It was the night that changed Sarah and Martyn Giles’ lives forever. The emotions of the past three years came flooding back for the married couple of 15 years, who were announced as the winning team on the reality-TV series Mitre 10 Dream Home, at the live finale last week.
Standing outside their new home in Kaiapoi, Christchurch, where they had poured blood, sweat and tears into DIY for the past 10 weeks, Sarah and Martyn said that winning a mortgage-free home signalled a new beginning for them and their six kids: Isaac (13), Xavier (10), Bailey (7), Rhys (6), Chevalyn (6) Janaya (3).
“This is just pure euphoria,” said Sarah of the result, tearing up, while at the same time squealing with laughter.
“I just feel weightless – it’s like the pressure of the past three years has lifted off me,” she added, hands shaking, before being engulfed in a sea of hugs from family and friends, all dressed in orange.
The dramatic end to the DIY show saw Jay Blair and Amanda Fail on Team Black fleeing the set in tears after the results were announced, and Sarah and Martyn on Team Orange booed on the stage at one point, by passionate supporters for their opponents. But all of the controversy went over Martyn’s head, as he stood on the stage frozen and unable to speak, while friends and family shouted their congratulations.
“I was in shock and did get emotional – it was just the build up of everything, thinking about everyone that helped us achieve our dream. It got a bit too much for me,” says Martyn.
“We’re just finally able to move forward as a family after the earthquake, we’re not stuck in limbo-land. It’s unbelievable to be able to do that.”
Host Simon Barnett admits he became close to both teams on the show, and found it very difficult to hold it together for the big reveal. But his favourite moment of the whole night came after the announcement, when he went for a walk through Sarah and Martyn’s new home.
“I went upstairs in their house, and there was Isaac sitting in his new room with tears in his eyes. That moment made it all worthwhile,” says Simon.
Sarah and Martyn are known for their kind, caring nature – and foster four of their six kids. The couple say they can’t thank New Zealand enough for supporting them on the show. When the family move out of their earthquake-ravaged home in Wainoni in the next four weeks, the couple have decided to pass on their good fortune to a family friend, by letting them stay at their old home rent free,
“So many people have helped us, we really want to pay it forward,” says Martyn.
“We discussed it with family friends, who can’t afford to build or buy a house, so we’re letting them stay until they have enough money to move on,” says Martyn, who adds that he and Sarah still make mortgage payments on their under-insured Wainoni home, which is virtually impossible to sell.
The show has also allowed signwriter Martyn to express his artistic side. He has now been commissioned for three pieces of artwork, and says it’s his first small step to making his passion his livelihood.
“It’s always been in the back of my mind to do more artwork. It’s a long-term goal of mine,” says Martyn.
The Giles family’s elation was matched by utter heartbreak for Jay Blair and Amanda Fail on Team Black, whose loss in the finale was determined 30% by judges on their DIY ability, and 70% by public vote.
While Jay graciously congratulated Team Orange with a boisterous clap, and said how proud she was of her family while choking back tears, Amanda clung to Jay. When the cameras stopped rolling, a devastated Amanda fled the stage sobbing, before retreating to their new home. Amanda’s daughter, Summer (8), was also inconsolable.
In a surprise twist to the live final, both Team Black and Team Orange bid on their homes in the live auction, and although Jay and Amanda were not named the winners, they bought their brand new five bedroom home for $375,000 – $125,000 under asking price, and also walked away with a new car, and $50,000 in prize money.
After the dust had settled, Jay and Amanda explained their experience of the night.
“We were gutted not to win our home mortgage free, but still so grateful to be given that kick-start from TVNZ. Owning a home is beyond our wildest dreams and we’ve done it,” Jay and Amanda tell the Weekly.
“The kids didn’t quite understand what was happening at the end, so all Amanda wanted to do was comfort them. Now, they’re just asking when they can get into the house.”
After a rollercoaster few days, Sarah can’t wait to start her new life. “Knowing that we have somewhere the kids can be safe, and we can focus on them and not a silly broken house is amazing,” says Sarah.
“We’ve got this beautiful house now – we can go out and enjoy life.”
Photos: Jae Frew • Styling: Julie Vernon and Angela Stone • Hair & make-up: Cheryl Fowler. Sarah wears TS14/martyn wears barkers/all children wear pumpkin patch