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Relationships

Why Shortland Street's Ngahuia Piripi was reluctant to work with her real-life love Teone Kahu

''Honestly, if you'd asked me before this if I'd ever want to work with him again, I would have said no.''

By Ellen Mackenzie
It was on the set of Shortland Street where Ngahuia Piripi and Teone Kahu's love story began, but those initial days together were far from happy times.
Their personalities clashed and they were constantly arguing, so it's no wonder that when Teone was approached about returning to the show in 2019, he immediately thought of his girlfriend of two years and turned down the offer.
"I knew working together and living together would be a challenge, and that's a big part of the reason why I said no at first," tells Teone, 27, tells Woman's Day.
"I also felt like I was done with my character, but then when they started telling me about how he'd lost a leg in a bombing, and how mine and Nga's characters would link up in some way, I started to change my mind."
Upon hearing the news that Teone was set to return as Dr Logan Hawks after more than a year away from the soap, Ngahuia, who stars as Dr Esther Samuels, was less than thrilled.
"All I could think about was the first scene we filmed together all that time ago and I stormed off set because I got so mad at him – that was my horror moment!" recalls the 29-year-old beauty.
"Honestly, if you'd asked me before this if I'd ever want to work with him again, I would have said no."
But despite her fears, Ngahuia didn't want to stand in the way of Teone following his career dreams. She explains, "We were worried about working together, and that we'd take work life home and vice versa. But obviously I want him to be doing what he loves and I thought it might be interesting trying
it out."
However, in a surprising twist, being back together on Shorty has only brought the couple closer.
Ngahuia tells, "It's helped our relationship outside of work and it's helped us professionally too, challenging our acting."
As Esther, she had an abusive relationship with Finn Warner (played by Lukas Whiting).
Teone adds, "We've really grown as a couple in terms of our teamwork and our communication. It's made us realise what we can achieve together. Now we know that we can be professional and smash out a scene. We can do anything now. Maybe we should try out for The Amazing Race?!"
The biggest challenge the lovebirds faced while filming was trying to switch off their natural chemistry and keep their characters' interactions neutral. But there were some scenes where their close bond was an advantage.
"We stopped running lines together at home because we'd always end up debating," tells Teone. "But then we had one scene where we had to perform CPR together, and we could go home and practise together to make it look more realistic."
Nodding, Ngahuia – a mother to nine-year-old daughter Owairea – adds, "That really was one of the perks. And we're a great team in real life, so we make for a great team on screen!"
Returning to the TVNZ 2 show has been particularly challenging for Teone as his character Logan has come back from war-torn Syria as an amputee.
"They've never had a doctor on the show with this type of injury," he explains. "It's an important chance to show my character's skills, rather than focusing on a love story, and also shine a spotlight on people who have injuries like this or who are living in places of war."
As to whether or not anything romantic could stir between their characters, Ngahuia teases, "They didn't have too much to do with each other last time. This time, we had a lot of scenes together and our characters do have some interaction."
But in real life, it's clear these two stars are smitten as they relax after our photo shoot. Teone smiles, "It's a great way for us to start the new year. In 2018, we achieved a goal of being able to work together and live together, and that's just enhanced our trust in each other and our whole relationship."

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