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The Real Drug Talk

Tuesday 7 May, 2019

New Local Webseries Aimed at Kiwi Youth
REAL About Drugs & Alcohol

The REAL Drug Talk, a new six-part factual webseries aimed at educating Kiwi young people about drugs, alcohol and related topics, launches on Monday 13 May as well as NZME’s WatchMe and radio brands, and on

Click to watch the series trailer for The REAL Drug Talk

Developed in consultation with the New Zealand Drug Foundation and designed to provide reputable and evidence-based information in an entertaining way, The REAL Drug Talk follows Villainesse’s highly successful online series The REAL Sex Talk which premiered in 2018.

The format combines expert information with celebrity power and humour, providing Kiwi youth with a source of information they can trust and that they’ll actually want to watch. Episodes will be available freely online via NZME’s WatchMe, and’s platforms, and are shareable via social media, meaning that Kiwi youth can easily access the content on their devices.

“During the research phase for our previous series The REAL Sex Talk, two focus groups of teenagers told us they wished the series also focused on drugs,” explains Lizzie Marvelly, editor of Villainesse and the writer and co-Producer of The REAL Drug Talk. “We know this issue is a topical one for our young people, and they want to know more about how to keep themselves and their friends safe.”

The series producers acknowledge that the illegality of illicit drugs means there can be a reluctance to talk openly about drug use. “However, almost everyone knows someone who uses an illegal substance of some sort,” says the series Director and Producer Jo Raj. “And alcohol consumption is even more widespread, with 23 percent of Kiwi secondary school students reporting that they had engaged in binge-drinking behaviour within the last four weeks. Our objective with The REAL Drug Talk is to arm Kiwi teens with knowledge and tools to help them to navigate a world in which drugs and alcohol exist.”

The REAL Drug Talk is made with support from NZ On Air and also received funding from the New Zealand Drug Foundation.


Laura Daniel
Comedian, actor and writer, Laura Daniel is known for her television appearances on shows including Jono & Ben, Funny Girls and, more recently, Dancing with the Stars.

Sally Martin
Long-term core cast member of Shortland Street, Sally has also had a starring role in Power Rangers and has previously appeared in The Strip, The Killian Curse and Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby.

Reuben Milner
Currently part of the core cast of Shortland Street as the character Jack Hannah.

James Nokise
An award-winning comedian, James is also the host of the popular RNZ podcast Eating Fried Chicken in the Shower.

Grace Palmer
Best known for her role as Lucy in Shortland Street and Monique in the Australian series Home & Away, Grace also featured alongside Shailene Woodley in the US film Adrift.

Ngahuia Piripi
Plays core cast character Nurse Esther Samuels on Shortland Street.

Possum Plows
Lead singer in Auckland band Openside, Possum identifies as non-binary. They have a Bachelor in Music and won the University of Auckland Songwriter of the Year Award in 2014.

Rei is an award-winning Kiwi hip-hop artist who originally hails from Wellington.

Thomas Sainsbury
Best known for his hugely popular ‘face-swap’ impersonations of New Zealand politicians, Thomas Sainsbury is an established stage and screen writer, director and performer.

Lionel Wellington
A graduate of Toi Whakaari, the New Zealand Drama School, Lionel has appeared on screen in a number of New Zealand productions including Shortland Street and feature film The Dark Horse.

Guy Williams
Most well-known for his standup comedy, Guy is also an experienced television and radio host.



Ben Birks Ang | NZ Drug Foundation National Youth Services Advisor
Ben has worked with young people in the drug and alcohol sector for over a decade, and has built up a strong network. He also has many years’ experience in developing and delivering treatment services for young people, including establishing and overseeing school-based, community, and residential drug and alcohol treatment programmes. He is a registered addiction practitioner and accredited clinical supervisor. In addition, Ben is the Chair of the Addiction Practitioners Association of Aotearoa New Zealand (dapaanz). In the little spare time he has left, Ben loves searching YouTube for different covers and remixes of music.

