faves Jay & Sarah 'FAME ALMOST DESTROYED US'
Woman’s Day Magazine NZ|January 31, 2022
As they introduce their new addition, the high school sweethearts reveal how their family was nearly torn apart
Hayley Barnett

When My Kitchen Rules NZ fan favorites Jay Wanakore and Sarah Wanakore-Chase welcomed their fifth child, gorgeous little girl Avaani, five months ago, they say their whānau finally felt complete.

But while it may seem like a fairytale happy ending for the Kiwi reality stars, the couple reveals it hasn't been all smooth sailing since they made their TV debut in 2015.

"After MKR, things became really toxic between us," Jay, 31, admits to Woman's Day: “We got so bad that we were done. Sarah wanted to separate and tried to kick me out a few times."

The Auckland pair spent years successfully building their brand after the show aired, with their very own cookbook, further TV appearances, and a strong social media game, but it was far from fun, with self-confessed workaholic Jay “hustling hard" to carve out a carefully curated niche as a foodie family on a mission to lead healthier lives.

“I was trying to build the dream that I thought we both wanted, but I didn't realize I was compromising our time together," confesses Jay, who is of Waikato and Ngāti Maniapoto descent. “That created a lot of resentment between us. We would go out into the public and put on happy faces, but behind it, all was a lot of stress and unhappiness."

In the background, while Jay was moulding their family into a brand, Sarah was struggling to play along. “I didn't want to be a part of it," the 31-year-old tells. “The image was the priority in his eyes, but I don't like faking who I am and I felt like I was expected to be someone else. Jay had to learn a hard lesson. What he thought was the priority wasn't all that important in the end."

Together for 15 years, the high school sweethearts had three gorgeous children - Aiyana, now 13, Aizaya, 10, and seven-year-old Arkiya - at the time, with Sarah doing her best to hold down the fort and make sure everyone was happy.

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