokes Laura, who was covering presenter Kanoa Lloyd's maternity leave on The Project until recently. "But I get on really well with Tom and Mel's messaged me to say, 'You've got one of the best jobs in the world,' so I'm really looking forward to working with the weekend crew."
As for Tom, 38, he feels a little misty-eyed about losing his co-host of six years, but he tells us, "AM is such a great opportunity for her and she'll be absolutely brilliant – and Laura and I have worked really closely as news reporters for years, so I know her well.
"My first impression of her was that she's a really lovely, generous human being and the more you get to know her, it's exactly who she is – warm, open and engaging. I couldn't be happier that we're going to get to hang out every Saturday and Sunday."
But before the new weekend dream team can take the news for a spin together, Laura has a little something to take care of – becoming a mum to baby girl number two!
Tom and wife Laura with kids Leo and Ruby
"I get told it's easier having two – well, it doesn't get exponentially harder!" laughs the Tongan-Kiwi star, whose daughter Amalia turned two in September. "I know the first year will be testing with feeding and a lack of sleep, but because I'm from a big family, I've always wanted Amalia to have at least one sibling. I know how special those relationships are. I'm really excited for her and that's what will get me through."
Christmas usually means a big family get-together for Laura, who has five brothers and sisters, but this year will be different. "This is the first time that we haven't all been together because of COVID," explains Laura. "Half of my siblings live in Australia, so they can't travel over.
"Usually, we get together at my parents' place or hire out a beach house and spend all day together, waiting until after a hot lunch to open our presents. All the dishes have to be done first, so it's always a tense moment for the kids!"
While Amalia might be too young to understand what the fuss is about, Laura smiles, "She'll love the fact she gets to open presents – and we'll have a new baby. One of my sisters is coming up from Christchurch to help with childcare, so it'll be very low- key. We'll have a nice meal and a cheese platter, and I'll have a wine, which I can't wait for!"
Meanwhile, despite all the new arrivals at Three, Tom and his wife Rachel aren't tempted to add to their brood. "Two and through – that's the motto I hope to live by," laughs the presenter, who's a dad to Leo and Ruby. "They're delightful, but obviously not all the time because they're five and three!
"What we found during lockdown is that they're actually great mates and we don't want to ruin that by throwing a third one in the mix. Also, they already gang up on us, so we don't need to add more ammunition."
Because of their two rascals, Christmas with the McRaes involves some subterfuge, says Tom. "We have to hide all the presents at a different house because our kids just go searching for them in cupboards, even if they're wrapped. As young boys, my brothers and I would do exactly the same, so it's definitely karma!"
While Tom is looking forward to an "old-school Kiwi beach holiday" over summer, Laura is excitedly anticipating her first year as a mum-of-two and a 6pm news presenter.
"It'll be nice to have some quality time with the family and then start my new job," she smiles. "I'm going to say this for the umpteenth time, but I still can't believe I have it."
Laura and Andrew with daughter Amalia
Meanwhile, despite all the new arrivals at Three, Tom and his wife Rachel aren't tempted to add to their brood. "Two and through – that's the motto I hope to live by," laughs the presenter, who's a dad to Leo and Ruby. "They're delightful, but obviously not all the time because they're five and three!
"What we found during lockdown is that they're actually great mates and we don't want to ruin that by throwing a third one in the mix. Also, they already gang up on us, so we don't need to add more ammunition."
Because of their two rascals, Christmas with the McRaes involves some subterfuge, says Tom. "We have to hide all the presents at a different house because our kids just go searching for them in cupboards, even if they're wrapped. As young boys, my brothers and I would do exactly the same, so it's definitely karma!"
While Tom is looking forward to an "old-school Kiwi beach holiday" over summer, Laura is excitedly anticipating her first year as a mum-of-two and a 6pm news presenter.
"It'll be nice to have some quality time with the family and then start my new job," she smiles. "I'm going to say this for the umpteenth time, but I still can't believe I have it."

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