Marama was eliminated last night in the first shock dance off. Before that, she sat down with the Woman's Weekly to talk about her time on the show and the driving force behind her decision to sign up.
Dancing with the Stars has never seen a contestant like Marama Fox. Patu and poi in hand, the former Maori party co-leader is bringing a unique flavour to the reality show, evident by her stunning culturally influenced Viennese waltz, and it's one she is fiercely proud to represent.
In Marama's words, she's "the biggest girl on the show", but as a mother of nine children, nothing much phases the former politician and she is in it to win it! In part because of the good she could do for a little known charity in Gisborne, Ka Pai Kaiti.
"I'm so excited for them!" she says, buzzing. "They don't get funding but they know their community and their people. They have a community garden which feeds their kids, they do suicide prevention, help people overcome addiction and they have the elderly in for cups of tea. Whatever their community needs, that's what they're doing."
But perhaps a reason closer to home is to sustain and improve her health after losing a whopping 93kg since 2014! "And that's why I'm okay with being the biggest girl on the show because I lost all that weight. I had bariatric surgery in 2014 before I went into Parliament. I did that to save my life, basically so I could be around longer for my kids and my grandkids because I was completely overweight," she recalls.
"Each time I had babies, I would start from a bigger place. And I'd lose weight and then get pregnant."
Marama (47) jokes that she won't be caught dead in the slinky dresses some contestants are wearing, though, due to the "scaffolding" hidden beneath her clothes.
"I have body issues and it's not because I'm not proud of getting to where I am. But there's lots of leftover bits and skin. I don't mind plunging necklines and skinny straps, but that's never going to be me because nobody wants to see my back wings on DWTS or my wrinkly thighs!" she laughs.
Staying safe after two elimination rounds – "I cried my eyelashes off in the first one!" – Marama says the cast is becoming like family, making it hard to say goodbye, especially to newfound friend Gilda Kirkpatrick.
"I've got to know Gilda and she is the loveliest person, so generous of spirit and a hard case. And she loves gangster rap!" says Marama.
But there is one participant in particular that Marama was happy to see join her on the dance floor. None other than former colleague and fellow politician David Seymour! It may come as a surprise to hear the pair already have a good friendship outside of the dance studio − as Marama puts it "he's one of my peeps".
"David and I used to sit next to each other at Parliament! I made it my goal to be his friend when I got into Parliament because he was 'Nigel-no-mates' since he was a party of one," she tells.
"But we started this thing called Treaty To You, because he has Maori ancestry but he's never really grown up knowing anything in-depth about Maori culture. So I would meet with him when I could and he would ask me questions about Maori life and culture so that he could understand it better, and I'd ask him questions about economics. And then I'd quickly forget everything he said because I don't agree with his policy!" she cackles loudly.
"But we have been good friends for a long time and our banter is off the hook. Politicians thrive on banter − for me, arguing around the dinner table is a good night out."
This trait, some could argue, puts her in good stead to receive criticism from the judges. However, she admits she's found their comments "confusing" at times.
"They say to some contestants, never mind about your technique, you need to bring the enjoyment to your face. And then they say to me, never mind your face, you need to work on your technique! It's a learning curve for all of us," she sighs. She's not shied away from bringing a little controversy to the show either with her much-younger partner Brad Coleman.
"He's 22!" she exclaims. "I have four sons older than him! When they were asking what do you want in a dance partner, I said, 'Well, as long as he's not a skinny white boy, I'll be good.' And everyone called me racist! But no, I'm a big brown girl, I'm going to need me a big, burly Polynesian to pick me up and throw me around!
"I said to Brad, 'You're never going to be able to pick me up!' And he said, 'You don't know how strong I am,' then he showed me his abs. That made me feel like a blinking cougar," she laughs.
"We would practise every day for four hours, but I would have to remind him I needed a rest from time to time – this is the first exercise I've done in 10 years!"
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