Life on The Block NZ hasn't been an easy ride for Amy Moore after a shock cheating scandal saw her and partner Stu Watts hit with a whopping $5000 fine.
The pair had an electrician on site after hours and when the broken rule was revealed last week, the pressure of the competition became all too much for the Gisborne beautician, 39, who had a dramatic panic attack and was forced to take a day off site to recover.
But as Amy arrives at our photo shoot, reunited with her beautiful daughter Nina after four weeks apart, she's grinning from ear to ear, with no tears in sight.
"We have a really close relationship," Amy tells as she wraps an arm around her 12-year-old. "We're both a bit quirky and very similar. We love going away together on girls' trips and road trips, just the two of us – that's the best."
This is only the third time she has been able to see her girl since filming started because of the gruelling schedule. "It's really tough being away from your child," confesses Amy, who tries to make time to talk to Nina on the phone every day.
"I'm not the most maternal person in the world, but many women say that until they have a baby of their own. I've been missing Nina a lot."
Amy was married for eight years before separating from Nina's father, who coincidently is also named Stu. "We call him Trial Stu," laughs Amy. Pointing to her new love of two years, her Block teammate Stu, 46, she jokes, "This is Stu Number Two!"
Amy is happy to talk about her former husband, saying she wants to show others that it's possible to have positive relationships in blended families.
"We have shared care days, but we've got a really good relationship and are actually really great friends," she explains. "I've been able to talk to Nina lots on the phone, but also I check in with her dad and stepmum."
It's her amicable ex who helped make Amy's decision to leave her daughter behind and come on the reality renovation series that little bit easier.
"We've got heaps of support back home," she enthuses. "She's with her dad, he's got a partner and they've had a baby, plus my parents are there, so she's got loads of family. It's Gizzy – everyone chips in."
Nina adds proudly, "My stepmum Jess has already voted for Amy and Stu to win the People's Choice Award."
Although she misses her mother, it's clear that Nina couldn't be happier watching her show off her design skills on The Block. She smiles, "I don't miss her as much when I see her on TV. I'm just really happy for Mum because she's always really wanted to go on the show."
Nina became Amy's secret weapon when they had to design an interactive children's game for one of the challenges. At her daughter's suggestion, Amy and Stu made a giant Jenga tower, taking out the bonus point. The pair then went on to win for their children's bedroom, which Amy says gave her a "real buzz" as the only mother on the show.
"Nina's really creative and arty like me," boasts Amy. But when it comes to following in Mum's footsteps and signing up for The Block when she's older, the answer is a firm no, followed by a laugh.
"Mum, don't forget you have to do up mine and Zoe's room next!" she grins, referring to Stu's 10-year-old daughter who bunks down with Nina when the family are all together.
Although the cheating scandal was "tough to take" and left her "mentally exhausted", Amy says her daughter will always be her biggest supporter.
"We came here on the show to make the experience really worthwhile. Back home, the family will be super-proud of us no matter what happens."
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