TV presenter and MC Luke Bird discusses his body transformation, feeling accepted by the queer community and hosting the Rainbow Games Opening Ceremony, this Thursday.

You are hosting the Rainbow Games Opening Ceremony. Why did you want to be part of the Rainbow Games?

As a creative, when opportunities are presented that align with what I represent, then I’m flapping on into that nest and splashing my sequins around. Events ‘celebrating individuality’ mean so much to me because they give our community a platform to shine wholeheartedly and allow people to be their authentic selves.


As a single gay man with a profile in New Zealand, do you feel accepted and embraced by the community? 

No, not always. This is a mixture of my social insecurities and the community itself. It’s sad because we’re the first group of people in the world to scream for acceptance and social justice, but we then dismiss our own people because of a clique, or he slept with him or he’s too fem or not fem enough. It’s shameful that we do this!

How different do you find MCing queer events from more straight/mainstream events?

There is a sense of calm and ease when MCing an event that is full-on, in-your-face, colourful and unapologetically queer! It’s the community that makes an event shine. Theyre never stiff events (excuse the pun). Queer events always bring out the best in everybody present, no matter what part of the rainbow you flap with.

In conjunction with your MCing work, you have also presented shows on Maori television and TVNZ. So many people have dreamed of being a TV presenter at some point. What are the best and worst aspects of that job?

I love what I do. If you told me 12 years ago that ‘one day you’ll be paid handsomely to just be you’ I would’ve thought you were nuts. I have worked – and still work – my furry muscle arse off to get to where I am. When I was in high school, there was no rainbow representation in NZ media. The only time you knew was when someone was being ‘outed’ and that assured that anyone who was rainbow on TV would never show it. I’m an openly loud and proud gay TV host, and to me, that is special. The worst parts can be days when your identity can be used against you for roles and opportunities. This can be hard, especially when my job is to showcase positivity and a sense of happiness on camera, but there are days when I’m in my dressing room just wanting to blob or sit by myself and reflect. I travel a lot for my MC work, which can have a sense of loneliness. I’m a big boy, but it can be a tad lonely when you’re there to entertain and then leave.

Were in a concerning time for locally produced TV and news content with the closing of Newshub and cuts at TVNZ. What has it been like for you as someone working in that industry, and why do you think locally produced TV and news are important things for New Zealand to have? 

When I heard the news, I wanted to jump through my TV screen and bitch slap someone. It sucks, but it’s nothing new to the industry, in all honesty. We’ve been bound by promises and rejections since TVs inception! I hate that it’s happening to my mates at Newshub. As creatives we get rejections all the time. You learn quickly to grow a very thick skin, but that doesn’t mean you don’t feel it. Just last month, I had three major TV show rejections, two of which I was on hold for two months, so that can be mentally tough. Producing Kiwi-made TV is extremely important. We are Aotearoa, NZ – unique in so many ways. It’s about representation. If we don’t have our identity at the forefront, then we don’t have representation.

Youre a gentleman who stands out from the crowd – because of your height and colourful floral suits. Firstly, how tall are you? And what are the pros and cons of being your height?

I’m 6ft5. I find my height a safety net. People are less likely to mess with you, but its also harder to hide; you always stand out! Because Im broad as well, I always get asked, ‘What rugby team do I play for? I have never played before! Haha.

Tell us about those gorgeous suits you wear and if you have any input into the design process behind them.
I pride myself on my outfits; it’s what people know me for. NZ Fashion brand WORLD is my ‘go-to’ designer for all my over-the-top suits and two-piece outfits. We’ve had a working relationship for just over 10 years. They know me so well that sometimes I don’t have to ask what fabrics are in; they’ll see something, email me and boom, a suit is born!

Luke Bird pre-body transformation.

You have also gone through a serious body transformation over the past few years and look slimmer and stronger every time we see you. Tell us a bit about that process and your top tips for readers looking to get in shape.

You’ve noticed?! Haha. Thank you! I have to remind myself to look back at what was – to keep progressing forward because fitness journeys can be tough. I wish that eating pies would make me fitter. I was quite overweight. I would hide that by layering clothes to feel like I wasn’t being judged. So I got a personal trainer (who at times I just wanted to strangle), and I have a fab nutritionist who is an ex-bodybuilder. She is the secret sauce to all the meaty goodness. Without a balanced diet, there is no lean, fit physique. I used to hate training, but now I love it. Its a slow-burning relationship that gives an intense feeling of strength and reward!

Luke Bird now

My top tips are: don’t follow social media fitness pages. Eating is 80% of the journey. Eat right, stick to a high-protein food plan, exercise and boom – goodbye fat! Remember, you don’t want to lose weight; you want to reduce fat. There is a big difference. A fitness journey doesn’t have an end date, so just set achievable goals and be realistic.

Luke Bird now.

Luke Bird hosts the Rainbow Games 24 Opening Ceremony at 6.30pm on Thursday 4 April at Viaduct Events Centre, Auckland. More info at Tickets from

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