Two years in the making: Tiki Taane's epic marriage proposal

''I wanted to go massive and say, 'Here you go babe, this is how much I love you' – bang!''

By Cloe Willetts
It was an epic surprise two years in the making. Singing sensation Tiki Taane had found the woman he wanted to marry, decided to propose and knew it had to be big!
In his usual up-tempo style, the lyrical activist wrote and produced a song about his soulmate Rachel Axis, and called it "Serendipity". Then, to add to a dreamy six-year love story, he popped the question while filming the music video for his romantic track.
"I wanted to go massive and say, 'Here you go babe, this is how much I love you' – bang!" laughs the Papamoa-based dad of son Charlie, 10, and stepdaughter Karcia, eight. "Rach knew I'd written Serendipity, but she had no idea I'd been planning this video proposal."
Christchurch-born Tiki – who first saw the brunette beauty in a friend's photo – involved their kids in the occasion. "I secretly arranged for my mum to pick them up from school the day before, and we ran through it about six times. They did a great job of not telling her!"
Tattooed model Rachel welled up when Tiki, 42, took her hands in a Mount Maunganui studio on August 3, and said, "Firstly, I want to apologise for taking so long to do this." She thought he meant the song.
With kids Karcia (left) and Charlie along with pup Theia.
Tiki told her he wanted the moment to be special and captured with their kids so they could look back on it.
"I want to spend the rest of my life with you," Tiki continued, instructing Charlie to open the ring box, before dropping to his knee.
Then he asked his "queen" to marry him, presenting Rachel – whose father is Greek – with a large sparkler made from her mum's old engagement rings. Engraved on either side was a meandros, a Greek symbol of eternity.
"There were tears and a bit of swearing from Rach, which I had to edit out," laughs the musician, producer and sound engineer. "She said yes straight away, and there was cheering and champagne. It was really beautiful."
Days later, the smitten couple are still buzzing. "Rach is the happiest I've ever seen her," says the ex-Salmonella Dub member, best known
for chart-toppers including "Always on My Mind".
She said yes! Image: Supplied
Five years ago, when the loved-up pair met face-to-face in Rarotonga, they'd already been talking over the phone for five months.
"I found out she was single through our mutual friend Nikki 'Needles' Campbell, a tattooist, and left a couple of little messages on her Facebook, in a non-creepy way," jokes Tiki, who was a solo dad to Charlie, then four.
Rachel, whose daughter Karcia was two when they got together, liked that Tiki was respectful. He was interested in hearing about her plans to study social work, which she's now in the final stages of completing.
Rachel explains, "He told me he worked with youth and it was like talking to a male version of myself. We just clicked."
The pair chatted for hours almost every night after putting the kids to bed, sharing their love of music, passion for helping others and experiences overcoming drug abuse.
Tiki – who was part of Auckland City Council's recent campaign Buzzed, which highlights drug and alcohol harm – heard how Rachel overcame a methamphetamine addiction. She wanted to use her experience to help others, having suffered post traumatic stress syndrome after sexual abuse as a teen.
"As well as being a total knock-out, I liked that Rach was quick-witted and intelligent, with similar social, political and environmental interests," enthuses Tiki, who works with charities including Paw Justice and Starship Foundation. "She has a strong point of view and was really outspoken. I was blown away."
Tiki calls their island meeting in November 2013 "serendipitous" – or a chance encounter.
"I wish everyone could find their Tiki," says his happy fiancee.
"She texted me really excited saying she'd won a trip with her best friend to Rarotonga through a radio station," recounts the muso, whose proposal music video is available on his YouTube channel. "It turned out the date fell at the exact time I was there playing with Shapeshifter!"
When Rachel arrived, Tiki asked Shapeshifter member Paora Apera, aka P Digsss, to go with him to meet her as he was nervous. "But within two hours, I had her on the back of my scooter racing around the island!" he laughs.
For three years, the couple did long distance, flying between Papamoa and Christchurch where Rachel lived.
"When the kids met, they got along perfectly, without any drama, and now they're like best friends," grins Tiki, who hopes to eventually marry Rachel in the tranquil Coromandel, close to their Papamoa home, before honeymooning in Greece.
Rachel is excited to marry her best friend. "He lights me up when we're together and coming up six years, there's not any dullness," she smiles. "I still pinch myself some days and wish that everyone could find their Tiki."

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