Best mates Ethan and Sam share the story behind how they became friends and offer a sneak peek of their homes
Mates who build together, stay together – at least that’s the case for The Block NZ‘s Ethan Ordish and Sam Whatarangi! The hilarious duo have been friends since they met at Te Kuiti High School when they were teenagers, and bonded over their love of woodwork.
“He was a little short fella – a cheeky fella,” laughs Sam. Adds Ethan, “Well, I’m only going to say this once, but Sam was a bit of a pretty boy and all the girls used to love him!”
And while there’s plenty of laughter when Woman’s Day chats to the pair, Ethan, 26, reveals just how Sam came to mean so much to him. “This one time, a guy decided to have a fight with me and I don’t know why,” he recalls. “But Sam stepped in and stood up for me, and ever since then, I thought, ‘You’re the man!’ It was an interesting time and it was cool having someone stick up for me. So it was ‘Yeah, let’s be friends.'”
Ethan and Partner Mia in their Hamilton home.
Their appearance on the hit Three show is not the first time they’ve hammered together. Whether it’s building a friend’s deck, a coffee table or even a church in Fiji, there’s little Ethan and Sam, 27, haven’t turned their tools to. And so, when Ethan called Sam to say he was putting them forward for the DIY series, there was no question he was keen – but both were surprised when they made it on to our TV screens.
They’ve quickly become the “nice guys” with viewers and contestants alike. “Yeah, I’m trying not to brag or anything, but I guess we are the good guys,” Ethan smiles. “But we do like to have a bit of fun and be a bit naughty. We were always getting in trouble from the camera people, which is quite funny.”
Ethan and Mia’s home style.
It comes as no surprise that their cheekiness often involves good deeds, such as disappearing to buy food and coffee for the builders who can’t take a break and not telling anyone where they
But while they both enjoy the experience, it hasn’t been without difficulty for the tradies, who say that friends and family have high expectations for them. After all, Sam is a joiner and Ethan is a – very recently – qualified builder. “On the show, I am an apprentice builder, but this literally changed in the last couple of weeks,” Ethan says with pride. “It was a bit of a hard journey, though.
“I stressed myself out so much trying to do my best at work and impress the bosses, trying to learn everything before going home and reading and studying most nights. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve done.” But despite their talents, they haven’t won the hearts of judges Jason Bonham and Lizzie Whaley, who repeatedly score them poorly.
“The bro and I love our work and our builders do too,” asserts Sam. “We can top you in the building department but when it comes to the styling, we’re not so sharp, so all of our scores aren’t that good. It’s a bit embarrassing for us as tradies.”
Sam and partner Ellen in their Te Kuiti home.
While they’ve received many messages suggesting they use sites like Pinterest (they already are), it’s been a big mind shift for the pair. “You walk into a room and there’s a bed and a few pillows – what more do you need?” laughs Ethan. “We are very minimalistic. That’s the word Sammy likes to use.”
“Less is more!” his partner in crime agrees. They admit to working up to 21 hours for four days in a row on the show, but back at home, they are no strangers to hard yards either. Ethan, who lives with his partner Mia Broad, 25, in Hamilton and often works seven days a week, has a special reason to win The Block. “Any money will go to our new baby and trying to get a deposit for a house,” says the excited father-to-be.
Sam and Ellen’s home style.
Down the line, Sam, who has purchased a home in Te Kuiti, lives with his partner Ellen Stevenson, 23. His day begins at 6.30am, when he cooks himself “four eggs on two toasts” for breakfast before going to work. Afterwards, he has rugby practice for a local team or cooks Ellen a dinner of macaroni, nachos or steak and broccoli – lots of it.
Sam’s busy saving to buy more homes in order to build up a passive income so he can relax, travel with Ellen and spend more time hunting, fishing and diving. But he already has plans for any money he may win from the show. “I’ve always wanted to help my mum get into a house because she’s worked hard her whole life and she’s still renting,” he says of the woman who raised him on her own.
“But if there was heaps of money, maybe I’d buy a Harley Davidson!”
Words by: Marilynn Mclachlan. Photography by: Robert Trathen.