It’s a case of three degrees of separation, where often a lot of The Weekend Sun’s stories start.
One conversation overheard by a staff member and next minute I knew the mother of someone my flatmate likes to describe as a ‘true Kiwi babe’.
That ‘true Kiwi babe’ is Shayna Maunder. And if you love to watch a bit of trashy TV on your down time, she may have become a friendly-face in your home.
The 28-year-old dental assistant from Tauranga took on the challenge of becoming one of the first contestants on TVNZ’s ‘Heartbreak Island’.
Imagine a foot shaped island with 16 single Kiwi’s pairing up and doing random challenges all for a $100,000 cash prize – oh, and love. That’s ‘Heartbreak Island’.
Although Shayna didn’t win, she definitely was a strong competitor, winning almost all of the challenges with her partner Stacy Smyth.
“I signed up because why not! Who doesn’t want to win $100,000 and a Suzuki Swift and return flights to LA – that was literally my pushing point.”
Shayna had a few friends who kept tagging her in some posts about entering. “But it wasn’t until I came home one night from happy hour and had a few drinks and I was tagged in it again, that I was like ‘fine, I’ll do this’ and then I applied and away we went.”
The first person she told was her mum, Debbie Kirk – Sun Media’s smiling receptionist. And Debbie gushed telling me all about it in a proud motherly way.
“She called me up to tell me the news and said ‘How would you feel about me being on reality TV?’. I said, ‘That sounds amazing, as long as it’s not Married at First Sight!’ She laughed and said, ‘No, but it’s pretty close,” says Debbie.
“At the start she was worried about how she would be portrayed on TV, but looking at it now the way they portrayed her is very her – just Shayna being Shayna.”
Shayna says the days filming weren’t too long, one day a week they had a challenge that would start at 8.30am, and another night they would do recoupling, elimination, and then they would end a week of filming with a fun activity.
Her favourite challenges were the slingshot challenge and the obstacle course challenges, which she smashed.
She says she had no strategy going into any of the competitions and surprised herself how well she did.
“It’s been such a stroke to my ego and apparently I’m good at random stuff – who would have thought?
“I think it’s because me and Stacy work so well together and we had this weird connection, so I guess everything we did worked out, and obviously I wanted to do my best for myself and for him as well.
“I’m really proud of myself at how well I did at challenges – I just went for it and I got a free holiday and met some really cool people.”
She says since the competition has ended she has kept in touch with Kelsey Odell, Gennady Sharpe and Weiting Shyu, Stacy Smyth, Izaak Ryan, and Julius Bennett. She’s even gone on holiday again with some of them.
“It’s just been a blast and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.”