How new Yellow Wiggle Tsehay Hawkins ignored the haters and conquered the Wiggle world

New Yellow Wiggle Tsehay Hawkins says she "doesn't really mind" if people don't like her as she embarks on her first ever tour of New Zealand.

She knows she has big boots to fill, but says her main focus is on the audiences and the fans coming into the show, telling Newshub: "It's the kids that I want to inspire."

Sixteen-year-old Hawkins took on the yellow skivvy made famous by Emma Watkins in October 2021 after the incumbent Yellow Wiggle revealed she was quitting after over a decade with the group.

"I only found out the day before it was going to be announced. So it was like a blur, which for me is good because I didn't have to think about anything," Hawkins told Newshub.

"I knew how big Emma was and how many people loved her, [I thought] this is going to be a sad day for a lot of people. So I was expecting way more criticism; I mean, it's the Wiggles, you've grown up with certain people."

Hawkins said she'd been braced for the naysayers, especially after comments from the likes of controversial Australian politician Matt Canavan who was infamously triggered by the addition of racially diverse characters to the children's music group.

"Once it was announced I got an overwhelming feedback of support and love, which I didn't expect. So it was a lot better than I thought. I think it was just 'Yeah, I just really wanted to share who I am'," she said.

"If people like me or if they don't, I don't really mind. It's the kids that I want to inspire and just help them find love for music."

Yellow Wiggle Tsehay Hawkins and other characters from the Wiggles show.
New Yellow Wiggle Tsehay Hawkins is about to embark on her first tour of New Zealand. Photo credit: Getty Images

There's no denying Hawkins has been in a whirlwind of activity since the appointment. It's barely been 12 months and as well as touring abroad and performing on stage with the likes of Kid Laroi in Australia, she's also been involved in events giving keynote speeches as an inspirational speaker.

"I'm excited to see where it goes. Yeah, it's been crazy, but I love it.

"It's what I wanted to do and what I guess I was meant to do," she said with a smile.

Purple Wiggle Lachy - who became a father to twin girls in September 2020 - said the band's paternal instincts kicked in when Tsehay was added to their gang.

"I think we all have, just in our little ways, helped, particularly with the live performing but also in the studio helping Tsehay get comfortable singing into a microphone, [as she is] more of a dancer but she is singing beautifully," he told Newshub.

"And I think it's been such a nice transition and people are absolutely loving what Tsehay's doing."

The Wiggles have undergone a resurgence in the past 12 months, from winning an ARIA award for their Rewiggled album of covers to gracing the cover of iconic music magazine Rolling Stone, their star has never shone brighter.

Lachy says the addition of Hawkins to the lineup and what's happened since has given them all "a newfound energy".

The last iteration of the Wiggles smiling and pointing their Wiggly fingers.
The last iteration of the Wiggles, with Lachy on the far left. Photo credit: Getty Images

"It somehow lifted to a whole another level with you know, I think [the cover of Tame Impala's] 'Elephant' in Australia kind of set the tone for that," he said.

"The cover of Rolling Stone came and everything's at kind of a really beautiful level. And we're seeing that on stage now. 

"There's just this real excitement for coming to a Wiggle show - it's beautiful."

The Wiggles Big Show Tour of New Zealand 2022 dates:

Claudelands Arena, Hamilton - Saturday August 20

Spark Arena, Auckland - Sunday August 21

TSB Theatre, TSB Showplace, New Plymouth - Monday August 22

The Regent on Broadway, Palmerston North - Tuesday August 23

Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington - Wednesday August 24

Christchurch Arena, Christchurch - Saturday August 27

Town Hall, Dunedin - Sunday August 28