They're dancing for charity - and a fee.

The Herald can reveal contestants on Dancing with the Stars are paid to appear on Three's flagship reality TV show.

Two confirmed they donated their appearance fees to their chosen charity. Three others said they kept their fee to pay for expenses.

The remaining seven contestants either did not want to say or could not be contacted.


It's understood one contestant receives about $1500 per appearance on the show, but neither broadcaster Mediaworks nor contestants spoken to, except ACT MP David Seymour, would confirm how much they were paid to appear on the show.

Seymour said he received a weekly appearance fee of "between $1000 and $2000".

"It's about the average Auckland salary."

The MP wouldn't be more specific, but said he donated his appearance fee to his chosen charity, Kidsline.

Gilda Kirkpatrick - the first contestant voted off the show - said she also donated her fee to her charity, the Starship Foundation.

The Real Housewives of Auckland star said she didn't think she was allowed to say how much she was paid to be on Dancing with the Stars.

But she said she was paid for four weeks' rehearsals before the show, as well as a retainer after her elimination and until the finale, when ousted contestants will return, again being paid an appearance fee.

"When you put it together it's a good amount [of money] ... it is hard work [taking part] and it's a good number, but I joined because I wanted to bring awareness to [the foundation] and the amazing job they do."

She understood why others might not have been able to donate their appearance fees, Kirkpatrick said.

"I'm in a position to do that."

Fellow reality TV star Naz Khanjani, who was runner-up on the second season of The Bachelor NZ, didn't want to say whether she kept her own appearance fee, or how much it was.

"I don't like talking about pay and stuff."

After being eliminated three weeks into the show she had contacted her charity, Make-A-Wish, to offer her support for future fundraising efforts.

"I said 'please let me know if there's any more I can do for you guys', because I felt so bad."

Now she's signed up to abseil down a "massive" Queen St building for a Make-A-Wish fundraiser in November — a terrifying prospect for someone afraid of heights since falling from a second-storey balcony aged 4.

She suffered a fractured skull, two broken arms and was blind for two months, Khanjani said.

"I almost died ... I've been traumatised since then about heights, but it's for charity so I just said 'why not?' If I pass out ... at least I know I'm hooked on to something and I'm safe."

Naz Khanjani, and her Dancing with the Stars partner, Tim Mullayanov, before they were eliminated. Photo / Supplied
Naz Khanjani, and her Dancing with the Stars partner, Tim Mullayanov, before they were eliminated. Photo / Supplied

Former MP Marama Fox said appearance fees varied from week to week.

"The rehearsal week was different to the dancers and different to the stars. During the performance week there's another fee and once you're voted off they keep you under contract to reappear at the finale."

The Māori Party co-leader wouldn't say what she was paid.

"I don't mind for myself, but other people are also receiving that money and I don't want to disclose their financial information just by disclosing mine."

She hadn't yet invoiced Mediaworks but would be doing so, Fox said.

She needed the money to pay for housing and transport while living in Auckland for the show.

"I'd love to be able to donate my fee to my charity but that's not something I'm in a position to do."

The Bachelor NZ star Zac Franich said the fee varied from person to person.

He kept his.

"There's a lot of time taken out and you're ... away from work a little bit. [It's] to pay the bills ... it certainly wasn't done to gain any kind of financial benefit."

He wanted to learn to dance but also to challenge himself, and by doing that, encourage those struggling with mental health. His charity was Live More Awesome.

"If I could put myself out there ... if that could maybe inspire others to be brave in their own right, whether that looks like talking to someone or approaching a health professional, then that was the main motivator for me."

Dancing with the Stars contestant Jess Quinn has avoided elimination in the reality TV show so far. Photo / Supplied
Dancing with the Stars contestant Jess Quinn has avoided elimination in the reality TV show so far. Photo / Supplied

Jess Quinn's manager, Brooke Howard-Smith, said in a statement Quinn was rehearsing full time and spent up to eight hours every day on Dancing with the Stars.

"Although I can't disclose her fee is it significantly less than she'd be earning away from the show. Although Jess won't be donating her fee to the Child Cancer Foundation (she needs it to eat!), she is incredibly proud of the work she does for Child Cancer and other charities throughout the year."

Suzy Cato, Shavaughn Ruakere, Sam Hayes, Roger Farrelly, Robert Rakete and Chris Harris couldn't be contacted.

Telco waives its DWTS text-to-vote cut

Telco 2degrees is waiving its cut from each 99c text-to-vote the public makes for Dancing with the Stars' remaining contestants.

The move - aimed at boosting how much contestants' chosen charities receive - began last weekend, 2degrees spokeswoman Katherine Cornish said.

Contestants in the Three reality TV show battle to avoid elimination each week, with the outcome decided in a 50/50 split between judges' scores and audience text votes.

However, it's not clear how much of the 99c for each text vote contestants' charities ultimately receive.

Three's owner MediaWorks said net proceeds from the text-to-vote mechanism go to the contestants' nominated charities.

"MediaWorks does not retain any money from the text votes. Costs are deducted for the independent text-to-vote and auditing services," spokeswoman Annabelle White said.

"We can't speak on behalf of the telecommunication companies which deduct service provider charges from the cost of voting. Given this is for charity, we feel [that] as much of the proceeds as possible should go to the wonderful causes supported by the show."

The service is managed by Auckland company Connexus, which could not be contacted.

Connexus has a separate agreement with the telcos.

Vodafone spokeswoman Meera Kaushik said: "All retail pricing is set by MediaWorks, not Vodafone, as part of their set up for DWTS."

Spark New Zealand spokeswoman Lydia Tebbutt said Spark didn't take any cut from text campaigns run by registered charitable trusts.