MAFS NZ couple Piripi and Steph reveal what really happened behind the scenes

The groom's TV confession left his bride reeling from the start!

When they first laid eyes on each other at their Vanuatu wedding, Stephanie Archer and Piripi Clarke seemed like a match made in heaven – both young, goodlooking and ready to take on the world. Of course, as contestants on Married At First Sight New Zealand, things didn’t go so smoothly.

Despite Piripi’s puppy-dog charm and easy-going nature, viewers have been trying to get their heads around why Steph, 31, just can’t seem to get on board. She comes across as an overthinker who takes life too seriously.

But when talking to Woman’s Day, the Auckland marketer reveals there’s one thing that coloured her judgement from the start – and it wasn’t the fact that Piripi, 28, has two children.

Steph’s wondering if her groom is a Nice Guy or an FBoy.

“Piri told me on our wedding night that he had applied for FBoy Island NZ and that was how he ended up being approached by the MAFS producers,” says Steph. “He told the boys at the stag do too, so it wasn’t something he was embarrassed about or hiding.

“I had signed up for a marriage and I was ready to go the whole nine yards from the beginning. That conversation made me feel I was put with someone who didn’t see the value in the marriage.

“I’d been told that we were so compatible, yet this guy hadn’t even applied for the show and didn’t want a marriage. It just felt like there was an application on the desk at the time and they went with that.”

Piripi understands Steph’s feelings. The Hamilton brewer laughs, “I get where Steph’s coming from – FBoy Island doesn’t have a very good title, right? But it was one of those things where an ad popped up on my Instagram feed, I threw an application in and it turned out to be that show. I didn’t go on the show, but that’s how I came to be on MAFS. They saw me as husband material, so I took it as a compliment.”

Whether he would’ve been a “Nice Guy” or “FBoy” on the TVNZ+ reality series, Piripi says, “I didn’t get that far! I just threw my hat in and didn’t think about it. I’m glad I did because it led me to this experience and I got to meet some really fantastic people.”

‘If someone breaks my trust, it’s over for us.’

However, Steph struggles to see the lighter side of it. She shares, “Even if Piri was a good guy, he’d get to the end, win some money and walk away with a girlfriend. But this is a marriage. I want to have babies and build a stable family that stays together. Coming from a broken home, I’m worried about repeating that.

“I was just like, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ And for him to say it so flippantly, like, ‘Oh, yeah, I was nearly on another show, but I ended up here,’ like it was the booby prize, it was concerning.”

While it seemed on the show that Piripi’s two children from a former relationship – aged five and three – were a red flag for Steph, what wasn’t aired on the show was Piripi telling her that he’s still close with the mother of his kids and that they’d broken up when their first child was still a baby.

“I talked to my ex before I jumped on the show,” explains Piripi. “We have a good relationship and she was even my reference for the show. They wanted to see if I was a decent enough person and she gave me a good reference. She cracked up when she called me about that. She was like, ‘What are you doing?!’ I replied, ‘I don’t know!’”

Piripi adds that their second child was “a slip-up” that happened years after he split from his ex.

“I’ve only really been in two proper relationships. That one and another one, and those two were kind of intertwined.”

Piripi confessed to cheating several times on MAFS. “I’d never really spoken about it other than in counselling,” he says. “I was trying to move on from that part of my life. When the cameras were in front of me, it just came to the surface. The emotions came out and I couldn’t control it.”

Surprisingly, it didn’t affect Steph the way the admission of the FBoy Island application did.

She says, “I’m never going to judge someone for what they did years ago with another partner. You can tell he’s remorseful. I was never going to be anxious about it, but if someone breaks my trust, that’s it – it’s over for us.”

Married At First Sight New Zealand screens 7pm Sunday to Tuesday on Three and streams on ThreeNow.

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