Islanders seal the deal in the spirit of Steampunk

Wayne and Diane King's steampunk-themed wedding held on Stewart Island in February. Photos: Larika Photography

IT was a wedding like no other.

Set in the surreal world of steampunk, Wayne King and Diane Kenyon took the ultimate vows — becoming husband and wife.

It was a long journey from Culverden in Canterbury where they met, to Hamner Springs, before ending up on the remote southern island of Rakiura just below Te Waipounamu.

‘‘It took him a year to ask me out,’’ Diane said.

A widower, Wayne had been a regular at the Culverden Tearooms where Diane was working.

‘‘Each month he would get a step closer to where I did my prep work.

‘‘Then he started turning up just as I was finishing work.

‘‘He eventually walked me to my car and although he asked me out, he said he couldn’t take me out for six weeks as he was too busy.

‘‘So I wrote down my name and phone number on a serviette.’’

It was worth the wait, Diane said.

‘‘He gave me a huge bouquet of flowers and took me to the top floor of a restaurant.’’

And so, the romance continued.

Nine years together, Diane described their courtship as ‘‘lovely, old-fashioned…. and romantic’’.

‘‘He’s a romantic guy,’’ which Wayne had proved time and again, especially during the planning and preparation of their unique wedding.

Just before the proposal Diane noticed things were going ‘‘missing’’, such as the precious family pounamu which had been in Diane’s family for about 200 years.

When asked about it, Wayne just said, ‘‘don’t worry about that’’.

The next item to go ‘‘missing’’ was a taonga, a box, Diane said.

‘‘Again, Wayne reassured me, ‘don’t worry’.’’

All was revealed a few weeks later. It was Anzac Day 2019.

Wayne collected Diane after work to take her on a picnic at Moturau Moana Gardens on Rakiura.

On the way, the couple had to pass the Four Square shop with its community chalk board across its frontage.

‘‘Look at the board, Diane,’’ Wayne said.

‘‘I couldn’t stop laughing,’’ Diane said.

‘‘As I had been working, I was the last to know… everybody on the island knew first,’’ she said.

‘Will you marry me Diane from Wayne,’ it read.

At the lookout at Moturau he proposed properly… on bended knee, Diane said.

In the taonga, lined with moss were two pounamu rings, which Wayne had made at Dave Goodin’s workshop (Rakiura Jade) in Oban.

‘‘Mum gave it (the wedge of pounamu) to Wayne…. not to me, to Wayne — that was a good sign.’’

Preplanned… ‘‘he had taken my other rings to measure.’’

And under the rings was the serviette with my name and phone number written on it — the one I had given him years ago when he finally asked me out.

From Te Waipounamu
A hunter, gather and fisher, Wayne had been drawn to Rakiura.

Hunting deer was his sport of choice.

Born in Rangiora, Wayne previously worked for the New Zealand Forest Service in Kaikoura culling goats, as well as working for the Department of Conservation (Doc) for 27 years
including Canterbury and Kaikoura.

Born in Christchurch, and brought up in Rotherham, Diane had grown to love the outdoors, especially life on Rakiura.

Between them, Diane and Wayne have 11 children, ranging in age from 14 years to 38.

Two years into their relationship, the couple headed to the island to see what it had to offer, and to hunt.

Two of their children, Shannan and Rhys came with them, taking up the backpacks.

‘‘It was a family thing,’’ they said.

As they both came from camping and hunting backgrounds, staying at Mason Bay on the island’s west coast for a week in the Doc hut with no electricity was no problem.

The family also spent time in Oban.

‘‘It was planned as a time for rest and recreation, as well as giving the children an introduction to the island. Shannan even had a trial day at the school.

‘‘They loved it, the island.

‘‘It felt like leaving home when it was time to leave.’’

So the decision was made, and they wound up their business at Hamner Springs and relocated to Rakiura.

‘‘We came to the island in the hope of getting work.’’

Which they both did, with Wayne employed by Doc and Diane working in the hospitality sector.

Time travelling to the wedding
Based on Victoriana, add in some science fiction elements and/or industrialisation,
mix it up, and the result is steampunk, a genre which could be developed in various ways.”

