My Kitchen Rules contestants Tash and Hera may be out of the competition, but the Rotorua friends say they're immensely proud of their time on the reality series, and that they're stoked with the point of difference they brought to the table.
"Regardless of the result, we put our best foot forward," says Hera. "If it wasn't good enough in their eyes, for us, we're still proud of what we did."
The duo, who are best friends and work together, prefer to call themselves "home cooks" as opposed to chefs. Their love for cooking comes from their whanau, and they say they pulled on the strengths they learnt from their family throughout the competition.
"The reason why we are here is because of our friends and whanau," says Tash. "What we believe in is home-cooked kai, cooked with aroha. So I guess in our behaviour and how we were on [Monday's] episode, we really were plating up our hearts... that's why we went into this show and that's who we represented on the show as well - our whanau and our friends."
when the season debuted in September after some allegedly racist comments against Teal, who is originally from Cambodia, during one of the first dinner parties. Tash and Hera say that particular dinner party was edited to inflate certain out-of-context comments, and that it was different from their memory of it.
"What was edited out was a lot of the good korero that went around," says Hera. "What they missed was that Teal was actually in on the conversation, so before those comments came out, there was a lot of context before and after.
"There were a lot of comments about us being Māori, and the land wars, and the Treaty of Waitangi, but they didn't focus in on that stuff. So as a contestant sitting around that table, I don't think it was racist at all; it was never intended like that from any of the teams, and I know Teal deep down in his heart, he knows this and he's even said that he knows this."
Though their time on MKR NZ is over, we may not have seen the last of Tash and Hera. The duo say they're keen to pursue more opportunities through their love of cooking, and hope to share that with New Zealand.
"We work very well together as a team, and we're both extremely driven," says Tash. "We want to pursue any opportunities that come our way in platforms beyond the show... Specifically around kai, cause it's a love and passion of both of ours.
"We have a passion and love our kai and even if we weren't doing the show, we still would have pursued these opportunities, because it's what we believe in - upskilling our rangatahi (youth), upskilling our people," says Hera. "We're just proud Māori women who have been given an opportunity. We're really proud."