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Shorty star’s shock proposal

Jarod’s plucky partner pops the question

Given that his alter ego has lost a daughter to cancer in the same year his wife was released from jail, Shortland Street star Jarod Rawiri is certainly no stranger to personal strife on screen. But when we catch the actor at home in Auckland, where he and his gorgeous fiancée Dolina Wehipeihana are discussing the finer details of their big day, it’s clear that the actor’s real family life couldn’t be happier.

While it’s taken the longtime lovebirds more than a decade to get down the aisle, it isn’t due to a lack of commitment. With four kids to raise and two busy careers, tying the knot was simply never top of the priority list.That is, until a leap year came around in 2012 and Dolina, sick of waiting for her man to get down on one knee, decided to do it herself. ‘I’ll do it!’

“I proposed to Jarod four years ago,” says the event programme manager with a grin, admitting she had only learnt about the concept of February 29 – when, thanks to an old Irish tradition, women are allowed to pop the question – on the day itself.

“We’d been together for almost 10 years and we always knew we wanted to get married – I was just waiting for Jarod to ask me. Then one day, when I was pregnant with our fourth baby, my midwife said to me, ‘You know, it’s a leap day. You could propose to Jarod,’ and I thought, ‘You know what? I will!’”

Giggling, the 39-year-old mother of Tyla, 17, Huia, nine, Iarere, five, and Te Marino, three, continues, “I’d asked him to marry me before that, but he told me to shush and wait. He was away in Wellington at the time and I rang him at 11.30pm. He was at McDonald’s with his mates, so I called him back 15 minutes later. “I was stressing because I had to do it before midnight, and he was biking home in the rain, but I told him I had something important to ask.”

Picking up the story when his partner pauses, Jarod, 36, recalls, “She asked and I thought, ‘Yes, that’s perfect.’ It was the moment it needed to happen and suddenly I was standing there, crying in the rain with my helmet on. It was really special and I’ll never forget it.” The cute couple’s proposal wasn’t conventional – and they say their wedding is shaping up to be similarly non traditional. Instead of a church affair with catering and colour-coordinated bridesmaids, they’ll be doing it picnic-style with an outdoor ceremony that will be as low-key as they are.

Dolina was expecting her fourth child, Te Marino (now three) when she was encouraged by her midwife to propose to Jarod!

Glamping party

“We are going to have our ceremony out on a big paddock,” tells Dolina. “We’ve got glamping tents and the whole bridal party will stay. We’re planning to go down for the whole weekend and just take everything as it comes. In this busy life, we want to take some time out and spend it with our friends and family.”

And there will be no shortage of well-wishers on hand, with the couple’s guest list in the hundreds. “Because we took so long to get married, our lists have just gotten bigger and bigger,” laughs Jarod. While the big day is sure to be one to remember, deep down, the well-matched pair know their love is already rock-solid.

“We’ve been together for so long, we’ve pretty much got it sussed,” says Jarod. “We have a deep understanding and a lot of respect for each other – she knows I’ll always have her back.”

For the love of his life, Jarod considered gifting Dolina with pounamu, but chose a more traditional diamond-set ring.

Dolina adds, “He’s always made me happy. Every time I see him, my heart lifts and I never get sick of him. Sometimes life can have its ups and downs, but every time I’m with this guy, I feel like I can do anything.”

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