Elizabeth Auina-Jones | Advisor for Community Action Youth and Drugs (CAYAD)
Elizabeth lives in West Auckland and currently works as an Advisor for Community Action Youth and Drugs (CAYAD) – a public health programme based within Auckland Council that’s committed to minimising alcohol and drug-related harm for at-risk young people. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Auckland, and her background is in community development, funding and project management. She is particularly passionate about improving health outcomes and removing barriers to educational achievement for Māori and Pasifika communities.

Hadleigh Pouesi | Manager ZEAL West Auckland
Hadleigh has worked with youth development organisation ZEAL for more than 10 years and currently manages the West Auckland branch.

Khylee Quince, BA/LLB (Hons), LLM (First Class) | Associate Professor and Director of Māori and Pacific Advancement (AUT) and NZ Drug Foundation Trustee
Khylee Quince (Ngapuhi, Ngāti Porou) is an Associate Professor and the Director of Māori and Pacific Advancement at AUT. nearly 20 years’ experience teaching and researching criminal law, youth justice, and Māori and the criminal justice system. She is the author of “Youth Justice in New Zealand” and in 2014 was the recipient of a National Tertiary Teaching Excellence Award for Sustained Excellence. Khylee has extensive governance experience at local and national levels. Outside of her work, Khylee is a mother of three, a sci-fi Star Wars and Doctor Who geek, with a long term addiction to under-performing sports teams, particularly the Warriors and Liverpool Football Club.


Episode 1: Know Your Substances
With so many different drugs floating around the country, it’s difficult to know which is which, let alone what they all do. In this episode we take a look at the most common drugs in New Zealand, with experts outlining the expected effects and the risks attached to using them. From cannabis to synnies to meth, there’s a lot out there to get your head around!

Episode 2: The Law
Taking drugs is illegal in New Zealand. So is buying alcohol if you’re under 18. In this episode, experts explain how the legal framework around illegal substances works.

Episode 3: How To Be Safer
So, it’s safest if you don’t use drugs or drink to excess, but if you are going to do it, there are a few vital things that you need to do to be as safe as possible. This episode will educate young people about the most immediate and biggest risks of drug and alcohol use as well as aiming to reduce the harm of drug and alcohol use.

Episode 4: Choosing To Be Sober
When you’re young, sometimes it can seem like everyone is doing it (having sex, drinking, using drugs, etc…) but you, and then peer pressure can make you do things that you don’t really want to do. This episode explores the decision not to drink or use drugs.

Episode 5: When Does Drug Use Become a Problem?
Some people use the odd bit of weed here and there and they’re fine. Some people start using a drug and quickly become hooked. Some people find that they can’t get through the day without a drink (or seven). How do you recognise when recreational use of substances is becoming a problem?

Episode 6: How To Get Help
So you’ve realised that you or your mate is using drugs or drinking alcohol in a way that isn’t healthy, but what kind of help is out there?

About Villainesse
Villainesse is a New Zealand media website founded by Lizzie Marvelly in 2015, winning Best Blog award at the Canon Media Awards in 2017. Villainesse is a platform that primarily focuses on providing information that is relatable to a younger demographic and has a reputation for bringing controversial and difficult subjects to light.

About The NZ Drug Foundation
Drug use can cause social, health and economic harms to individuals, families, and communities. This includes harms caused by tobacco and alcohol. Preventing and reducing drug-related harm is the challenge the New Zealand Drug Foundation has taken on.

The NZ Drug Foundation has been at the forefront of major alcohol and other drug policy debates for almost 30 years, advocating for policies and practices based on the best evidence available. The Foundation recognises drugs, legal and illegal, are a part of everyday life experience, so is safety-focused and take a harm reduction approach in all its work. The Drug Foundation is a registered charitable entity under the Charities Act 2005 (No. CC27025). The Foundation’s work is supported by government funding, corporate and private grants and donations, and by Foundation members.


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