Alburta and Tina: New Zealand's 1,000th Civil Union
By Matt Akersten
5th October 2007 - 01:27 pm
On average, there's been more than one same-sex union ceremony each day somewhere in NZ since Civil Unions were introduced in April 2005 - and when South Aucklanders Alburta Gibson, 29, and Tina Pitman, 36, 'tied the knot' recently, their nuptials were Aotearoa's Civil Union number 1,000.
|Tina and Alburta|
Tina tells us that the couple first met seven years ago, while working together at McDonalds in Papakura. "As soon as I met her, I was attracted to her - her personality was infectious," she explains.
"We were both in relationships, she with a female, I with a male. She was the first female I had ever been with - this was my first attraction for the female kind. But I knew she was the one."
Alburta proposed, and got an instant 'yes'. "My family were all good about it, as a couple of my cousins and aunty are gay," says Tina.
"They said as long as we are happy it was all good for them. But Alburta's parents still do not know yet that we are married. They are pretty strict Jehovah's witnesses. They know that she is in a lesbian relationship, but I'm sure they will be all happy for her and I. Her parents and most of her family are living overseas in Fiji, and with all the stuff that is happening there, we have to decide on the right time to tell them."
The couple's ceremony took place at the Quest Hotel on Nelson Street, central Auckland, on the 22nd of September 2007 - their three-year anniversay of living together.
Tina says her partner planned everything two months earlier. "I didn't have a clue, I just thought it was going to be a night in the city at a hotel clubbing in the city and all that, for our 3rd anniversary.
|Cutting the cake|
"A few of our close friends that were all invited knew all about the civil union - even my two children knew about it. My boss and work mate who are my really good friends organised the wedding dress, table arrangements, makeup, photos and videoing of the wedding and heaps of other things. They did it all while I was working. I thought my boss was organising her cousin's wedding, because she's always organising events for her family, so I thought nothing of it. Man it was an awesome surprise."
When the couple arrived at the hotel, Alberta revealed that someone was coming down the elevator to take Tina to a hotel room, without her, and then said: "today is our wedding day".
"I was in such shock I started crying," Tina smiles. "When the elevator opened it was my boss and my friends. All I could remember was that I was swearing at them for not telling meand crying at the same time.
"When I got to the hotel room, it was so pretty and the wedding dress and jewellery were all on the bed waiting for me. It was an awesome ceremony. My partner looked as white as a ghost and felt like fainting. I just felt like crying. By the time the ceremony ended, we were both so relieved and happy. I just wish that we could do it all over again.
Only the couple's close friends were with them. Tina's family were not there as Alburta couldn't get in touch with them at short notice: "My family had no idea we were getting civil unioned. When I finally told them they were all happy for us both - we will be having another ceremony with all our family and friends there in November," Tina explains.
|With celebrant Gill Court|
"Now that we are finally married we both feel more together than we were before, and happier now it's all official."
Tina says their Civil Union was "the second happiest night of our lives. The first was when we both got together."
The couple are planning to honeymoon in Fiji this summer and see Alburta's family there.
Finding your soul mate can sometimes be a difficult search but not an impossible one, Tina now reflects. "When it happens, the chemistry is dynamic, the feelings intense and then you know - this is it! This is the one.
"Our search is over, and it was time to say to each other in front of the people important to us 'you are the one'. This union says 'I want to be with you forever and this is our ultimate commitment to each other'.
"For when you love someone, you love the whole person, just as she is and not as you would like her to be," says Tina. "Don't ever try to change each other, because if you do, you will lose exactly what you fell in love with. So, each day try to find one more thing that is beautiful in your mate and each day know that the next day will be more beautiful than the one before. As long as you are doing this you can't go wrong.
"You are each other's best friend and each other's greatest love."
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