Ray Columbus farewelled at Auckland funeral

Mourners are arriving at St Patrick’s Cathedral in central Auckland for legendary New Zealand entertainer Ray Columbus’ funeral. The 74-year-old died at his home north of Auckland on Tuesday after battling ill health for several years.

Andrew Little meets Andrew Big

Attending an end-of-year function for TV3’s The Nation, Mr Little posed with the hand-made carpet print and met its creator. Labour leader Andrew Little’s come face-to-face with his knitted likeness. When the generous, full-frontal portrait was revealed in September, Mr Little said it wasn’t “entirely accurate” – and he’s sticking to that evaluation. The only thing that’s slightly wrong is the size of the arms,” he said, not mentioning the portrait’s other flattering features. “There are some really well-educated guesses here. “I’m curious about your inspiration,” he told Whanganui artist Mark Rayner. “The proportions are right everywhere I look, apart from the arms.”

Rock bands rise for Standing Rock

A who’s who of musicians have written to US President Barack Obama, protesting the treatment of Standing Rock Sioux tribe members trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Coldplay’s Chris Martin gatecrashes The Edge to deny bizarre concert bans

It struck a nerve with the frontman, who arranged a last-minute interview with The Edge so he could set the record straight. Chris Martin from Coldplay turned up to radio station The Edge on Friday to deny reports he had made bizarre restrictions on fans coming to the UK band’s Auckland concert. “Someone said: ‘You guys have banned everything at your show,’ I thought what are you talking about?” Martin said. An article in the New Zealand Herald alleged the rock music legends had called for bans on nearly everything at their Mt Smart show – from studded belts to backpacks, umbrellas and chilly bins. And it blamed it all on us, so I was like – I don’t think it came from us.”

The full video interview will be released on Monday. “And then they showed me this article that said if you’re coming to our concert you basically have to come with no clothes on and you can’t bring anything at all.

Cut Off Your Hands cut off no more

“We just got picked up on Triple-J in Australia through friends on Facebook, whereas in the old days you’d have to take them out for coffee and spend ages buying them cakes to get it on to the radio,” says lead singer Nick Johnston. “Life got in the way, we’ve been busy with other things,” Lee says. “We’re a legacy band now, which is strange to say!” says lead guitarist Jono Lee. Though time passes, some things never change. After taking it slowly, the rush has returned – Cut Off Your Hands is cut off no more. Now they’re returning from a long hiatus and embracing their status as music veterans. Gone are the days of endless touring, playing hundreds of shows a year. The band members’ lives have changed markedly too. But an old crowd favourite will be keeping things familiar – post punk rockers Cut Off Your Hands are playing again for the first time in years. “Like, it’s been 10 years, which is such a long time.”
Their new single ‘Hate Somebody’ is their first release in the last five years. Only 10 years ago, Cut Off Your Hands was a band just beginning to earn global praise. “It just means trying to sneak out of the office to come to interviews like this,” he says. And the entertainment world is already very different to the one they left just a few years ago. “It draws on stuff that’s violent and has energy and a lot of groove.”
And that groove is returning to the stage at Laneway Festival next year. There’s an all-new venue for the Laneway Festival when the indie music concert returns in January. “I kind of hear a harkening back to that old stuff,” Lee says. They’re still the same post-punk indie rockers – with a new sound familiar to their oldest fans. Johnston’s an architect now – juggling music with a professional career. “Playing shows is still quite novel and it’s been a little while off, so coming back to it is a bit of a rush,” Lee says.

Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs dies aged 86

But he preferred being anonymous. “Manuel became dreadfully famous all over the world, but not Andrew Sachs, he was not beside all that and I like that,” Sachs said. He may have been Manuel, but Sachs spent most of his career in radio. Andrew Sachs, who played bumbling waiter Manuel in the comedy series Fawlty Towers, has died. Still that role has brought a touching tribute from Cleese, who said he could never have found a better actor for Manuel. Sachs lost his battle with dementia age 86, but he will forever fondly be remembered as Manuel from Barcelona. He recently hit the headlines when comedians Russel Brand and Jonathan Ross were fired for a phone prank about the actor’s granddaughter. “The idea that you could have constant misunderstandings was a terribly simple one but it worked well,” Cleese said. “I said, ‘Can I do it as a German waiter, my first language is German’, he said, ‘I don’t think so’,” Sachs said in an old interview. The German-born British actor was asked to do the role by John Cleese.

