When Riki Te Tau's heart stopped after the mast of a boat struck power lines he believes it jolted him into action to finally ask his girlfriend to marry him.

The accident happened when Te Tau, 40, was bringing a yacht off a beach in Marlborough in October 2014.

The former Masterton man said he was clinically dead for a few minutes after receiving the massive shock outside his girlfriend Susana Scott's work at an Outward Bound school.

As he was being loaded into an air ambulance he came to and realised he wanted to wed the sweetheart he had been on the verge of breaking up with.

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But it took two and a half years and four failed attempts at popping the question before Scott said "yes" - because his proposals weren't romantic enough for her.

"When the accident happened our relationship was actually on S**t Street," Te Tau, a possum trapper, told the Herald on Sunday. "I had been working on my exit strategy, then my near death experience put things in perspective.

"I realised life is too short and that I wanted Susana to be my wife."

CPR was performed on Te Tau at the scene to resuscitate him and he was airlifted to Wellington Hospital in a serious condition.

When he recovered, he proposed to Scott one morning as they rolled out of bed.

"I had no idea how to be romantic and I didn't do any study beforehand," he said. "I asked the question as casually as you would ask someone what they would like for breakfast."

Riki Te Tau marries Susana Scott after proposing four times. Photo / Paul Howell Photography / http://www.howellphoto.com/
Riki Te Tau marries Susana Scott after proposing four times. Photo / Paul Howell Photography / http://www.howellphoto.com/

His girlfriend was not impressed and told him to ask her again another time. Te Tau then Googled "best time to propose to someone" and got some bright ideas.

"Every time we went somewhere I thought was romantic I would propose to her, even at the KFC or at the beach - and every time she told me I still hadn't got it right.

"Because I'm a bloke and Suse is a chick, we have different ideas about what is romantic."

Riki Te Tau and Susana Scott's wedding. Photo / Paul Howell Photography http://www.howellphoto.com/
Riki Te Tau and Susana Scott's wedding. Photo / Paul Howell Photography http://www.howellphoto.com/

Riki eventually stopped proposing and the couple finally tied the knot in February in a "DIY" beachside ceremony at Riversdale.

"Riki got ripped at the wedding and he was roasted by his best man in his speech for taking so long to get me to marry him," Scott, 35, said.

Instead of going on a honeymoon the couple went to a local recycling plant the next day to recycle some of the wedding items.

Scott believes they would not be man and wife if it hadn't been for him being electrocuted.

"The scare really spurred him on," she added. "His proposals were terrible but everything worked out great in the end."