MAFS NZ: Experts John Aiken, Jo Robertson promise 'there is love' in new season

After five years away from our screens, Married at First Sight New Zealand is back.

Eight people will give love a shot in the newest season of the reality TV juggernaut, with each of the contestants prepared to put their hearts on the line.

Relationship expert John Aiken is back to call out any toxic behaviour, with esteemed therapist Jo Robertson joining him for the first time as a fellow expert.

When Newshub asks who is the "good cop, bad cop" of the partnership, both laugh.

"I actually think they thought that the goal was that I would be really nurturing," Robertson said. "The ying to John's yang.

"I think they thought he would be rough, and I would be nurturing and sweet, and I promptly said, 'I think you got the wrong person, because I'm really comfortable in some high conflict situations'.

"To be honest, I thrive in a crisis, so I'm perfectly fine saying hard things and having hard conversations."

"We both called out that bad behaviour," Aiken added.

"I held a mirror up and said, 'do better'. It's good when it comes from, you know, two different voices. There were times where we had to really give some hard truths to some of the participants."

Robertson told Newshub when she was first approached to be part of the show, she was kept largely in the dark about potentially working with Aiken.

"They wouldn't tell me! Then I got a call from an Australian phone number and picked it up and it was John saying: 'We're going to get to know each other.' It was easy from that point on. It was great. We really enjoy each other's company; we really respect each other's skills.

Two of the hopefuls smiling - but will they be smiling when the experiment begins?
Two of the hopefuls smiling - but will they be smiling when the experiment begins? Photo credit: Warner Bros Discovery

"We were very intuitive on the show. We leaned on each other, talked about who might be best to take certain conversations because we have slightly different strengths. It was easy, it was really fluid."

While their working relationship on screen may thrive, both are aware of the Australian show's track record in conflict and drama may be front of mind for many viewers.

Admitting the New Zealand iteration of the show still has its moments of conflict, Aiken said overall it was refreshingly different from the Australian version, which has seen incidents of revenge porn, shocking confessions and physical conflict in recent years.

"The New Zealand version brought out a little bit of humour. It's got heart. It's got this sense of playfulness in it as well, which probably people haven't seen as much of that before in the past in the Australian version."

"When people watch, if they see someone make a mistake, it's really easy to throw judgment out and to maybe put some hate on them on social media," Robertson concurs.

MAFS Australia's contestants have widely been targeted on social media.
MAFS Australia's contestants have widely been targeted on social media. Photo credit: Supplied

"I would love for people to just take a pause and go, 'Here's a person who's done an incredibly brave thing, going on a TV show and talk about their feelings and talk about their relationships in the past and where they've gone wrong'.

"So even if you see them make mistakes on the show, please be very kind to them because they were all essentially really wonderful people who gave something a go."

"While you're always going to get some drama on Married at First Sight, there is love here," Aiken proudly beams.

"That's something that I'm pretty excited for people to see now because viewers are always watching thinking: 'Can two strangers really fall in love?' That's something that I think is exciting about this New Zealand version."

"I was really curious to see how they were different. And whether their issues would be the same as the ones that I've been seeing over in Australia."

But Robertson admits it was the male participants of the show who "really impressed" her.

"They really went there and they gave themselves over to the experience. I thought that we were going to have a had a job of pulling their emotions out. What we maybe had a slightly had a job of was not their emotions, but pulling out their thoughts. New Zealanders might be a bit more reserved - they might not want to say as much. We tried to encourage them to really speak their minds, but in the end, their emotions flowed pretty easily."

When asked about who of the cast may have become the experts' favourites, both are coy to reply, with Aiken telling Newshub: "They all come with their own unique strengths and limitations."

Robertson adds: "I really liked this group of people. I was expecting a lot more facades but they were a great, really great group.

"I would say to everybody - be prepared for something quite different."

Married at First Sight New Zealand begins airing on ThreeNow and Three from Sunday, May 26.