Get used to the words "Tash and Hera" Rotorua - you'll be hearing a lot more of them in the coming weeks.

Local foodie friends Natasha Whitewood and Hera Waitai are one of six pairs to make the final cut of My Kitchen Rules New Zealand - Season 3.

The workmates have a five-year friendship largely established and definitely strengthened through their mutual passion for food, and go into the TVNZ cooking competition under the motto "too blessed to be stressed".

Another thing that binds the Te Whare Wananga o Aotearoa colleagues is their fierce love of, and loyalty to, Rotorua.


Both agree My Kitchen Rules viewers can expect the virtues of the city to be bought up often in front of the nationwide audience.

Tash, sister of Rotorua fashion designer Adrienne Whitewood, credited her Nan as the driver behind her love of food.

"Nan taught Adrienne to sew and me to cook," Tash laughs. "She was involved within the hospitality industry all her life, working in many different cafes and restaurants, including a Middle Eastern place formerly beside the Fat Dog.

"She would bring home hummus, falafel and Moroccan chicken.

"Mum's good friend had an Indian place and she introduced me to curry pastes, cumin and turmeric. I've got Chinese friends, Island friends and Maori whanau - I've been lucky to have been bought up on a varied diet.

"Cereal was never the norm for us, it was more like Korean noodles with a cracked egg."

Hera attributed her food inspiration to her mother and eldest sister.

"I'm the youngest of five and, as my mum and dad both worked [within the tourism industry], it was my sister who did a lot of the cooking at home.


"When I'm in the kitchen seafood is my speciality and Maori kai is my cuisine of choice," Hera said.

"I also love working with anything wild. I'm lucky my fiance and son hunt a lot so I have access to venison and wild pork."

Both described the application process for My Kitchen Rules as like applying for a job and both admitted to being amazed to have made it to the final six contestants.

While "too blessed to be stressed" is their motto, neither are sure how they'll react to the recognition once the show begins to air.

"I'm not sure 'comfortable' is the right word when talking about being in front of a nation and recognised on the street," Tash laughed.

"I'm excited and perhaps a little overwhelmed. I think when you open yourself up publicly you put yourself in a vulnerable space - but Hera and I did this for a reason."


Hera said she was not thinking that far ahead just yet nor did she have any expectations.

"For Tash and I, this is the beginning of a journey, one that not sure where it will take us. But life just goes on and right now, we're just going on."

Tash and Hera hope Rotorua people get behind them as they battle it out to win the MKR title.

"We are both staunchly supportive of Rotorua and hope to be putting it on a platform during the series.

My Kitchen Rules premieres on September 25 at 8pm on TVNZ 2.