Tears for Shorty Street star:
Emotional farewell for soap favourite.
No one is more disappointed than Pua Magasiva about Shortland Street nice-guy Vinnie’s growing flirtation with newcomer Teuila (Tameka Sowman).
“It shook things up for me. It just didn’t feel normal,” says Magasiva, adding he really did feel like he was cheating on his screen wife Nicole (Sally Martin). “That sort of thing didn’t feel normal to me. I felt disgusted.”
When their characters wed two years ago, both actors expressed a wish for the marriage to be happy and long-lived, but it appears the show’s writers didn’t get the memo.
The relationship has been plagued with obstacles, not least Nicole’s affair with fellow nurse Ruby (JJ Fong).
Vinnie’s ego took a further battering when his attempt to become a successful businessman ended with him having to sell his stake in the IV and Nicole, struggling to deal with their son Pele’s diabetes diagnosis, failed to realise his devastation.
The final straw comes when Vinnie’s son Michael (Duane Evans Jr) decides to move to Singapore to live with his mum, Jemima (Liesha Ward-Knox), where he can enjoy the type of lifestyle his father wants for him but is unable to provide.
“I think when Michael left, it left a big hole and then he started to self blame. He
went through a period of thinking, ‘You’re useless. Why couldn’t you have found a way? Why did you just take the easy route and let him go with his mother?’ ” Magasiva says, adding the farewell scenes were every bit as hard as they looked on screen. “That day was one of the hardest days I’ve ever worked on Shortland Street. “A lot of the time I was crying before the takes. Duane (who is joining the cast of the movie Avatar 2) was a crucial part of my life as Pua. Because he came in at such a young age we built a relationship like father and son, but also like best friends, and it was sad to see him go.” It was an even bigger blow for Vinnie. “As much as he wanted to stay strong, there comes a point where nothing seems to be going right, so he starts to question everything,” Magasiva says, adding that Vinnie’s troubles are realistic for many.
“I was like, ‘Far out, man, this is the stuff that really happens’. People do risk a lot of money, put their houses on the line to create a business, create a future for their families and, when it all goes wrong, what do you have left?
“His dreams have been shattered. Then this girl comes along and she’s saying the right things. She’s saying ,‘ You can still do this stuff’ and he’s going, ‘Why can’t Nicole think like that? Why isn’t she saying that? Why isn’t she sticking with me?’ I guess he gets lured into a dark place.”
Teuila enters Vinnie’s life when she turns up in the ER needing an appendectomy. However, it turns out it is not their first encounter.
She reveals Vinnie saved her life in Samoa, when she nearly drowned as a child, and although Vinnie doesn’t recall being quite so heroic, a bond is formed. Teuila flirts with him and offers him a job running her hotel in Samoa.
Their romance heats up and, after Vinnie kisses Teuila at a Halloween party, the pair flirt until they are sprung by Damo (Grant Lobban). Matters come to a head this week.
“I’m not saying this is the end of Vinnie and Nicole but we are the one couple that everyone does not want to break up,” Magasiva says, adding no relationship is perfect.
“Social media creates this fake message of what life ought to be like, or could be like, but no matter what happens you have to fight, you have to fight to the bitter end until there is nothing left worth fighting for.”
Tameka Sowman as Teuila