Survivor NZ: Nate’s very public rugby wedding revealed

Now the wife of the burly cop with the big voice is singing his praises.

Palmerston North senior cop Nathan “Nate” Davis, aka The Singing Detective, won fans around the world when he belted out his own special version of Earth Wind and Fire’s September for an Easter road awareness video earlier this year.

But the 46-year-old Survivor NZ contestant, who was the 12th contestant to be voted off the Nicaraguan jungle, had already developed a taste for the limelight. On October 3, 2003, he married his wife Julie at Wellington Regional Stadium (now known as the Westpac Stadium), live on TV!

“Leo the Lion, the Wellington Lions mascot, was the ring bearer and we managed to talk the Mayor of Wellington into officiating,” recalls Nate as his wife Julie (44) smiles at the memory.

“We had our ‘do’ in the corporate box and the All Blacks captain at the time, Tama Umaga, popped in to say hello.”

The unusual nuptials were featured on the Holmes show after the lovebirds won the wedding as part of a competition to find the most committed Crusaders fan.

“It was Jules’ idea,” tells dad-of-two Nate. “She wrote a poem and sent a picture of my Crusaders tattoo – and we won! We had just 10 days to organise the wedding. And then we honeymooned in Sydney and watched the game. It was a good laugh.”

It was love at first sight for the couple, who met in October 1997 when they both signed up for a charity ball organised by the Red Cross called Desperate and Dateless. At the time, Nate was a 26-year-old police recruit and Julie worked at a telecommunications company.

“I knew when I met her she was pretty special,” tells Nate. Adds Julie, “He was pretty fit – a man in uniform. It was hard to say no. A few weeks later, I said, ‘I might as well move in with you!’”

Thirteen years after their unusual wedding, Julie once again persuaded Nate to enter a life-changing competition – Survivor.

“I’m always gonna back my man and I thought he’d be bloody good at it,” says the business administrator with a cheeky grin. “I especially love the top two inches of him – the way he thinks things through, the way he thinks in general. Mentally, he’s the toughest of anyone I know.”

Nate and his family were delighted when he was plucked from among the 8000 hopefuls to become a contender.

“I don’t see any failure in not achieving – I see failure in not trying,” tells Nate, famed for wearing his purple and white bandanna on the TV2 reality show, filmed over 40 days in the Nicaraguan jungle. “As far as entering competitions goes, somebody’s gotta win. Why not me? Why not you?”

Despite missing his family “more than I thought possible”, Nate, a keen hunter, loved his time on the show and says he wasn’t bothered by the meagre rations of rice and beans.

“I found it interesting that the younger ones who weren’t carrying as much weight actually struggled more than I did,” tells the burly policeman.

“Even when Avi won the chocolate, I wasn’t tempted. I wanted to know if there was palm oil in it and we didn’t know, so I declined.”

The couple and their sports-mad sons, aged 12 and 14, live in Palmerston North with their pampered 52kg bull mastiff Poppy, who enjoys a diet of venison and sleeps on a cot mattress. And big-hearted Nate is so fond of our four-legged friends that he’s currently in the process of volunteering for the SPCA.

“Even though I’m incredibly busy, I’ve got a really good life and I’m blessed. I want to pay it forward – whether it’s cleaning out cages or walking dogs.”

Nate’s job as a senior sergeant means the family has moved around the country, from Kawakawa to Waikanae Beach – gaining lots of good friends along the way.

“If our boys are happy, then we are happy,” he insists. “And I’m blessed to be so supported by my family. The police can be a tough job. You need a solid home base that is supportive and loving.”

That theory has been tested recently, as Nate’s currently subject to an internal inquiry after laying “vexatious” charges against an ex-colleague. He also hit the headlines when he was criticised by a judge for the “improper” prosecution of a respected businessman, who was recently acquitted of assault charges.

With barely a spare moment between them, the Davis clan still finds time for family activities – from walking Poppy to starring in local musicals – with Nate once bagging the lead role in his theatre group’s version of Seussical, the musical based on Dr Seuss.

“That was a family affair,” says Nate. “I was Horton the Elephant, Jules was in the ensemble, and the boys were a flying eagle and a monkey. It was great fun and something we can all look back on and say, ‘Man, that was cool!’”

His tuneful baritone famously led to the viral video clip for Central District Police, which got 650,000 views.

“That was crazy!” says Nate. “We thought it might get 15 views. It just went nuts. I was interviewed by Australian media. My mum was on holiday over there and she turned on the TV and there I was.”

Proud mum Lorraine (70), who cut a record when she was a teenager, might well be the reason for Nate’s attitude to life and his ability to sing.

“Mum always talks about being in the front row of life,” he tells. “If you’re not on stage, you should at least be in the front row!

“Survivor was an amazing experience,” he continues, “but honestly, it’s just one thing out of a series of really cool things that have happened to me and Jules. From how we met, to how we got married, to moving around the country, life is never dull. I see it like a book and we might as well fill it up with interesting things!”

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