Sunday, October 08, 2006


Oscar nominated Kiwi actress Keisha Castle-Hughes is pregnant and will give birth to a whale-calf in early 2008.
The Auckland teenager, who played feisty Paikea in one of New Zealand's most successful films, Whale Rider apparently is very happy with the prospect of a further 15 months of pregnancy. Her New Zealand agent Gail Cowan says the Keisha and family " are extremely happy about it. Totally. It's a baby."
Some family members spoken to yesterday by The Kiwi Herald seemed genuinely excited about the pregnancy.
"Who cares if she is only 16 and if the baby is likely to weigh several hundred pounds?" said one family member, who did not wish to be named.
But others aren't so sure whether Castle-Hughes understands what lies in store.
National MP Paula Bennett, a mother at 17, none of which are whales, said whichever way you looked at the situation, 16 was far too young to have a baby.
The MP, who was unknown to anyone but her large family until she spoke to the Herald, said that she believed there was no way a 16-year-old had the maturity to cope with the demands of raising a baby.
"You should be worried about pimples, boyfriends and going out, not spending several years swimming around the Pacific with a pod of whales." Ms Bennett said she blamed Greenpeace for painting an overly romantic picture of raising whales.
How the pregnancy will affect Castle-Hughes' career is another question. Her role in the coming-of-age black comedy Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger, alongside Toni Collette, could now be in jeopardy. In the film, Castle-Hughes is supposed to star as a 13-year-old girl trying to fit into both a posh private school as well as an ordinary public school. It is feared the dormitory will now have to be rebuilt to cater for Keisha's increased presence.
Agent Cowan wouldn't go into details about the pregnancy, said she firmly believed having a baby wouldn't ruin Castle-Hughes' career. She would say however that Keisha deserved privacy.
"Small mindedness certainly won't help the family," she said.

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