Fancy escaping your partner for a short time? The catch is, you'll have to live with someone else's — and their kids as well.

This Thursday TVNZ 2 will premiere Wife Swap NZ, a social experiment peeking into Kiwi households.

First up Lei and Jackie Miao, a couple originally from China and now living in West Auckland, will "trade" with Emma and Paul Somerfield — childhood sweethearts from East Auckland. Emma joins Jackie and three children Liwen 12, Jessie 9, and 3-year-old Jackson; Lei will briefly shack up with Paul and two boys, Blake, 18, and Liam, 15.

All the signs are that this was a swap that went well — Emma said she learnt about how other families live and their relationships.


"Playing mum to two little girls was such an insight to different ways of parenting children, as I have two boys. Jackie showed me so much about their culture, the generosity and the amazing food. Once I got back home, I appreciated my family all that much more after seeing how the other half live."

The change was good for Lei too: "I thought my family worked hard, but through the show I learnt lots of Kiwis work hard as well. After this swap, I will probably do a bit more housework so my husband can rest. I'm really lucky to have met him.

"I also realised that to be a good parent we can't over-control our kids — and that teenagers can be really good and polite."

Overseas versions of the show have created some fireworks between mismatched swaps, so expect the same to come here. During the coming weeks a single mum, eco-evangelists, gay champion dog-breeders, blended families and deeply religious households will all play swapsies.

- by Ricardo Simich