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TV

The Block NZ's Emmett is having a boy!

The reality show winner and his expectant fiancée have laid the foundations for parenthood

By Carmen Lichi
Since scooping the biggest haul ever in The Block NZ history back in 2016, Emmett Vallender and his best pal Sam Cable have done pretty much everything together.
The reality TV winners locked their $480k prize into a shared vault for their joint property ventures, both got job offers and moved from Wellington to Auckland, both found the loves of their lives in the City of Sails, and both bought houses and got engaged last year. They also bought a gin bar together and will be each other's best men at their respective weddings.
And now Palmerston North farm boy Emmett is proud to be following hotly on Sam's heels with the news that he and his fiancée Zigie Wightman are going to be first-time parents. And just like his buddy, whose news we broke in June, Emmett and Zigie are having a boy!
"Knowing the gender for me gives it a human element, a reality," tells dad-to-be Emmett, 34, "because I'm not carrying the baby or experiencing the kicks and stuff."
Still, the couple both admit learning the baby's sex was a big surprise. "We got them to write it down in an envelope, which we opened when we went out for dinner," tells physiotherapist Zigie, 30.
"When we saw it, I realised how much I had assumed it would be a girl because there are no boys on my side of the family. So it was like…"
"Who is this little man inside me?" laughs Emmett, finishing her sentence.
The couple, who have been together for two years, admit they were both stunned at how fast the pregnancy happened once they decided to start trying.
For Zigie, it was an agonising three days home alone in their Auckland rental before she could break the good news to her fiancé, who was on a hunting trip in Martinborough.
"I had a few suspicions, so I took a test, but I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw it was positive!" she shares. "I really wanted to tell Emmett in person, rather than on the phone, so I had to keep it to myself for three days, which was really difficult."
Zigie, who originally hails from the Waikato, was finally able to deliver the good news when she picked Emmett up from the airport, asking him, "Babe, do you have any plans for November 25?"
He replied, "I don't know. That's a long way off. What am I putting in the calendar?"
Physio Zigie is the one getting back rubs these days. "I've trained Emmett up pretty well," she says.
His fiancée's cool, calm response: "Baby's due date."
"She caught me so off guard!" laughs Emmett. "I was not expecting it whatsoever, but I was over the moon. Then worried. Then I calmed my nerves with a few celebratory wines."
Since then, Emmett and his buddy Sam have had plenty of chats about fatherhood on their five-hour drives to and from Napier, where they are working on a property as part of their plan to accrue 50 rental homes by the time they're 50.
And despite suffering some pretty bad morning sickness early on, Zigie's pregnancy is now going smoothly, save for the occasional late-night cravings for Ribena, and the standard aches and pains.
"It's the first time I've had boobs, so I'm loving that!" she jokes. "But after years as a physio, I'm becoming the patient with the sore back. Luckily, I've trained Emmett up pretty well."
To say Emmett's life has changed beyond his wildest dreams since his stint on The Block is no exaggeration. His famously friendly face was soon snapped up by furniture and homeware company Citta, where he began as an HR manager and quickly rose through the ranks to become chief operations officer.
And while he was happy enough getting stuck into side-hustle building projects with best buddy Sam, it was another of their joint passions that led to him meeting his stunning, statuesque fiancée.
"Sam and I were doing a bit of boxing," he tells. "I snapped my Achilles and got referred to a physio. I noticed Zig while I was there getting treatment and we had a good bit of banter, but she was seeing someone at the time. Then after a wee while, I found her on Instagram and flicked her a note. A few months later, when she was single, we got together."
Winning Block buddies Sam and Emmett have hit the jackpot in their personal lives too.
The smitten pair admit they both instantly knew they were going to go the distance, with Emmett telling how his "bubbly, very kind and supportive" fiancée is his dream woman.
"No matter how crazy my project ideas are, she always says, 'Oh, cool!'"
He adds, "Having six nieces and nephews, I'd always wanted to be a dad and when I met Zig, I just knew very early on that I wanted to have kids with her.
"By the time you get to your thirties, there's not much mucking around."
The feeling was mutual for Zigie, who says Emmett's decisive, go-getter nature instantly won her over, as did his rugged good looks.
"I mean, come on, look at him!" she grins.
It was Emmett's trademark decisiveness – and his keen property instincts – that led to the pair snapping up a two-bedroom townhouse in Grey Lynn on the spot in June.
"The beauty with new-builds is that you don't have to have the same equity and you know what you're getting," says Emmett. "I'm not a big fan of auctions where it just spirals out of control."
With such busy lives, Emmett admits he had to plan his surprise proposal to Zigie in August last year with military precision. After whisking her away on a South Island odyssey, he proposed as the couple summited Wanaka's 1578m Roy's Peak following a gruelling three-hour hike.
Unbeknownst to Zigie, she even carried the engagement ring, hidden in a backpack, until Emmett was finally able to pop the question as they overlooked the stunning vista.
There was one slight hiccup, though – the ring wouldn't fit.
"I stole one of her rings for the measurement, but it was from a different finger," chuckles Emmett, who has since had the bling resized. "She tried to jam it on, but it wouldn't go past her knuckle!"
The couple plan to tie the knot at Auckland's Kumeu Valley Estate next May, when their baby boy, whose name they're keeping firmly under wraps, will be five months old.
Already, the earth-toned nursery is filling up with gifts for the new arrival, from books to booties.
Life, they concede, will be very different once their son is here, but they insist that keeping the spark alive in their relationship will be a priority, unlike the usual festive jet-setting.
"We tend to spend Christmases flying everywhere, visiting friends and family," concludes Emmett, "but hopefully this time, they'll all come to u

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