So far in my dancing diaries I have described my own thoughts and feelings about the whole experience, but this week I thought I would take a look at how my dance partner Natasha Whitewood is finding it.

Here is what she had to say:

"To be honest, outside of supporting an amazing kaupapa, I never really knew what to expect. Knowing you are going to be ballroom dancing in front of strangers isn't necessarily an opportunity you jump at daily.

"I remember our mentors Tania Tapsell and Paul Hickey [who were dancers in the event's first year] saying at our first meeting 'it seems awkward now with you not knowing each other but doing this you really do become family'.


"Well, we are now at the halfway point in our training and this is how my journey is going. I'm completely out of my comfort zone, having a blast and making time to show up to trainings along with everyone else.

"I've been partnered with a person who balances me, ensures we are on track and who is not only a friend but whānau. We laugh when we get our steps right, but even more so when we don't and every week we get closer to our goal together.

"I see the sacrifice our instructors Troy, Shelley and Glen make when they work their butts off teaching us, as well as the families who willingly give their time when they bring their partners and kids to practices.

"Nicola, Paul and Tania turn up to trainings, as busy as they are, purely for support and I love that on top of our schedules we still manage to have team get-togethers.

"We all have lives, we all get frustrated when we don't get our steps straight away, yet we all show up and support each other. I feel so incredibly blessed to be learning and growing alongside everybody else on this journey and proud to say that we really are whānau."

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