From Squirt to The Project, Kanoa Lloyd has become a familiar name to audiences across the country and she hasn’t been afraid to have her voice heard in the process. She’s been criticised and praised for standing up for what she believes in, like her Maori heritage, and now she fills us in on that journey.
When and where did your TV career start?
In 2004, when I was at Queens High School in Dunedin and I got a role on a kids show called Squirt. It was famous for its cartoon penguin, Spike, and I remember Dom Bowden hosted it once. Matt Gibb took over from him and he would borrow the boss’s flash car to pick me up from my all girls’ high school each week. So exciting!
Did you ever picture that one day you’d be hosting a current affairs programme?
Not in my wildest dreams! I’ve always watched current affairs and often found myself in awe of the incredible people in the industry and the creative ways that they spoke about important issues.
The landscape has changed a bit and I feel really lucky that my experience fits into this new, energetic, entertaining model.
You’ve been a host of kids show Sticky TV, a host on Mai FM and a weather presenter. How have those diverse roles prepared you for The Project?
You learn that everyone deserves to be informed, listened to and taken seriously. News and current affairs isn’t just for the middle class in Auckland. No matter where you are in the country, how old you are or what you care about: it’s meaningful. Oh yeah, and it’s okay to have a laugh along the way!
Which has been your favourite role and why?
That’s like trying to choose a favourite child (I think? I don’t have kids). I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for anything because I wouldn’t be doing this job without all of them.
What do you think makes a good news anchor?
My favourite news anchors are honest, kind and they’re team players. No one does this job without a huge group of smart people helping them every step of the way.
How do you balance being both funny and informative when presenting topics on The Project?
I always try to remember that we’re talking to real live people... I’ve yet to come across a person who is 100 percent serious or 100 percent silly. There’s no magic formula and we’re always working on getting the balance just right.
We’ve seen you involved in a number of conversations about the use of Te Reo, most recently with David Seymour. Do you see your position as one that could help you promote issues you believe in or your culture?
Personally, I would love to see the number of Māori women working in media increase, but I also think it’s important to identify that my experience of being a Māori woman is not the same as anyone else’s. I feel really lucky to be in a privileged place where I am given a loudspeaker to shout about things which I think are important. It’s not my intention to abuse that. I’m just trying to talk about things I think people care about.
You faced a lot of backlash on social media for your use of Te Reo when presenting the news, has that given you any concern about standing up for what you believe in?
There’s a difference between criticism and backlash. I think criticism is valid, even if it can be tricky to stomach. But I will always call out backlash when it isn’t backed by fact. That sort of thing doesn’t hold me back from telling a story or speaking out about things I believe are important.
How do you feel being the only woman on The Project alongside Jesse Mulligan and Josh Thomson?
Jesse and Josh are two of the most thoughtful, supportive, hard-working guys I have ever met – it’s fair to say we give each other plenty of stick. They’re encouraging and respectful and never make me feel like I’m playing an old fashioned sidekick, I really appreciate this about them both and I love working with them.
So now that you beat Jesse in the NZ Marketing’s definitive Hottest News Anchor category, will you be asking him to give you centre seat on the show?
Not a chance! But thank you guys, I really appreciate the honour.
People's Choice Award
He may have moved his talents to radio, but John Campbell is still commanding hearts and minds with his brash style of journalism on RNZ’s Checkpoint. He takes out the top spot with 28.9 percent, while Newshub’s Samantha Hayes comes second with 25.8, no doubt eliciting extra kudos for her work replacing Hilary Barry so confidently in the 6pm newshour chair.