Jemma & Alvaro’s prized friendship

Through blood, sweat and tears, the House Rules NZ winners have formed a tight bond with their fellow competitors

By Hayley Barnett
In a home renovations show that played out more like The Hunger Games, contestants Jemma and Alvaro Pasek feel lucky to have made it out alive, let alone with the $100,000 prize money in their pockets!
The couple spent five weeks renovating the five homes of their fellow contestants in House Rules NZ, and despite the stress and intense drama, they've come out of it with more than they'd ever dreamed – the best prize being their close bond with co-stars Martinique Glass
and André Helm.
The pair were their fiercest competition, coming in a close second place, and much to everybody's surprise, Jemma and Alvaro rewarded them with $20,000 of their prize money – something the generous couple had vowed to do long before their win.
Giving mates Martinique and André part of their prize money "was the right thing to do".
"We knew how much of a sacrifice Martinique and André had made to be there," explains Jemma, 32, referring to their young family and the time they took off work. "We didn't want them to walk away empty-handed. The final week was hell and we knew they were having a tough time. It was the right thing to do."
The stark contrast in mood to former episodes was obvious for all the contestants. It came after mother and daughter duo Char and Violet Oliver's shock strategic decision to score every team one out of 10 in order to gain a higher place themselves. But Jemma and Alvaro have made peace with it.
"In hindsight, those low scores did leave it up to the judges," says Jemma. "There's some fairness in that. The challenging part was that they chose to write somebody off who deserved to be there. It left a sour taste because they had been on the receiving end of scores that were given with integrity. To not give them in return seemed unfair."
Alvaro, 34, agrees, "They could have rolled the dice and walked out with their heads held high, which is what we would have done."
In the end, it was the strategy of hard work and honesty that paid off for the couple, although Jemma insists, "We didn't ever think we would win. We held Martinique and André in such a high regard the whole way through. He's a builder and she's a textiles teacher, so she's really creative. They did our house first, which really set the tone. Winning against them was a real shock."
The moment Jemma and Alvaro found out they won!
Certainly, she and Alvaro started out with a low score for their first reno, but they got progressively better as the show went on.
"We knew we had to push all the drama off to the side, try to just focus on the rules and deliver what the homeowners were asking for each week," explains Alvaro.
"Our confidence grew each week and even though we were shocked to win, we felt like we did earn that spot in the final."
Since the Three reality show wrapped, the two couples have spent time together, forming a close bond that Jemma and Alvaro know will be for life.
"We talk to them most days," tells Jemma. "We've definitely built a friendship, mainly by making it through the traumatic experience that was that last house! It helped us build a really good relationship. They're such good people."
The newlywed winners plan to be sensible with their prize money, putting most of it on the mortgage. But they will set some aside for something viewers will eventually hold them to.
"The whole country knows we want to have kids," laughs Jemma. "We talked about it so much on the show. We've put quite a lot of pressure on ourselves!"
The pair haven't ruled out going into interior design.
"It's become our obligation to the nation now," jokes Alvaro. "But in all seriousness, if we want to start a family and we're going to be down to one income for what might be a year or so, then this money will really help us."
Asked if they might be thinking of going into interior design full-time, teacher Jemma and operations manager Alvaro both cheekily admit they haven't ruled it out.
Jemma laughs, "If anyone's interested in having us renovate their house, give us a call!"

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