There were no arguments, no expletives exchanged, no chucking of toys or stomping off to dressings rooms.

Instead, after Sunday night's dramatic live finale of The Block NZ, jilted runner-ups Stace Cottrill and Yanita McLeay did one simple thing.

"We just hugged each other," says Yanita McLeay. "And then we hung out".

Stace and Yanita in a publicity photo for The Block NZ.
Stace and Yanita in a publicity photo for The Block NZ.

It's been four days since the controversial end to the sixth season of Three's renovation show left Cottrill and McLeay dismayed, barely able to talk and close to tears.


McLeay, 29, and her Palmerston North bestie Stace Cottrill, 39, were thought to have won after claiming $20,000 more than reserve during Sunday's live auction.

But a last minute decision saw competing team Nate and Andy return for a second auction after failing to sell their home at the first.

They scored $31,000 over reserve, taking out the show's $100,000 prize and leaving Stace and Yanita visibly shocked.

Host Mark Richardson has called the incident "one of the most difficult moments I've ever been associated with".

The Block NZ's contestants before Sunday night's dramatic finale.
The Block NZ's contestants before Sunday night's dramatic finale.

During their first interview since Sunday night's auction, Cottrill agreed, telling the Herald the incident was "worse" than their "worst case scenario".

"The live auction was a total rollercoaster," she said. "You just can't prepare yourself. You think maybe the worst case scenario is the properties don't sell.

"But even worse than that would probably be thinking that you might win - and then you don't."

Despite Nate and Andy's last-minute return shocking viewers and causing a flurry of debate about whether it should be allowed, McLeay said they knew it was always a possibility.


"We know that that can happen at an auction ... It did happen. Absolutely it's fair that they won."

In a previous interview, Nate and Andy called the win "bittersweet" and told the Herald their winnings wouldn't be enough to share with fellow competitors.

Nate and Andy talk about how they felt topping The Block and what they will and will not do with their winnings

"Unfortunately we probably haven't won enough to share anything, as there's not much in it for us," said Nate.

McLeay's response? "We understand it completely," she says. "They've got families and mortgages. By the time they split up the money it's not actually a lot.

"They are the winners, it's their money, we don't expect anything from them."

And if the roles were reversed?

"We'd be feeling just like Nate and Andy do," says Cottrill. "We'd be feeling bad for everyone ...

"We're just (gutted) that they can't celebrate it because they're feeling bad for everyone else. That's a real shame. They should be able to celebrate."

Throughout the interview, the pair were bubbly and enthusiastic, their mood in stark contrast to their emotional state during Sunday' night's finale.

"We definitely feel we've had time to think over what happened and we're in a much better place now," said McLeay.

Stace and Yanita's finished dining room on The Block NZ.
Stace and Yanita's finished dining room on The Block NZ.

They described the show's 12-week renovation process as "one crazy wild ride".

"We're just really happy to be at this end of it and have a moment to deconstruct the whole thing and we're feeling really grateful for the whole experience," Cottrill.

McLeay: "We've kept perspective. There are other bigger things happening in the world that are worse than losing at an auction, you know?

"We've kept our heads on and our feet on the ground."

Stace and Yanita's finished bathroom on The Block NZ.
Stace and Yanita's finished bathroom on The Block NZ.

They said their $20,000 winnings would "only just pay off our credit cards" but they hoped to use any leftovers to create a social enterprise for youth.

As for that Givealittle page set up to help them out after their narrow loss, they'll be donating all proceeds to charity.

And despite many thinking that Sunday night's finale might have caused rifts between the show's four teams, McLeay says that's far from the case.

"We bonded over it actually. It may have been a little bit of a sombre night, but it definitely knitted us all a lot closer together."

Read more:

Surprise second auction nets win for Andy and Nate

Social media lashes out at two attempts to sell winning Block house

The Block NZ 'reflects market': REINZ boss unsurprised by result

The Block villain Julia speaks out on being stood down from the show

Why The Block's mystery bidder is causing a stir

Slave labour: Block stars worked for just 48 cents an hour

Mark Richardson: 'We are not a charity, we're a reality TV show'