Story’s summery Christmas anthem tops iTunes singles chart

A Christmas song released by Story has already rocketed to the top of the iTunes singles charts less than eight hours after it was released. The team said on Wednesday that they were confident their message of good cheer would resonate with the true spirit of a Kiwi Christmas, and that hunch appears to have been proven correct.

Hollywood power couple welcome second baby

Mila gave birth to a baby boy on November 30, no name has been announced yet. According to E! “She points to Mila and she’s like, ‘Baby brother!’ when she points to the belly,” he said. Kutcher accidently revealed the sex of the baby back in October on the Today show recalling their first child pointing out at Mila’s baby bump. Hollywood heart throb Ashton Kutcher and wife Mila Kunis have welcomed their second baby to the world. Their first child, daughter Wyatt Isabelle Kutcher was born in 2014.

Beaver takes offence at store’s fake Christmas trees

Staff at a Maryland dollar store issued a “unique” call for help after they were confronted with a wild beaver suspected of causing property damage in the Christmas decorations aisle. Photographic evidence shows damage left in the animal’s wake, including discarded plastic cups and wrapping paper. The Sheriff’s Office told media the suspect attempted to flee the scene when approached by Corporal Yingling. Despite the lack of cooperation, Cpl Yingling described the large rodent as “adorable”. Witnesses to the incident told local media they saw the beaver inspecting the fake Christmas trees and scattering a small number of decorations.

Woman in Marc Ellis driveway dispute celebrates appeal

“A lot of people have contacted me during this process to sympathise and to say similar things have happened to them.”
Ms Ross says she will be celebrating the outcome with friends. Briar Ross was ordered to pay over $1000 after being found guilty of wilful damage in May. Ms Ross’ conviction has been overturned due to a lack of evidence, which Ms Ross says is a relief. A woman accused of intentionally damaging the driveway of former All Black Marc Ellis has had her conviction overturned on appeal. “Even though the supposed crime was a really petty one, it’s just not something I wanted to live with,” she says. Ms Ross instructed a digger to tear down a wall and dump the rocks on Mr Ellis’ property after taking issue with construction on his property. Mr Ellis told

Hadid and The Weeknd reunite on the runway

Fans are crossing their fingers for a reunion, with social media exploding as The Weeknd serenaded Hadid. “He is my best friend, and I am excited because I am walking during his performance.” before the event. “I was smiling SO HUGE on the inside I promise!!!!” she wrote. “This is his second year performing, and I think he’s going to kill it. The pair were together for almost 18 months before breaking up in early November. The younger Hadid sister strode down the runway in a silver lace bodysuit while her ex-boyfriend Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, performed his hit single ‘Starboy’. There is no awkwardness,” she said. Thank you @theweeknd for being the best and most incredible performer on the planet. You KILLED it, as always.”

Hadid also spoke warmly in an interview with E! “The most fun and nerve racking experience of my life but I wish I could do it over and over and over again!!!!! Bella Hadid and The Weeknd have sent the rumour mill into overdrive after a run-in on the Victoria’s Secet runway. They remain close friends, with Hadid dedicating an Instagram post from the night to her ex-boyfriend.

Story’s ‘Christmas in New Zealand’ song released, profits going to earthquake relief

