Just one day after the Australian Government legalised same sex marriage, Richard Haeata of Te Whānau-a-Apanui proposed to his partner Robert Stewart of the Eora Nation.
“I can’t go down on one knee, but I would love you to marry me if you would have me,” Haeata said.
After 18 years of being together, Stewart said “yeah you know I’m gonna marry you.”
“It needed to happen on my partners own land. It wouldn’t have been right to have taken him back to NZ and get married there."
Australia is the 26th country to legalise same sex marriage after 61.6 per cent voted yes in a nationwide non-binding referendum last month.
“It needed to happen on my partners own land. It wouldn’t have been right to have taken him back to NZ and get married there," Haeata explained.
“For me that was really important as well. You know, to make sure that his family were accepting of the idea but also present when it happened.”
The pair have the big date already locked in for next March and it certainly is looking to be a big affair.
"We both come from big families, we're both old fellas so we know a lot of people," Haeata explained.
The couple met in the year 2000, in a bookstore but it only took them both three days to realise that they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together.
"I was browsing for books and found something in the corner of my eye that was much more interesting... when you know, you just know," Haeata said.
"We are both Indigenous and both came from cultures that were colonised to various degrees. We understand that we have to fight for everything that we’ve got."
Comparing their life to the hit TV show Modern Family, Haeata described himself as lucky for being able to have a rainbow family.
"We have four sons, 19 grandchildren and a really good relationship with everyone in our family. The only thing is I've had to tell the boys to stop because Christmas time is getting too expensive!" Haeata laughed.
"I had always thought I was never going to get a family. I was always openly gay and I was lucky enough to get the privileged to raise the boys and be blessed with."
The biggest 'turn on' for Haeata about Rob was his ‘fierce Aboriginal’ self.
"We are both Indigenous and both came from cultures that were colonised to various degrees. We understand that we have to fight for everything that we’ve got. In NZ it’s the fight for our language, identity and culture. With a white fella I’d have to explain all this, but with Robert, it’s just understood," he told NITV.
"It's people’s ignorance of issues, the simple things like 'your people are the lost generation' - he corrects them saying, 'my people weren’t lost, they knew where they were going; in fact they were stolen'. He’s staunch about the things he believes in and that inspires me, I can relate to that."