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'Sickening gym cult': Tory Whanau's bid to be healthy after turbulent year

Georgina Campbell,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Jan 2024, 9:23AM

'Sickening gym cult': Tory Whanau's bid to be healthy after turbulent year

Georgina Campbell,
Publish Date
Tue, 9 Jan 2024, 9:23AM

Tory Whanau has ditched the stilettos she wore at Parliament for sneakers as she settles into Wellington’s mayoralty, has become one of those “sickening gym cult type people”, and will soon move into her new townhouse that she bought off the plans. 

The Green-endorsed mayor’s personal issues have been a distraction during her first year in the city’s top job. 

She has admitted she has a problem with alcohol after being seen intoxicated in public at Havana Bar, sparking calls for her resignation. She has since vowed to give up alcohol and has sought professional help. 

Whanau has not been willing to speculate on gossip circulating in Wellington or be drawn on details about the night in question. 

“There are rumours out there of what happened that did not happen. There’s a lot of speculation but all I can say is I was out, I was intoxicated, and I shortly after admitted to a drinking problem.” 

Last year, Whanau’s dog Teddy made headlines and faced being sent out of town after it was revealed he wasn’t allowed in her office. 

But her personal life is not all doom and gloom. The new year is bringing a change of scene for the mayor, who is preparing to move into her new townhouse in Mt Cook. 

The build is scheduled to be finished in February. Whanau bought off the plans, sold her home in the northern suburb of Ngaio, and has been renting in between. 

“Suburb life isn’t quite for me, it’s very family orientated, it’s wonderful, but I like to be in walking distance to everything in the city ... I’m still a young, single, professional so the city centre is much more suited to me,” she said. 

Wellington mayor Tory Whanau is close to her dog Teddy. Wellington mayor Tory Whanau is close to her dog Teddy. 

With a new focus on health, Whanau has become “one of those sickening kind of gym cult type people”. 

She attends Body Fit Training (BFT), which she describes as the cool version of F45. 

A friend forced her to tag along to a class one day and Whanau loved it. 

“There’s a lot of young professionals, a lot of hip hop music during your workouts, and given that I want to be healthier, I want to be more active, I want to be fit again, which has taken a backseat with the first year of this mayoralty, this was exactly what I needed.” 

She turned 40 last year, which she said had taken some time to adjust to. 

“I feel proud of what I have accomplished for a 40-year-old. I’m growing up, I’m getting older, and that’s okay.” 

However, Whanau hoped she could still refer to herself as being young. 

Whanau is close to her 2-year-old dog Staffordshire bull terrier Teddy, who was almost hounded out of town after his visits to the office were found to be in breach of the council’s tenancy agreement. 

At one point Whanau thought she would have to send Teddy to Levin to live with her sister because she had such a busy schedule and couldn’t be home to look after him. 

After the Herald revealed Teddy’s fate, Whanau was flooded with offers of help. 

He now stays at a doggy daycare three days a week and friends chip in on other days. 

“He remains my little baby,” she said. 

Whanau has revamped her wardrobe from the stiletto heels and pencil skirts she wore in her former role as the Green Party’s chief of staff. 

“Since becoming mayor I did opt a little bit for comfort. As you can see I’m wearing sneakers now and I kind of just like this look a bit more.” 

Whanau has embraced the trend of wide-leg pants and often wears a tucked-in white T-shirt paired with a blazer. 

“I feel like it’s a bit more effortless, a bit cooler, and much more relaxed.” 

She keeps an eye on fashion trends on TikTok and brought in a personal stylist because “when you change your style, you can do it horribly wrong”. 

The stylist used to work for Juliette Hogan so Whanau ended up spending a fair bit of money on the New Zealand designer’s clothes. 

Whanau is a frequent visitor at Flo & Frankie but her idol is Māori fashion designer Kiri Nathan. 

The mayor is having a staycation this summer after feeling a bit burnt out and grizzly from the year. She plans to catch up on sleep, go to the gym, and take Teddy for hikes. 

“I won’t be socialising a lot. I’ll be seeing family but I just kind of want to recharge, recentre, be healthy.” 

Georgina Campbell is a Wellington-based reporter who has a particular interest in local government, transport, and seismic issues. She joined the Herald in 2019 after working as a broadcast journalist. 

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