Kiwis finally have a festive song for Kiwis, by Kiwis – and it’s all for charity. Iconic entertainer Frankie Stevens plays a starring role on the song, while ‘Briscoes Lady’ Tammy Wells, celebrity chef Nadia Lim, radio host Joe Cotton and United Future leader Peter Dunne also feature. The Story team re-recorded his Kiwi classic with a bunch of stars – but were coy on who their line-up would include until Thursday night’s show, when they revealed some of the big names who’d joined the ranks. All the proceeds of Story’s new Christmas track will go to the earthquake relief effort in quake-ravaged Kaikōura. “We’ve got some very Kiwi faces helping us take back the season and what better cause than the New Zealand Red Cross’ Kaikōura appeal,” said Story reporter Dale Owens. Red Cross NZ Secretary General Tony Paine says the charity is appreciative of the support for those affected by the quakes. The team say they are confident their message of good cheer will resonate with the true spirit of a Kiwi Christmas after digging up country star Dennis Marsh’s 2001 gem ‘Christmas in New Zealand’. Much of the Story team also lend their singing talents to the track – and their lofty goal is to get the single to number one on the iTunes charts. “Combining the fun of a New Zealand-based festive song with helping our fellow Kiwis this holiday season is a great initiative – and we guarantee that 100 percent of the donations we receive will go to help the people affected.”
Story is confident the song can reach the number one spot, and that celebrating a true Kiwi Christmas will resonate with the country. The song can be downloaded here.  “This is a way of spreading good cheer to those who need it.”
The song reflects the summer nights, jandals, playing cricket on the beach and barbeques rather than sitting by the fire and building snowmen.

Rihanna, Prince Harry take HIV tests together in Barbados

The ‘Rude Boy’ hitmaker and Harry had blood taken from their fingers, then waited around 20 minutes before receiving their negative results. Raunchy pop star Rihanna and British royal Prince Harry have marked World AIDS Day by taking an HIV test together in Bridgetown, Barbados. The pair took the test on Thursday (local time) for the Barbados National HIV/AIDS Commission’s Man Aware event, which highlights the importance and ease of testing and aims to reduce the stigma of HIV.

Empire names Hunt for the Wilderpeople the best film of 2016

It topped Empire’s list ahead of heavy-hitters including sci-fi drama Arrival, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and Oscar darlings Spotlight and The Revenant. Anyone who’d seen director Waititi’s vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows would know we were in for an Antipodean treat,” says Empire. HINT: it rhymes with ‘Munt mor ma Milder-meeple’,” he wrote. The Barry Crump novel adaptation, which stars Sam Neill and Julian Dennison, became the highest-grossing Kiwi film ever at the New Zealand box office. Hunt for the Wilderpeople is out on DVD and Blu-ray in New Zealand. “To say that Hunt for the Wilderpeople was a surprise is perhaps overstating it. We’d call it ‘majestical’, but as Ricky insists, that’s not a word, so we’ll have to settle for calling it the best film of 2016.”
Waititi, who is currently finishing Thor: Ragnarok, tweeted a link to the article in his typical tongue-in-cheek nature. “Want to know Empire magazine’s #1 film of 2016? British film bible Empire has named Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople as the best film of 2016, calling it “utterly delightful”. “But the way it perfectly balances its elements – emotional without being overwrought, quirky without being twee, hilarious without losing touch of the story or characters – is an achievement that nobody saw coming. “It’s a small, charming, utterly delightful film, from a tiny island on the other side of the world, and it deserves to take the world by storm. Wacky comedy The Greasy Strangler, produced by Kiwi Ant Timpson, also made Empire’s list, which can be read in full on its official website.

Ukelele festival gets star treatment in Auckland

The New Zealand Ukelele Festival will take place at Vector Arena on Saturday, and will welcome a pair of extremely well-thought-of guests. “I enjoy travelling all around the world and getting to meet different people from different cultures,” Azita said. The duo first started playing for fun, but things took off when they won an international ukelele contest. “No one expected this to happen not us, not our parents or our teacher so I honestly don’t know what to expect for the future – just to have fun,” Honoka said. And for the moment, they’re doing just that. It’s easy to see how Honoka and Azita have amassed a global following – aged just 16 and 18, they’re ukelele royalty and their YouTube videos, set to stunning Hawaiian backdrops, get millions of hits. Now they play all over the world, and they say meeting new people and experiencing new cultures is the best part of the job. “We’re still in school and we’re actually skipping school right now but there are just some things you can’t learn in a classroom and out of a textbook.”
The ukelele superstars are the international guests at this year’s New Zealand Ukelele Festival, and organisers hope the pair will inspire Kiwi kids. Two Ukelele playing Hawaiian YouTube sensations are in New Zealand for the 10th anniversary of a concert which aims to get kids into music.