A couple in love, an exotic Pacific island, the sun setting over a palm-fringed lagoon, a diamond ring and a romantic marriage proposal made in front of everyone at a function in an exclusive resort.

Dot Pumipi said "yes" when Shane Jones, her partner of several years, popped the question on New Year's Eve in a setting and on an occasion she described as "just perfect", at the Zipolo Habu Resort on remote Lola Island, in the western Solomons.

Her fiance - "Fiance is a quaintly old-fashioned word," he said - is former Northland MP for Labour and currently the Ambassador for Pacific Economic Development.

"This is an engagement, but not a political engagement," Mr Jones quipped after proposing to Ms Pumipi and putting the sparkler on her finger in front of friends and other guests at Lola.


Being a lad from Tai Tokerau, it was only proper that he sang a waiata on the occasion - although he only got through the first verse of Lola by the Kinks before deciding the song might not be appropriate, he said.

The couple had intended announcing their engagement officially "when the time felt right", and it was on the cards it might be during their five-day holiday with friends on the island, but Ms Pumipi was still taken by surprise when Mr Jones did the deed.

"Shane got the host to announce that the ambassador was going to make a speech. We were on a private visit but everyone naturally thought it was going to be an official speech. He called me up in front of everyone, pulled out the ring and proposed. It was definitely a surprise," Ms Pumipi said.

"We felt very privileged to be able to get engaged there, in such a beautiful place, sharing the occasion with friends."

A date for the wedding has not yet been set.

Mr Jones had been back from an official trip to the United Kingdom only two days when he said to Ms Pumipi, "I'd like to take you to the Solomons".

Other holiday highlights included the journey to the island, which required two plane rides and a boat trip, meeting up with their friends from Northland, visiting historic World War II sites and swimming with sharks.

Mr Jones said he first learned of the idyllic location on a visit to "the Pacific's most successful commercial fishing enterprise", a joint fishing and canning venture between US company Trimarine and the Solomons government, employing 2000.