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Amy and Stu celebrate after their win of The Block NZ 2018.
Amy and Stu celebrate after their win of The Block NZ 2018.

Pop CultureOctober 6, 2018

‘We’re not arseholes’: Block winners Amy and Stu hit back at the haters

Amy and Stu celebrate after their win of The Block NZ 2018.
Amy and Stu celebrate after their win of The Block NZ 2018.

The Block NZ season seven champs Amy and Stu meet The Spinoff nursing hangovers, but carrying a big cheque.

They’ve had just two hours sleep since they took home a huge cheque, but Amy and Stu are glowing. The pair seemed preordained to win the season, reeling off a string of ridiculous scores, culminating in mathematically incomprehensible 21 out of 20. And while they did duly win, it was a scrappy, often bitter path they trod. They were caught brazenly cheating part way through (“we didn’t intentionally cheat,” they say, it was a “health and safety” thing, they say), and spent much of the competition badmouthing Claire and Agni, with whom they fought ever since they switched house with them in week one. For most of the season they were playing one against three, the remaining teams conspiring to trade advantages just to chip away the odd win here and there.

They lived by the slogan ‘Gizzy hard’, and in truth it was hard to love them. Amy came off as cruel and deeply insecure, while Stu at least had the decency to be rude to your face. For all that they were the best drama the show has seen in years, insular and unflappable as they out-thought and out-worked the other teams, then happily gloated about it.

I loved them as on-screen talent. They were foul-mouthed, surly, mean and vindictive, and the show would have been so much worse without them.

So of course I leap at the chance to meet with them the day after their win. Appropriately, they’re celebrating at Oyster and Chop, a viaduct eatery owned by Julie Christie, the queen of reality TV in New Zealand. When I arrive Amy’s on the phone to EB Games, trying to get a replacement console for their son, after his was stolen from the hotel carpark overnight. Amy is fearful of the media (“Stuff hate us for some reason. They bully us for some reason.”), while Stu is more stoic about the process (“Some of it was portrayed to make us look like arseholes. But we are are who we are.”).

We were accompanied by a Three publicist who was upset at my questions about the drama. Four minutes in she said “Can I just stop and say – I don’t mind where you go with this. But I don’t want a completely looking backwards, negative article… we’re here because they won.” Eventually we resumed, and spoke for about half an hour, before we finished up. They were keen to get a nap in before the driveshow media rounds started up again later that afternoon.

Amy and Stu, winners of a massive gold hammer and a car key.

The conversation below has been edited and condensed for clarity and brevity.

Duncan Greive: Did you recognise the versions of yourselves you saw on screen?

[10 second silence]

Stu: Some of it was portrayed to make us look like arseholes. But we are are who we are.

Amy: We’re definitely not arseholes… I must admit, some episodes did surprise me.

Was the cheating episode accurate?

Amy: I knew that we cheated… but we didn’t intentionally cheat.

Stu: We were in the wrong, but the way that it came across made it look way worse than we were.

How did that feel, when you’re within it?

Amy: We felt quite targeted. Just in general – even from the media.

It’s like when the popular kid starts to get bullied. It felt horrible. It felt horrible. I think some of the media were pricks.

Did you feel like there was an othering? Between you guys and the rest of the cast?

Stu: Yeah well those three teams just sort of hung out and did their thing. We just got on with the job. They’d hang around and have parties. Watch TV or have a movie night. We had shit to do, so we just got in and done it. Because what you didn’t do that day we had to do the next day.

How hard was it to maintain your focus on actually building things while all the TV chaos was going on around you?

Stu: All that shit was water off a duck’s back to me. They just carry on like they do and let’s just get on and do it, mate. That’s what we thought. We were born to build.

Amy: I found it harder. Stu’s ability to not let anything bother him is a gift.

Stu, it seemed like you were comfortable just knowing what the TV needed and giving it to them.

Amy: It’s hard – you’re doing this show. And you’re three weeks ahead of what you’re seeing on TV. And you sit down and watch it and you go ‘I can’t believe they said that about us!’

So you were watching the show while you were on The Block?

Stu: Yeah. We watched it on our new TV we won. We loved it.

Amy: Then you’d see then the next morning and you’d think, ‘hang on – you just bagged me out on TV’. I found that really hard.

Stu: It was hard. Because [there was a big difference between] what they said to us and what they said in their interviews. Far out man – Agni, how fake he was. I used to get pissed off, and in the end I thought, ‘I’ll just tell him how it is mate’. I said ‘take it back bro’.

Amy: …and I shut them down.

Stu: You did shut them down. But you know, from week one, when we had the scuffle with Agni, every week, Thursday or Friday, he’d make a point of coming down to ask a question or drop something off. So he could see what we were doing.

I busted him one night. That’s when I started calling him old Snoop Dogg. It was kitchen week and I was washing out the brushes. He walked past me. I thought he was going to talk to the girls – no. The boys – no. He carried on walking. I saw him peeking into the house, having a squizzy. I thought ‘do I scream at him and scare the shit out of him, or do I leave it and hit him up tomorrow. And I did.

Were there any characters aside from yourselves who you felt got an unfair deal? For example Agni was portrayed as this sleepy, workshy dude. They got some amazing shots of him kipping in his car. Was that accurate to your experience?”

Stu: Definitely, mate. Even to the last day – he’s walking around with his hands in his pockets. I asked him why he didn’t go fill up a wheelbarrow for his tradies. He said he was waiting for Wolfie. Well, do it while you’re waiting bro. He’s lazy as fuck.

Are there friendships out of it? Obviously you can still be friends with people who are lazy.

Stu: We’re all mates – for sure.

Amy: Being lazy just doesn’t work that well on The Block.

Stu: You wanna get in and do it eh. Claire’s a trooper. She’s a hard worker.

Amy, your interiors got amazing reviews. Are you planning on moving into that world?

Amy: Yeah I’d love to get into the interior world. And I probably never [thought about it] before. Because I always thought you needed some piece of paper that said you were qualified to do it.

You said before you didn’t think you could do it from Gisborne.

Amy: I meant open a shop. I think I could consult from there for sure.

It felt like a persistent judges’ note from throughout the series, that people loved your styling.

Amy: They did. Not sure about everyone else.

Let’s talk about the game. It felt like the game was a lot more sophisticated than in previous years. Especially Agni with his trading.

Stu: Yeah for sure. But they won a lot of challenges. Won a lot of plus ones.

Amy: If there was one thing I didn’t like about The Block it was the number of game changers. If there’s going to be game changers it would be cool if they could relate more to building and design. Because to be able to win a room based on the fact you can catch a marshmallow in a cup on your head? To me, it’s a bit irrelevant. That shouldn’t win or lose you a room. It should get you prizes – but not the ability to win or lose.

Tell me about Gisborne. You repped it so hard.

Amy: It’s an awesome place. I think it’s a little bit underrated, because it’s not on the way anywhere else. You’re out on a limb – you don’t really go through there. The beaches are amazing. Fishing, swimming, surfing – I reckon they’re the best beaches in New Zealand. It’s a great community, a cool vibe out there. If you moved there, you’d want to stay.

And you’re gonna stay there? Not moving to Auckland to become an influencer?

Stu: I don’t think so. I’ve got an Instagram page, but I don’t put much on it. I think it’s just got a profile pic and that’s it. People have been following me. I wonder what they’re following?

Last night – what would you give it out of 10?

Amy: I know it looked like a four. But it was at least a nine. It was really hard to process. I think we got reamed a bit online because we didn’t show enough emotion. But I dunno – you don’t wanna be too blow-arsey.

Stu: You try to stay humble eh. But it’s good to win.

Keep going!