The big day is here - it is now legal for same-sex couples to
And there are many lining up to finally tie the knot, with
almost 1000 marriage forms downloaded, four couples racing to
be the very first and 31 ceremonies around the country.
One of the first same-sex couples to be married in New
Zealand arrived to a huge welcome at the Unitarian Church in
Ponsonby this morning.
Tash Vitali, 37, and Mel Ray, 29, arrived at the church about
8.15am where a large, colorful crowd had gathered.
Reverend Dr Matt Tittle, who will conduct the ceremony, said
it was an honour.
"It's history in the making and hopefully it will help other
countries to do the same and help New Zealanders to realise
that everyone has worth and dignity no matter who they
Labour MP Louisa Wall, who was responsible for the bill that
legalised same-sex marriage, read the poem Touched By An
Angel by Maya Angelou while Ms Ray and Ms Vitali waited.
Meanwhile, in the foyer of Rotorua Museum this morning, two
couples are being married.
Jess Ivess and Rachel Briscoe from the Bay of Islands and
Richard Rawstorn and Richard Andrew from Christchurch arrived
in a white limousine to be married in front of about 100
Just a few people arrived at the Department of Internal
Affairs early this morning, in downtown Auckland, to pick up
their marriage licenses.
An Australian couple who only wanted to be identified as
Sarah and Emma cheered and clapped as they were given their
The couple, in their twenties, hugged as others congratulated
The pair will marry in Auckland this afternoon. They said
they could not speak to media until after that, as an
Australian television show was covering their big day.
However, Emma said it was a wonderful acknowledgment of the
gay community to be able to marry.
"It's nice to be attached to something very special," she
Others in line were representatives from the ZM radio station
and Air NZ, who picked up licenses for ceremonies scheduled
Another couple, from the US, were the first gay couple
married in the Department offices at 9am.
They declined to be interviewed, but said it was a privilege
to be able to get married in another country.
"We just found this to be our best option...I never thought
we would be here in New Zealand, but it's nice."
From the main centres, Auckland, Manukau, Christchurch and
from Rotorua, Births, Deaths and Marriages has received 31
In addition, the Government agency says 977 marriage forms
were downloaded from its website last week, three times as
many as normal.
Auckland couple Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau will marry on
a flight between Queenstown and Auckland, with gay star of
the US TV show Modern Family, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, in
attendance. Ferguson yesterday said he couldn't quite
articulate what it meant to marry his husband, Justin Mikita,
who is with him in New Zealand. The couple married last month
in New York.
"I don't know how to put it into words, it was such a
profound moment ... I never even dreamed of calling someone
my husband before ... so to stand in front of someone that I
love so much with my family, my whole family and his whole
family, present and to take those sacred vows that up until
not too long ago I only reserved for same-sex couples, it was
beyond anything I could have even dreamed of."
Ferguson, 37, has launched his own campaign, "Tie the Knot".
"I'm thrilled that there are so many people here in New
Zealand who are so excited about marriage equality and also
asking the question, 'Why has it taken this long?' So I think
with each extra step it becomes more of a normality and it
becomes less of an unknown."