New Zealand is infamous for its two degrees of separation.
And if you ever needed proof, this Survivor NZ tale of reunion is it.
Old mates from Howick College Matt Hancock and Dave Lipanovic bumped into each other in Thailand — neither realising the other was a contestant on the show, which starts on TVNZ2 next Sunday.
“When I first saw Matt in Thailand we did the classic hand-shake thing and started telling fibs about how we were both away for work,” Lipanovic, 26, tells Spy.
“Then we realised that we were both on the show. It was crazy. We started freaking out because if other contestants saw us have this conversation, and knew we were friends, we’d have a massive target on our backs from the outset. We didn’t know what to do. It was a terrible start to the Survivor experience.”
The pair last saw each other at Hancock’s birthday three weeks before filming started. They hadn’t been in touch for a few years because Hancock, a technician for Rocket Lab, had been travelling overseas.
“I initially thought it was just a random coincidence that Dave was in Thailand at the same time,” Hancock, 25, says. “We very quickly realised we were both on Survivor which made my brain explode. I was already overwhelmed by the situation and processing that Dave, one of my best mates, is on Survivor as well, seemed ridiculous.”
The friends became close playing rugby together at school.
Whether the long-standing friendship can withstand the show’s rigours remains to be seen.
It’s an advantage, says Hancock, having someone you can trust. “On the other, it’s a massive disadvantage because it could create massive moral dilemmas if we end up on opposite alliances making it harder to play the game, as I’d find it extremely difficult to vote my mate out.”
Lipanovic describes it as “both a blessing and a curse”.
“When is the right time, if ever, to reveal our friendship to the other contestants?” he adds.