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"If these boring hippies make it past the first week, I'm not watching anymore," I shouted at my husband during the first episode of My Kitchen Rules New Zealand.

That was 10 weeks ago. Guess what? They made it to the final - and won. Guess what else? I watched every bloody episode.

MKR NZ got off to a slow and lumbering start, stalling as the first round of competitors sat in heavy, awkward silence alongside the judges, who were equally stilted and uncomfortable.

You could almost feel the director, hidden off-camera, coaxing them along and coaching them to speak in soundbites.


The result was a contrived and clunking first episode that came perilously close to being deleted from the series link.

Read more: Interview with MKR winners

Last night's finalists, Neena and Belinda, were the first competitors to cook in week one and spent the whole time bleating about foraging for herbs and cooking.

You might think that seems reasonable, being a cooking show, but you'd be wrong.

The MKR format is not about cooking. It's about drama. It's about the sadistic pleasure viewers take in watching teams collapse under pressure, fight with their partners and bitch about other teams behind their backs.

As the first week got under way, it became clear the producers (the same team behind MasterChef New Zealand) had failed to grasp the true nature of the show or find contestants to suit.

They were all so dull! They simpered around the table and made polite chit chat. There were no snide put downs or personality clashes. No kitchen calamities.

But slowly, it gathered pace. Personalities emerged.

The know-it-all Social Media Buddies turned out not to know anything. The Christchurch Cuties went into meltdown any time they were asked to cook anything that wasn't chicken.

Before I knew it, we'd reached the finals. And suddenly, miraculously, people who had barely managed to cook pizza two weeks ago were whipping up restaurant-quality culinary delights.

Last night's final saw the hippies face off against the Polynesian Cooks, Aaron and Heather. Serving up a five-course feast that "can change your life", as judge Ben Bayly was keen to stress.

It was a battle of Pacific culture versus healing nourishment. Boil-up versus wild weed harissa.

The judges were torn.

Aaron and Heather's trio of oysters elicited squeals of delight and a toast. It was an extravaganza! A fiesta!

The next course had everyone raving about Neena and Belinda's stuffed zucchini flowers.

By the third course, it was neck and neck. The boil-up left the judges feeling warm and fuzzy, while the salmon was cooked to perfection.

As we entered the final half-hour, questions abounded. Who would be victorious? Whose dessert would be the best?

And what happened to that weird white cutlery that looked like a plastic picnic set but was undoubtedly some fancy designer kit?

After distracting viewers for the entire season (I've lost count of how many office debates it sparked), this week it suddenly vanished, to be replaced by ye olde faithful stainless steel.

And therein lies the difference -- and ultimate failing -- between the original MKR series and its Kiwi counterpart; the cutlery was the most controversial thing about it.

The Menus:

Team 1: Aaron and Heather

Course 1: Oysters three ways

Course 2: Seafood risotto

Course 3: Boil-up

Course 4: Sous-vide quarter chicken

Course 5: Te Pai Remene [lemon pie]

Team 2: Neena and Belinda
Course 1: Marinated scallops
Course 2: Haloumi stuffed zucchini flowers with peperonata
Course 3: Manuka smoked salmon
Course 4: Spiced pomegranate lamb
Course 5: Passion on a Plate

Final score:

Aaron and Heather: 51/60

Neena and Belinda: 52/60