The police recruit who proposed to his same-sex partner on the day of his graduation has revealed he wanted a big stage to express his love.
Constable Erik Meechan yesterday proposed to his partner of five years, Matty Judd, in front of fellow graduating recruits, their families and Commissioner Mike Bush and Police Minister Stuart Nash.
Normally reserved, Meechan thought the occasion instead required a grand gesture.
"My usual style would be to have done it at home while we were watching a movie or something, but graduation is a very special event that means a lot to us," Meechan said.
"I just wanted it to be a bit special, a bit different."
Meechan made his move just as graduating members of Wing 315 finished a thunderous haka – the last task of their initial training at the Royal New Zealand Police College.
As winner of the Commissioner's Award for Leadership, he had already stood in front of his 77 wingmates and hundreds of family and friends to give a speech.
But this time there were fewer words, though they meant so much more.
"Could Matty Judd please come forward?" Meechan said.
When a surprised Judd stepped out of the audience, Meechan dropped to one knee and proposed.
The answer was yes.
There were tears, hugs, photos, more tears, more hugs, enthusiastic applause and loud cheering.
Commissioner Bush and Minister Nash were among the first to offer their congratulations.
"It was just awesome," Commissioner Bush said.
"I wish Eric and Matty all the very best for the future."
Judd said he was usually the one more likely to pull out a grand gesture, so Meechan had caught him by surprise.
"We've talked about it for a while but it's one of those things that will always be a surprise," he said.
"He's normally very reserved – I'm much more likely to do something extravagant.
"I think he wanted to do something extravagant that I would appreciate. And I did."
Commissioner Bush said the proposal and supportive reception showed how police culture embraced the diversity of modern New Zealand.