Tiki tour fun in the bag

Pio Terei and Stacey Morrison on the set.
Pio Terei and Stacey Morrison on the set.

Comic Pio Terei and presenter Stacey Morrison take It's in the Bag through small-town New Zealand.

WHEN you hear the words, "What'll it be, New Zealand, the money or the bag?" flashbacks to Selwyn Toogood in the 1970s spring to mind.

But for the last three years, that quintessentially Kiwi catchphrase has belonged to Pio Terei, the host of Maori Television's revival of the game show It's in the Bag.

Along with Stacey Morrison, he has travelled through small-town New Zealand, bringing the show back to life and meeting some great Kiwi characters along the way,

To celebrate the third season of It's in the Bag, starting tonight, Sunday News had a chat with Pio and Stacey about curried crayfish, cheeky contestants and crossing Cook Strait.

Q: This is the third series of It's in the Bag since its revival. What can viewers expect to this season?

Stacey: There's no place like the East Coast! So that kicks off this series in inimitable "Naati" style. Every show is different from the last because it's all about the flair and fun of the audience in each town. We also have a new game to help an audience member to win.

Pio: The big thing for me is seeing our people be hilarious on TV.

Q: Were there many places you hadn't been to previously and were there hidden gems you can't wait to return to?

Stacey: We stayed in an amazing little farmstay in Hicks Bay that my husband seems to be searching for reasons to go back to! We walked to a stunning waterfall from there. And then there's the food – I've never had curried crayfish until we went to Te Araroa, and I've been fantasising about it ever since!

Pio: I've travelled a lot around New Zealand but I can't wait to return to the East Coast to eat more of their crayfish.

Q: This series you filmed on the Interislander for the first time. Were contestants reaching for the prize bag or the sick bag?

Stacey: Well, there was talk of the money or the sick bag, but in fact it was a lovely smooth crossing. The sick bag didn't come until we got to Whalewatch Kaikoura – but it wasn't me! We were travelling on a Kiwi icon, doing a show Selwyn Toogood made iconic, so it made the show extra special. We met a couple of families who were doing their big road/sea trip to move to the South Island, as well as unsuspecting voyagers who got a little more than they were expecting in Cook Strait.

Pio: Fortunately, it was a very calm day, but the highlight for me was the behind-the-scenes crew who handled the logistics of setting up the show so well. We just stepped out and did what we do.

Q: Is there a particular contestant in this series whoviewers should look out for?

Stacey: I'm pretty sure we met the coolest man on the planet in Ruatoria – he was more unflappable than James Bond! The entertainers who jumped up from the crowd in Gisborne, the cheekiness of characters in every town, and then there's the stars of the audience!

Pio: A kaumatua in Flaxmere who came up to be a contestant started singing the Maori battalion song, so Stace and I joined in, and then the audience too, and then we just got on with the show. He was fantastic!

Q: This has to be one of the best jobs. What's the highlight for you?

Stacey: Travelling to the small and perfect towns of our gorgeous country – with my family in tow, meeting hilarious and friendly people, and having a dream co-host!

Pio: Celebrating Maori humour was definitely a highlight. It's raw and it comes straight from our people.

Q: Pretend for a minute you're a contestant. What will your strategy be?

Stacey: Take the bag!

Pio: Forget the money, go for the bag!

It's in the Bag, tonight, 6.30pm