Doc­u­men­taries

New Zealand Listener - - THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT - By FIONA RAE

Shaun John­son: Across the Mekong (Prime, Satur­day, 9.30pm) is a bit more than a celebrity trav­el­ogue. The rugby league player is vis­it­ing Laos with his fam­ily to learn more about his mother’s her­itage and her jour­ney to New Zealand.

After his par­ents di­vorced, John­son and his broth­ers were brought up by their fa­ther, and didn’t know much about their mother’s past. In the doco, the four broth­ers and their par­ents, Paul and Say, ac­com­pa­nied by a niece,

start their jour­ney in Laos’s cap­i­tal, Vi­en­tiane, where Say’s sis­ter and aunt live.

It’s the first in a se­ries of eye-open­ers: there is great food and much laugh­ter and the lads be­gin to see a dif­fer­ent side to Say. “See­ing her happy, see­ing her smile, has def­i­nitely made this trip al­ready worth it,” Shaun John­son says.

The boys from Whanga­paraoa also learn more about their mother’s Bud­dhist be­liefs when they go to a tem­ple to re­ceive a bless­ing for the trip, but it’s the visit to the banks of the Mekong River, where Say es­caped to Thai­land 36 years be­fore, that is re­ally special. Shaun’s old­est brother, Tee, was one, and he and Say were shot at after she pushed off in a small boat.

“We didn’t know any­thing about this,” says Tee. “She didn’t want to make a big fuss out of it.”

Shaun John­son: Across the Mekong, Satur­day.

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