TV

The Block NZ heart-throbs Ben and Tom reveal their true loves

They’re making friends and loving the laughs, but larrikins Ben and Tom insist their reno comes before romance.

By Ellen Mackenzie

As The Block NZ stars Ben Speedy and Tom Waalkens lean against a sparkling new motorbike while wearing leather jackets and slicked-back hair, it's easy to see how the charming Auckland besties have been winning the hearts of New Zealanders on the hit reality reno series.

When we take our Woman's Day photo shoot down to the city's waterfront, we're quickly interrupted by three young female fans wanting photos, a new regular part of Ben and Tom's day.

"It's crazy how happy people are to meet us," says project manager Tom. "I couldn't quite grasp the concept of that beforehand, but to be able to brighten someone's day is pretty cool."

However, the single lads, both 24, admit that could be a downside when it comes to dating after the hit Three show wraps.

"My first question is going to be, 'Have you watched The Block?'" laughs architectural graduate Ben, whose mum Sandy encouraged the pair to sign up for the reality show. "And if they have, I'll cancel the date!"

Tom adds, "They already know too much! That's the weirdest thing about The Block. Obviously, it's cool that people want to engage with you, but it's kind of intimidating to think that you go outside and meet someone, and they know everything about you, and you know nothing about them."

Ben & Tom, Chloe & Emily
Ben & Tom, Chloe & Emily

The heart-throbs admit they both recently got out of long-term relationships and although the show has been hinting at a romance between the boys and their friendly neighbours Chloe Hes and Emily Blanchett, both Ben and Tom say they're not here to find love.

"We're just friends," they both confirm, with Tom adding, "We get along really well with the girls and that's where we are at the moment. We're trying to build a house right now and not too much else."

When it comes to love and their ideal girls, both agree they want someone who's fun and doesn't take life too seriously. And as the boys joke around on our photo shoot, it's clear they're not too serious themselves.

"Come on, Tom, give it some! I want to hear what the engine sounds like," laughs Ben as the boys ogle the motorbike on our shoot and jokingly polish the headlight.

"Tom and I have loved motorbikes for a long time and we used to go mountain biking together," he tells.

"I literally just finished stripping down the old motorbike I'm rebuilding when we got a call that we were going to be on the show," says Tom. "Before I took it apart, we went on a road trip to the Coromandel and Ben rode on the back of my bike."

"It was good fun, but not that comfortable," Ben grins.

If they win enough money on The Block, the first thing they'll be buying is a bike for Ben to ride solo. But in all honesty, the boys aren't too confident they'll be able to take out the competition.

"We just can't style to save ourselves," explains Ben. "We could have a sick-as build team and make the house well built, but as soon as you choose the wrong pillow, these judges shred you."

Yet it's the experience, not the cash, that's most valuable for the childhood friends.

"It's given me a good perspective on costs and details of what I draw at work," tells Ben. "I always wanted to do an apprenticeship, but you have to do three years of work scraping concrete before you really get to do anything. Now on The Block, I'm part of the building process straightaway and more involved than I would be anywhere else."

Concludes Tom, "Our main objective going into the whole thing was to test our limits and take this opportunity to learn how to renovate a house. We don't want to skimp on money so we can make more profit – we want to take the opportunity to really test our boundaries."

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