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'I Am Marriage Dunedin'

Dunedin City Council
Media Release
For Immediate Release

'I Am Marriage Dunedin'

Why would an Auckland-based actor and a Wellington-based lawyer want to marry in Dunedin - and on a Thursday afternoon?

(Dunedin, 22 December 2005) "Because Dunedin is indeed a city of romance - and has been so, in my family for over a hundred years," says May-Ana Tirikatene-Sullivan.

"As for me, I regard this city as home: my family lives here and Otago University is where my father, two brothers, Rob and Jamie and sister Jeannie and I gained our degrees," says husband-to-be, Gregor McLennan. Gregor lived in Dunedin from ages 12 to 24 years and attended Otago Boys' High School (1983-87) and the University of Otago (1988-1992).

"To begin with, May-Ana and I met on the 'I am Dunedin' campaign - where the character I played was trying so desperately to get to Dunedin! She acted as an Air Steward. It was love at first sight, believe me!" said Gregor. May-Ana is a criminal lawyer who has worked as an international fashion model in Paris and Sydney and gained a BA with First Class Honours and LLB Degrees.

The Dunedin City Council and creative team auditioned over 100 actors for the key roles of its five TVCs. The 'I am Dunedin' television commercials were filmed at the Wellington International Airport. Gregor was recommended by one of the team for his acting ability and for his lineage with Dunedin. Altogether three others were in the running for the Council's key role of Sam.

"We also chose Dunedin because May-Ana's family is identified with Otago, through her grandfather, the late Hon. Sir Eruera Tirikatene, which is why we are marrying on 5 January - his birthday."

"This means that May-Ana also descends from the earliest landowners of Otakou. Motoitoi, daughter of Chief Kahuti who, with Taiaroa and Potiki, were signatories to the Deed of Sale of Otakou; and her husband, Captain Richard Driver," points out Gregor. The Deed is dated 31 July 1844.

"Richard Driver and Motoitoi's was an historical romance," rejoins May-Ana: Captain Richard Driver and his men were investigating suitable land in the area and hove to on Chief Kahuti's coastal territory. Seen as illegal poachers, Kahuti's men dispatched the lot and were about to dispatch Richard Driver. However, they decided that, as he was obviously the captain, they would take him to their chief.

"The Rev. Belmer writes, of the unique meeting and marriage of Driver and Motoitoi, in 1839 that "Driver was carried to the chief, and his life hung in balance until Motoitoi, the chief's daughter threw her father's cloak around the prisoner and claimed him. "It was not only love at first sight, but life instead of death for him. They had three daughters, Maria, Emma and Mary. I descend from Emma," says May-Ana.

"At our wedding, which will be at St Pauls Cathedral at 4.00pm on Thursday 5 January, Dean David Rice will be officiating," says May-Ana. "I will place one of Sir Eruera's prized kakahu kiwi cloaks on Gregor's shoulders, to signify the beginning of our life together."

"We both flew down to visit Gregor's parents, Ross and Geraldine McLennan, and were looking around for an appropriate place for our wedding ceremony - and my attention was taken by St. Paul's. Inside, we met this most personable young man who seemed to know the cathedral well. When I asked, "Who's in charge here?" he said, "I am - I am the Dean." So we attended the Sunday service and that really clinched it for me!" said May-Ana. Not only was Dean David Rice's service brilliant, scripturally and intellectually, but also as I saw and heard the choir, I thought of Sir Eruera who was a member of the Christchurch Cathedral Boy's Choir. So enthusiastic was he that he used to ride his horse from Kaiapoi to the Cathedral to attend practices!"

"The 'I am Dunedin' campaign was filmed in late June, and we will marry seven months later - but each of us know deep in our spirit that our romance will last forever," said Gregor. "I've been in California while May-Ana was busy in the various courts in Wellington. Then when I returned, May-Ana was taking a case to the Privy Council in London, among the last NZ cases to be heard by the Law Lords," said Gregor.

"She is back in New Zealand, I am rehearsing for 'The Dinner' to commence in Wellington after the wedding in January. But, despite our schedules, thanks to this high-tech age, we've been in constant communication," said Gregor.

"All well-wishers will be welcome to attend St Pauls for our happy day!" says Gregor. May-Ana rejoins, "Rev. Bremmer wrote of Richard Driver that 'it is doubtful whether any pioneer has more Otago-born descendants...." They are all welcome to attend St Pauls. Furthermore, Mum had so many supporters from this province. To them I say, 'Haere mai. Naumai ki a Hato Paora! Our parents would be pleased to welcome them at the door!" added a smiling May-Ana.

The couples' parents are Ross McLennan, former Chief Superintendent of Police and District Commander of the Otago region; and previously, Legal Advisor to three former Commissioners of Police. Geraldine McLennan has been a University of Otago staff member since 1990. The McLennan's are residents of Dunedin. May-Ana's Wellington-based parents are The Hon. Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, ONZ, and former MP for Southern Maori, and Dr Denis Sullivan, Astrophysicist, of Victoria University.

The wedding takes place on Thursday 5 January 2006 at 4.00pm St Pauls Cathedral, the Octagon Dunedin. May-Ana and Gregor will be in Dunedin on 23 December 2005 and will be in the City.

May-Ana and Gregor invite the media to join them on their special day. However, it is their wish that you refrain from taking photographs inside the church, but are very happy for you to record moments of this special event after the ceremony. At approx 4.45pm the newly weds will appear with Gregor dressed in the kakahu kiwi cloak placed on his shoulders by May-Ana during the ceremony.

- Ends -

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