Whangarei teacher, power-lifter and plus-sized model Hannah was eliminated from Survivor New Zealand last night after losing to Tony during the Redemption Island challenge.

But what wasn't shown on screen was that while isolated from her team, Hannah suffered a nasty, stomach-churning affliction. And it affected her performance in her final challenge.

"I actually had a bug crawl into my ear, and I ended up with a massive ear infection," she says.

"I had spent the whole night vomiting. [I] had an ear infection and I had no balance, I was dehydrated, I hadn't slept ... As soon as I saw the challenge my heart sank a little bit because I was like, 'This is going to be rough for me'."


Tony managed to smash all four tiles before Hannah, meaning he will remain on Redemption Island, awaiting the next eliminated contestant.

Tony and Hannah were both voted out by their tribe Mogoton, and Hannah says his arrival was "a bit awkward at first" - especially when she discovered the reason she was voted off.

"We had this really awesome heart-to-heart where Tony basically said to me, 'I was wrong,' and he cried.

"He said, 'Someone came to me and said Hannah's too big, she's not going to help us win challenges, she's going to slow us down so we need to get rid of her.'

"When he said that to me it made me so angry, so angry. But I thought, at the end of the day he's learnt that you can't judge a book by its cover, so I think we sort of bonded over it."

Hannah's elimination put her tribe's stereotypical views around bodies under scrutiny, and a groundswell of viewer support lead to Hannah being labelled as a "damn treasure for body positivity."

She says her tribe's decision was evidence of society's stone-age views on what constitutes a healthy body type - which was hit further home last night by Tauranga student Michael championing his female Hermosa tribemates for their "awesome" and "super skinny" bodies.

"That made my blood boil. Just - no," says Hannah.

"You don't have to look a certain way to be beautiful; you're not defined by what you look like on the outside. Just because somebody weighs 20 more kilos doesn't really make them any less beautiful to somebody else."

Though gutted to be eliminated, Hannah says the experience of Survivor was "life-changing," and that it's motivated her to be more vocal about body positivity and fat-shaming.

Despite her tribe's decision, she says she still supports Mogoton - but pauses before deciding who she wants to win.

"I think Barb is definitely underestimated. I feel like I can relate to Barb because she's getting the same 'book by its cover' judgment based on her age, like I had judged on weight. I think that people are underestimating her.

Hannah says Hermosa's Barb (right) is underestimated. Photo / Scott McAulay
Hannah says Hermosa's Barb (right) is underestimated. Photo / Scott McAulay

"I also had this really awesome connection with Avi... I think he has what it takes to win.

"I'm torn. Team Barb, Team Avi. Can they both win?"