Toni Street is one of New Zealand's most well known broadcasters. This year she hosted both the America's Cup and Tokyo Olympic Games for TVNZ and is co-host on NZME's Coast Breakfast radio show. She is a Mum of three, including her son Lachie who was born via surrogacy. Toni details the surrogacy journey in her new book 'Lost and Found.'
1. You have recently published a book 'Lost and Found.' Can you briefly outline what this book is about and what inspired you to write about your journey?
I was inspired to write ‘Lost and Found’ after having my three year old son Lachie via surrogacy. When we first embarked on the surrogacy journey there was only one other New Zealander who had written about it, and we really struggled to get information. When I was approached to write about my own experience, I knew there was a genuine need for real life stories. The book details our experience, including the process of adopting our biological son, also my battle with the autoimmune disease Churg-Strauss and the loss of my three siblings.
2. Covering a lot of the Olympics on our screens this year, what sport inspired you the most that you would love to try yourself?
I loved watching the kayaking. I did surf life saving as a child, but kayaking wasn’t a sport many people did in the Taranaki. We have since bought my eldest daughter a kayak and she has been loving learning how to paddle during level 3 lockdown.
3. You have openly talked about your autoimmune disease. Can you tell us a little more about this and share one tip of advice for others who may have the same condition?
Churg-strauss is an autoimmune disease where your immune system is overactive and causes blood vessel inflammation. If it’s left untreated you go into organ failure. It is treated with high doses of steroids and other immunosuppressants. My biggest piece of advice for anyone with an autoimmune condition is first and foremost to keep pushing for a diagnosis. I had eczema, asthma, and bad stomach pain for years before I was eventually diagnosed. Secondly, cut yourself some slack when you’re on the high doses of medication. They really mess you around, and you just can’t have the same expectations on yourself as before.
4. What is one coping strategy that helped you get through times of unimaginable loss and grief?
Staying close and connected to the rest of my family has helped and we make a real effort to do so. Also, to always have positive things to focus on and look forward to, even when you’re not feeling great. That could be sport, your career, a hobby or an upcoming occasion.
5. What do you consider one of the most important considerations for Mum's bouncing back from pregnancy?
I think lots of Mums like to push through, and believe they can cope with anything those early weeks and months throw at us. The reality is, it’s mentally and physically bloody tough! I think it’s important to consider what is going to make you a better Mum. If that means going for a 30-minute run, or meeting a friend for coffee on your own, try and make that happen, being in a good headspace is so important.
6. What is your favourite form of exercise/movement?
High Intensity Interval Training (HITT) workouts are my favourite. At the moment I’m doing F45 online during lockdown and quite often my two daughters will join in too. I love getting a real sweat up, and it’s quick and I can slot it into my day wherever it fits. In my twenties and early thirties I used to love running, but I’ve lost my mojo for it recently!
7. Who is your biggest inspiration?
My Mum, Wendy. She has endured the loss of three children and still has somehow managed to live a happy life. Mum has always been my sounding board and is very good at helping me make decisions and getting me to consider different scenarios. I really admire her strength and resilience.
8. What has been your proudest moment?
Navigating the surrogacy process with my best friend Sophie Braggins, which resulted in our son Lachie.
9. Favourite food/meal after a hard workout?
Homemade scrambled eggs on Vogel's extra thin toast.
10. What is one of your all-time favourite quotes?
It’s a long one from Theodore Roosevelt, we have it on our wall at home. I think it can be applied to so many different scenarios in life.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
11. What is something you have learnt about nutrition that had the biggest enhancement for your overall health?
I’ve recently learnt to decide what to cook for dinner by planning the salads or veggies first before adding meat, it’s enlightening!
12. What has been one of your biggest setbacks in life and how did you overcome this?
One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to overcome, is when I had a severe reaction to an antibiotic which, as a result, gave me a liver injury. I was incredibly sick for nearly two months and really had to fight to stay mentally present for my kids and family. To overcome the ordeal I tried to focus on the smallest victories we had during that time, like not feeling nauseous, or getting up and having a shower. I tried to take one day at a time and not look too far ahead at how seemingly hopeless the situation was.
13. If you didn’t pursue broadcasting, what do you think you would have pursued instead?
I did a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing and Management, so maybe something in that field? I quite like the idea of events management too.
14. Your favourite meal choice at your favourite local?
The Kyo-Ya Delight at our local Japanese restaurant “Kyo-Ya”. The meal is a combination of sashimi, sushi, teriyaki chicken and tempura prawns.. delish!
15. What would be one thing you would tell your teenage self, knowing what you know now?
Don’t worry so much about what other people think of you, not everyone is going to like you and that’s totally fine. Also, back yourself and your abilities, there’s no reason why you can’t do everything you want to if you’re prepared to work hard for it.