The second New Zealand televised love story for 2021 begins as the first one concludes on air, with another two Northlanders bravely wearing their hearts on their sleeves in front of the nation.
The Bachelor New Zealand, starring Sol3 Mio musician and Flava radio announcer Moses MacKay, premiers on March 2, the day after TVNZ 2's finale of The Bachelorette. The show will have 18 contestants from around the country vying for 30-year-old MacKay's heart.
The line-up includes Dargaville paediatric nurse Freya Puharich and Whangārei Girls' High School PE and health teacher Georgia Miller.
While Puharich, 26, spends most of her time caring for children, she said she is looking for a partner who isn't afraid of a little hard work themselves.
"I've been very, very single and have been for a little while now so I was looking to find a spark with someone while on an amazing adventure. I have been on plenty of dates and have had one serious long-term relationship – I was engaged!" she added.
After breaking off the engagement, Puharich said she had a clear idea of what she wants from a relationship and it was all about finding a driven, compassionate and respectful man who doesn't take life too seriously.
Fellow contestant Miller, 24, doesn't like to take herself too seriously but that doesn't mean she isn't serious about finding love. She described her perfect man as family-orientated, funny, motivated and adventurous.
She said friends had signed her up for the show and, after she got through, thought, "Why not?" She has been in one long-term relationship lasting five years.
Baritone singer MacKay is swapping his mic for a rose by taking on the role as The Bachelor. Known by day as part of Flava's breakfast radio line-up, by night he's part of Sol3 Mio. Singing alongside his cousins, the trio perform classical, opera and pop music with a playful wit and frequent nods to their Samoan heritage.
After years of jet-setting, a transient lifestyle and focusing on others, MacKay says now is the perfect time to take on the experience of embarking on his quest for love and build deep relationships.
"Being a musician, being an artist, you're always travelling around the world, you're always living a very peculiar life – not your typical. I've been in a serious relationship and coming out of it, for a long time, I didn't think I was ready to step into the realm of dating and being vulnerable. And then this happened to come up, while I'm home, busy doing different types of stuff here in New Zealand, and c'est la vie. Life's about journeys, life's about experiences, and this is just another one."
He said his mother was initially opposed the idea "out of worry, as mothers do".
"I've always looked after the family rather than looking after myself, so my mum saw it as a chance to put myself first and hopefully find my person. All my friends just laughed at the thought and egged me to go on so they could watch me and laugh with me."
MacKay, who took part in 2019's Celebrity Treasure Island, said he has no expectations but he is looking for a partner with the type of energy "when they walk into the room, you can feel their heart smiling and you just know!".
The 18 contestants include a nutritionist, finance analyst, personal trainer, real estate agent, self-love coach, police officer, solicitor, forensic research scientist and marriage celebrant.
Aotearoa's first ever successful bachelor, Art Green, who along with wife Matilda and son Milo are expecting baby number two, will be back in the hosting seat.
When asked the advice he gave MacKay, Green responded: "I said, 'you're in for one of the most unique experiences of your life - go have some fun!'
"I was most excited to just be part of the whole adventure again. It really is a cool experience for everyone involved. Both series are New Zealand-based, allowing us to explore our own backyard."
One of the locations which surprised Green was an adventure park in Queenstown called Oxbow, which he described as "out of this world" and said he'd like to return to.
TVNZ 2 has a strong line-up of upcoming reality-based content this year including Popstars and Celebrity Treasure Island following back-to-back The Bachelorette and The Bachelor.
A TVNZ spokesperson said: "TVNZ 2 has a variety of upcoming local content this year, from favourites Wellington Paranormal, Police Ten 7 to new local dramas Vegas and Creamerie and reality shows like Popstars and Celebrity Treasure Island.
"Currently viewers are able to watch Lexie's journey as The Bachelorette, and we're excited that, following the finale, people can keep the love alive with The Bachelor New Zealand kicking off the next evening!"
The Bachelor New Zealand will premiere on TVNZ 2, March 2 at 7:30pm and will be a multi-night journey airing Monday – Wednesday.