Diane loved the idea of steampunk for the wedding, so set about collecting items to use and transform into the genre, embellishing all 10 top hats (two red, one white, seven black) for the bridal party.

Although it has no set guidelines, things from the Victorian era such as corsets, petticoats, bustles, dinner suits with tails and waistcoats were normally included.

Although Wayne was a bit ‘‘hesitant’’ in the beginning, it wasn’t long before he also got enthused.

Whenever they were ‘‘out and about’’ on the mainland, they scoured second-hand shops, visited Oamaru, the steampunk capital, and its Steampunk HQ.

They also checked online for items of interest.

The Riverton Emporium was a fantastic source, especially to embellish the top hats,
clothes and accessories, they agreed.

Putting together the men’s ensembles was first on the list.

The groomsmen’s outfits were themed, including the best man, Blair Reid as an aviator/sky dancer, hence the ‘‘wings’’ adorning his shoulders; groomsman Rhys Johnston as Paladin, a protector who was ‘‘bristling with [fake] firearms’’ and the page boy, their grandson Patrick.

Being a hunter/gather, the theme for groom was an easy choice, a small whitetail deer antler a friend had found at ‘‘an old camp site at Long Harry’’ was incorporated on to his top hat, along with steampunk goggles, stag jewellery and a strip of deer skin.

In tribute to his father, Wayne’s buttons on his waistcoat were from his dad’s World War 2 uniform and he also carried his father’s old pocket watch.

The men were also dressed in a black waistcoat embellished with gold, white shirts and dark trousers, as well as more steampunk-embellishments and accessories.

For the bridal party, the bride wore an ensemble of cream, white and gold — a corset in cream over a white, lacy blouse, with a golden skirt covered with lace. Accessories included lacy wrist/hand cuffs and a lacy and cameo choker.

Her top hat, as most steampunkers wear, had gold and white netting covering the white hat, with an intricate golden necklace to add even more bling.

Diane ordered her bridal outfit online, but wasn’t happy until the fourth one arrived, which she set about embellishing.

Her entourage was complete with a bouquet of black roses, studded and draped with pearls and a cameo.

The bridesmaids, Wayne’s daughter Claire and Dianne’s daughter Shannan, wore a stunning colour combination of red and black, with matching embellished corsets and top hats.

Wayne and Diane were married where the proposal took place — at Moturau Moana Gardens.

‘‘We chose it because that was where he proposed,’’ Diane said.

The 50 guests arrived, all in the spirit of the occasion, dressed in their finest steampunk outfits.

Even the celebrant Gwen Neave was dressed up, Diane said.

‘‘Everyone loved it… the town went all out on the costumes.’’

But there was more to come.

Before the wedding Diane and Wayne had set up the reception.

With the Stewart Island Community Centre decked out in the theme, up to 100 people gathered for the wedding reception, again all were dressed in steampunk, which included about 20 from the mainland, with the furthest travelling from Nelson.

Setting the mood, a dingy was set up at the entrance, decorated with bunting, ferns and a steampunked-up [fake] canon for people to jump into and take photos.

Created by Jo Leask, the black and white, three-tier cake was topped with a top hat and adorned with gears, roses, cogs and a locket with the first photo which had been taken of the bride and groom together.

The back wall behind the bridal party, draped in black, hung with icicle-type fairy lights, had two giant oversized clock faces and a set of antlers.

Set on black tablecloths the many silver goblets, which guests were encouraged to take home as a memento, clocks and brass candlesticks which had been collected by the couple looked like booty from Ali Baba’s cavern.

The ancient-looking wooden boxes added to the ambience.

‘‘Every time we went to Invercargill, we went to all the second-hand shops,’’ Diane said.

‘‘It took nine months to source everything and about 1000 hours trawling over the computer for ideas,’’ Wayne said.

Diane and Wayne had worked on all the intricate details, so much so that Diane even embellished all the serviette holders with a cog and a feather, and Wayne had made quill pens to be used at the signing of the wedding register.

‘‘Everyone that went to the wedding was so amazed.’’

And the honeymoon — that is yet to be, with rumours of a tramp around the northwest circuit planned.