They wanted to keep it secret but couldn’t and now it’s happily official – Alison Mau’s getting married again. The glamorous newsreader announced last week that she has proposed to her gorgeous girlfriend of two years, dancer Karleen Edmonds, in a statement that came as a shock to many – but not to those in her close circle of friends.
“It’s true, they are engaged and they couldn’t be happier,” says a close friend of the pair, who announced their relationship at a Queen of the Whole Universe drag pageant in November 2010. “I haven’t seen a ring on her finger as yet, but it’s definitely official.”
While they are yet to make firm plans for the wedding, Ali and Karleen are expected to opt for something elegant and low-key – privacy has always been enormously important to the pair, who live together in Auckland sharing custody of Ali’s two children Paris (14) and Joel (11). “Deciding to get married is a hugely personal thing for Ali – her priority has always been ensuring the children’s happiness,” says the friend.
“But she and Karleen are a great couple – there were people who wondered if the relationship would be a five-minute wonder, but they have lasted the distance. Everyone is delighted for them.” Ali popped the question to hip hop instructor and aerobics champion Karleen shortly after Valentine’s Day, but only made the news public this month.
The couple released a statement saying, “We’re excited to be taking this next step in our lives together, and want to thank all our family and friends for their unanimously positive reaction to our plans, and for all their unwavering support.”
Their engagement comes almost three years after Australian-born Ali split from her husband of 19 years, One News anchorman Simon Dallow. Ali and Simon have an amicable relationship, sharing the care of their children and the corridors of TVNZ where both work as presenters.
Fair Go host Ali met Karleen when her children began dance lessons at her Auckland studio. A specialist hip hop dancer and successful businesswoman, Karleen has trained in both ballet and jazz and she won national titles in teams and pairs aerobics. She is a renowned choreographer who has worked with prominent Kiwi musicians and big commercial clients such as Coca-Cola.
Ali’s longtime friend and fellow presenter Jayne Kiely says the couple are “so happy and in love”. Jayne and Ali bonded when their children started at the same public Auckland primary school almost a decade ago and she, husband Paul and their two children know the couple well.
“When [the relationship] first happened I think everyone was like ‘oh, okay!’ But whoever it is, as long as you’re happy – and they are so happy and in love – it’s great. That’s all you can want out of a relationship. That’s what I’ve got and that’s what they’ve got.” Jayne admits friends worried about other people’s perceptions but she says the way the couple has handled it has been wonderful.
“I worried about prejudice but they’ve been incredibly respectful and private. I think they just got on with their lives – it shows the kind of people that they are. It’s a cliché but it’s all absolutely true.”
Ali’s children have been a major reason for the couple wanting to stay out of the limelight. “I can’t speak for the children but from what I see, everything’s tickety boo,” says Jayne. “We’re both mums and family people. Ali’s great fun. We have a great laugh together. She can laugh at herself… it’s a survival skill!” Paul Holmes, who is a good friend of Ali’s and worked with her at Prime TV says, while he doesn’t know Karleen well, he is thrilled for the couple.
“I love Ali – she’s a gorgeous girl and a talented broadcaster, a great survivor,” he tells the Weekly. “The thing I know about her change in circumstances, which was sudden, is that she told me, ‘God, I had no idea it was going to happen.’ But she trusted it and went with it and I wish her only the best.”
While no major plans are in place for the wedding, friends say they will go for something intimate and low-key. Karleen especially relishes their privacy and the two have fought hard to keep their lives out of the public eye. They felt strongly, however, that now is the right time to take the next step, says Jayne.
“They felt strong enough that their relationship would survive. Look how many same-sex relationships there are all around the world. We have lots of gay friends and my kids don’t blink an eye. There is much less prejudice.”
And as for the public reaction to the engagement news? “I’m sure though there are a few unhappy men out there,” laughs Jayne. “ [Ali and Karleen] are a very handsome couple!”