MKR’s Teal and Sophie’s gift to their girl

The down-to-earth couple are teaching Lola to be grateful and grounded.
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As self-confessed workaholics, date nights are sacred to My Kitchen Rules’ hairdressing duo Teal and Sophie Mau, but the longtime lovers from Wellington have had to get inventive now fine restaurant dining is off the menu.

“Sophie and I used to go out to dinner, but witnessing the number of half-eaten plates of food was too heartbreaking,” says Teal, who first came to New Zealand in 1975 as a Cambodian refugee.

“Mine was a very humble upbringing. My family came here with the clothes on their backs and not having enough to eat was a part of life. Now that I’m an adult, I can truly appreciate that food isn’t a treat, it’s a privilege, and to this day, I don’t take that for granted.”

Indeed, despite his hardships as a child, the 51-year-old says the “character building” experience has influenced the way he and Sophie raise their six-year-old daughter Lola.

“When we welcomed our girl into the world, it’s not like we graduated from parent college with a book to refer to,” tells Teal, who is also a dad to 20-year-old Taylor from a previous relationship.

“I was adamant that when I became a dad, I wanted to give my children a better life than I had. But at the same time, my parents worked their butts off for us to turn what little they had into a life and when Lola grows up, I want her to admire me as much I do my own parents.”

As far as role models go, Teal and Sophie are stellar examples for their wee girl. The pair, who have been together for more than two decades, built their Wellington salon, Mau Hairdressing, from the ground up. In 20 years of business, their stint on the TVNZ 2 show is the first time they’ve taken a break from their labour of love.

While shutting up shop and being separated from Lola came with its challenges, the couple saw their newfound fame as an opportunity to really make a difference in their community.

“If we are successful and we win, we want to donate the prize money towards Wellington Botanical Gardens’ Discovery Garden,” says 43-year-old Sophie, referring to the community vege patch.

“The garden is like a class-room, which aims to teach kids about the power of plants as food, medicine and materials. We think of Lola growing up in an urbanised convenience world and we’d hate for her

to lose sight of that.”

Yet Sophie and Teal aren’t concerned about the prize money – they feel like the real winners already.

Teal explains, “Going on this show has taught us so much about each other. We are colleagues in the salon, and Mum and Dad at home, but when we were filming, we could simply enjoy each other. It was really special. We’d sit down to dinner and not feel the need to say anything at all.”

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