Shavaughn’s new chapter ‘I feel very blessed’

The talented actress is ready to take on new roles

After a stint of living in Los Angeles for work, former Shortland Street star Shavaughn Ruakere couldn’t be happier to now be settled in Auckland with her partner Trevor Rooderkerk.

“We’ve been together a few years now and he’s definitely a keeper,” she says with a broad smile. “I’m pretty happy.”

Trevor has three children, who a besotted Shavaughn calls her “instant whānau”.

“I’ve always felt a strong affinity for kids,” she tells. “Maybe because I’m still kind of a big one at heart. I’m the youngest in my family. All of my siblings have kids. In my whānau, I used to always be the crazy aunty figure.

“I suppose I’ve always been a bit unconventional. I never made a big choice either way about wanting kids of my own or not. It’s just the way life has gone. It’s probably taken me quite a long time to understand that I’m part of my own family now, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel very blessed.”

The star is back living in Auckland with partner Trevor.

Now that’s she’s home for good, Shavaughn – who is of Taranaki and Te Āti Awa decent – has been learning te reo Māori, something her beloved dad took up too before he passed away a few years ago.

“It has felt really good to do this. But also really hard work!”

She’s been taking every opportunity to incorporate te reo into her life.

“There’s so many little ways we can help keep the language alive,” she tells. “We have a Māori word game called Tākaro we play with the kids. They love it! Sometimes I’ll just randomly yell out something like, ‘What’s the Māori word for tooth?’ and they’ll yell, ‘Niho!’ It’s pretty cute.”

She confesses that her journey with the language has been emotional. “One day over a Skype lesson, I had to leave and go have a big cry in the laundry because it brought up a whole lot of stuff about my Dad. It was a good cry. Dad would like seeing his kids giving te reo a crack.”

This new chapter of life has meant she’s also been able to indulge her love of animals, with the couple recently welcoming a white Swiss shepherd puppy named Māhina and a kitten called Malawi.

“We got them on the same day, so it’s been pretty full-on,” she says. “The kitten is fine – he’s worked it all out – but Māhina is still very much a work in progress. I still can’t believe how much puppies pee! But I’m so in love with them and they have been such great additions to our whānau. I think for kids to grow up with animals is one of the best gifts you can give them.”

Shavaughn might have appeared on some of this country’s most beloved family shows, including What Now and Dancing With The Stars, but her latest gig is something rather different – she’s hosting FBoy Island NZ, a new reality show whose controversial title sets the tone for something entirely new to our screens.

“With a name like FBoy Island, it’s definitely not a show that takes itself too seriously,” says Shavaughn. “It’s a light-hearted take on dating shows that often leans on comedy – something I was drawn to.”

The FBoy Island host reveals why she hasn’t always been so lucky in love.

It’s at this point that readers may well be wondering what exactly a “FBoy” is.

“Well, the F stands for f**k,” explains Shavaughn. “The show is based on a US format with the same name. I think an FBoy is what we’d call a player. In our show, we talked about them as a guy who is not ready to settle down yet.”

At 44, Shavaughn admits she’s come across her fair share of “F boys” in her time. “What heterosexual woman hasn’t?!” she exclaims.

She joined a couple of different dating apps when she was living in Los Angeles but admits they weren’t her cup of tea.

“I lasted maybe a couple of weeks,” she says with a laugh.

“I went on three dates. One with an American, one with an Englishman and one with an Aussie. I made the mistake of going on a hike to the Hollywood sign with the Aussie. The round trip took about two hours and by the time we’d reached the sign, I really wanted out of the date, but we still had to walk all the way back down. You live and learn!”

As well as FBoy Island, the talented actress has just finished a stint on My Life Is Murder with Lucy Lawless – “an incredible woman” – and she’s about to start filming Power Rangers again, where she plays Dr Lani Akana, the mum of blue ranger Ollie Akana. The role couldn’t be more different to her reality TV presenting gig, but it’s this variety that she thrives on. After 26 years in the industry, Shavaughn says she can’t imagine doing anything else.

With fellow warrior woman Lucy!

“I started on What Now when I was 18!” she says. “So it feels like I’ve been doing this forever. But I’m lucky because I still love it. I remember when I was really young and I was painfully shy, but as soon as I got the opportunity to perform, it felt amazing and I still get that feeling.”

Shavaughn also loves being a part of the Power Rangers universe. “The fans are great – very committed,” she giggles. “I’ve never seen myself in so many internet mash-ups! Blair Strang and I both play parents in the show, and like to laugh about being the old people on the set.”

Meanwhile, dealing with the uncertainty of when the next role might come along is something she’s gotten used to.

Cosying up to Ben Mitchell on Shortland Street.

“I’ve had huge periods of not knowing where the next job is going to come from and that has been stressful, especially in the times when I was single. But that’s what you sign up for in this business and it’s all part of it. I suppose, in some ways, I’m drawn to that part of it too. I’m not someone who always has to have a plan.”

Watch FBoy Island on TVNZ+.

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