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Mayor bowled over by proposal

Nelson mayor Rachel Reese is flaunting her very own One Ring, albeit diamond instead of gold, after her partner Richard Harden proposed to her.

Reese and Harden, a former professional English cricketer, have been together for 10 years after meeting at a 1920s murder- mystery themed cold-start party in Nelson. Coincidentally, Reese’s character that night was Harden’s wife, and just over a decade later that’s becoming a reality. Reese said the couple had talked about marriage in the past, but now felt like “the right time”.

Her son Thomas Reese, 27, was over from Australia and her daughter Sophie Reese, 25, was up from Queenstown, joining the couple and Harden’s son Joel, 17, to celebrate over the weekend.

“It was really nice for everyone to be together. “It was a surprise for them, Richard proposed late last week, which was very lovely, so I had to keep it secret for a few days.” She said the proposal was “very romantic”. “That’s all I’m going to say about it, it was very lovely, he did make me cry, so that was very lovely.”

engagement rings nelson gigatown mayor Rachel Reese


Harden, who operates a business as a financial adviser, managed Reese’s mayoralty campaign last year, something he had been very supportive of, she said. “We both respect each other enormously and I think that’s really important in a relationship,” she said. “I don’t underestimate the impact of my role on our personal life, it’s significant, and I think it’s a wonderful thing for me to live with someone who supports me in what I do and I support him.”

She said the demands on her time had increased significantly as mayor, but the couple made sure they set aside time for each other. This year had been particularly “full on”, but they had managed it well. “lt [the role] certainly isn’t something that you can just dismiss as irrelevant to the relationship you have with the person you live with. “You’ve got to be honest and upfront about the commitment of the role so that the person that’s making the choice about whether they want to spend the rest of their life knows the situation.” Reese said after their 10 years together she was just enjoying being engaged.

Having a custom-made Jens Hansen engagement ring on her finger was adding to the enjoyment, she said. “It was really important to me that if we were going to have a ring it had to be by a Nelson jeweller. Reese said although the couple had a lot of “banter” at home, they were taking marriage seriously. “No one takes a step towards marriage lightly, and we shouldn’t. “It’s a really important step and we both respect what it means and we respect each other. “We’ll enjoy this quite novel period of being engaged. It’s the first time I’ve been engaged.” She said there was no date set for the wedding yet. “Even if I did know, I don’t think I’d tell you,” she laughed. 

The Nelson Mail
Nov 21 2014