Breakfast hosts Hayley Holt and Jack Tame were instantly smitten by a visit from a little French robot in the studio today, whose job it is to distract kids from their gloomy stays in hosptial.
The three-foot robot was brought in by University of Auckland researcher Dr Craig Sutherland, who had the bright idea to reprogram the French designed machine to engage with sick kids after witnessing the positive effect it had on his own son during a stay in hosptial.
And after a short introduction, the clever little guy could clearly speak for himself.
"Thank you Hayley and Jack for having me here today," the humanoid robot said.
"I am from the University of Auckland, one of my jobs is to help children in hospital. Currently I am working at Starship Hospital in Auckland. Back to you Jack and Hayley."
Dr Sutherland said kids in Starship Hospital tended to not treat the robot like a toy, but more like an animal - attributing it a personality.
He said studies have been undertaken in which the presence of such robots are shown to help sick kids get over unpleasant medical procedures, such as injections.
While the children patients still feel the pain of such procedures they are more quickly distracted from them by the presence of the robot there to engage with.
And the charm of the robot also worked its magic on both Jack and Hayley.
"Oh my god, I am already in love with the robot, so cute, I've got feelings for it," Holt said.
Akau'ola is the younger brother of former Wests Tigers and Panthers player Sitaleki, but is determined to make his mark in the 15-man game.