In November 2016, a lovely German man by the name of Guido contacted me, hoping to have a Maori experience when he marries his darling Nina in New Zealand, some time (literally) in January 2017. They have, in the past, experienced a great deal of whanaungatanga (kinship) and have a deep respect for Tikanga and Reo Maori and knew they needed this aspect incorporated into their ceremony.
I was very excited by this unique elopement request and quickly responded, expressing my enthusiasm and willingness.
At that stage, their itinerary was unconfirmed, but they’d also hoped that they could get married in Kaikoura. Now this was two weeks after that massive earthquake had hit the region (and the country), so I was hesitant to show much enthusiasm about this aspect of their journey, knowing the extent of the damage.
Furthermore, it then transpired, that I was unavailable to attend their event on the dates that they were to be in the region due to clashes in my Celebrant calendar.
Alternatively, and very regretfully, I gave them the names and addresses of Celebrants who were based in Kaikoura, in the hopes that their dream elopement location would still be a reality for them.
A week later, they came back to me advising that although Kaikoura would have been the ultimate location, they felt a great deal of happy feelings with the service I had provided them so far, and decided that they would take a drive up north, so that I could marry them anyway! I was stunned! At that point, I was nicknamed “Roseipulator” because of my awesome manipulation skills, making them feel good enough about me to chase my services :p
Fast forward 2 months, January 19th. Guido touches base with me – it’s a Thursday. He advises that they will be close by for 7 or 8 days, but hoped to get married the following Tuesday (January 24th) or Wednesday (January 25th). This meant that we had to confirm our ceremony location by 4:30pm the following day, in order to get our marriage documents back by the time they left the region. No pressure 😎
Another unfortunate, personal complication in their little family meant that we had to find a location in between New Plymouth, where I was based, and Whanganui, where they were based. I had been declined access to one of the Marae on my side of Taranaki, so was hopeful at the prospect of gaining a green light from a Marae in Patea, which is where we decided to meet.
Unfortunately, both Marae I approached could not help me in my mission to have a Marae wedding for this lovely couple. We literally had 45 hours to secure an alternative location, after realising that our outdoor location, advised on the Marriage Licence was also not going to be suitable due to bad weather.
I advised the couple to meet me at Aotea Utanganui – the Museum of South Taranaki, when we all had a light bulb moment. Let’s ask the museum if we can get married on their premises! I’ll be honest, I wasn’t hopeful. I’d been defeated by three potential venues thus far and was dreading another decline.
Monday afternoon, I ballsed up and called the South Taranaki District council with my proposal, who then transferred me to Cath, the manager of the museum. She thought this was an exciting prospect, and with permission from the museum’s curator, Cameron, we had our new location! Just in the nick of time!!!
Wednesday was rainy, more so in North Taranaki than South Taranaki. But, we all know that rain is positive and cleansing, so we made good connotations out of the rainy day.
I arrived at the Museum of South Taranaki in my gumboots, with no make up on, doning my sunglasses (yup, in the dark) and hat so that I could hide my unprofessional appearance. I entered the museum and noticed Cameron’s name badge immediately. I introduced myself and thanked him and his team profusely for what they are doing for us and then excused myself so that I could prepare my face in anticipation of their arrival. They’d beat me there.
We had big, relieved cuddles and got to know each other before I toddled off to put my face and heels on. Cameron advised us to choose anywhere in the museum to perform the ceremony, so we chose a beautiful corner beautifully decorated with Tukutuku Panels, in the main foyer of the museum. It seriously couldn’t have been any better than this.
So here we were, after two months of discussion, and 6 days of serious planning and major stressing, we had made it to this gorgeous, cultural elopement ceremony. Guido and Nina stood before me with their divine 7 month old, Polly – witnesses Pascale and Steven at the ready, and Cameron & Louisa, another friend, on photos duty.
I started with a mihi and karakia; did all of the ‘legal’ stuff and ended with a gorgeous te reo reading, which gave the couple goosebumps. The other staff member was sitting at the front desk, watching with tears in her eyes. It was wonderful!
We took some very fun and love-filled photos afterwards and said some pretty heartfelt goodbyes to the staff at the museum, before popping down the road, to the Red Rock Cafe for more catch ups and laughs.
Then, ugh, OUR dreadful goodbye reared it’s ugly head :'(
It was so sad, we’d just met in person and had this wonderful ceremony, only to be ripped from each others lives so soon.
As I drove home, the massive feeling of accomplishment I felt overwhelmed me as I smiled and laughed, reflecting upon the journey that was. I’m so pleased and honoured to have been on this journey with Guido and Nina, so relieved that we actually pulled this off in such a short amount of time and so greatful that we have our photos, as a constant reminder of the adventure that was.
I genuinely believe that the universe insisted on us all getting together to share in this amazing moment. For every moment spent with them, I am extremely thankful!