Long time Otaki couple, Reg and Val Taylor reached their 65 year wedding anniversary on January 28, celebrating with 60 plus family members on February 21.
The couple met in Napier where Reg was working as an engineer and Val worked in one of the town’s department stores. A Boys Brigade leader, he was asked to go to the local Girls Brigade to teach the them semaphore – a signalling system using arms and flags. On his second visit he met Val, a Girls Brigade member. But it was another two years before he asked her to marry him and two more years before they were married, with a ceremony at the Baptist Church in Napier.
“I had to prepare my trousseaux!” Val said.
Reg was an Otaki lad, who moved to Napier to do his 10,000 hour engineering apprenticeship and later returned to a job there. Val had grown up Palmerston North and the family moved to Napier when she was 17 when her father retired.
They had five children aged between three years and 10, when Ray’s brother who was managing the family farm in Otaki, “walked off”. He’d had enough.
“I came down, looked at the books and talked to people, then rang Val and asked her if she’d like to live in Otaki,” he said. She said yes and in 1962 the family moved down to the farm. “It was a big deal moving down and a steep learning curve! I’d never milked a cow!”
As well as increasing their family – a new daughter eight years after the older children – they have both been very active in the wider community, through church and community groups and organisations.
They were both drivers for Meals on Wheels, taught the Bible-in-School programme and were members of Rotary and Probus clubs as well as the Otaki Baptist Church. Ray served on the Waitohu School Home and School committee, was a founding member of the Cobwebs Trust, Levin Victim Support and was a building committee member when the church decided to rebuild their premises on the corner of Te Manuao Road and the Highway in 1984. Val was one of the organisers of the Otaki Women’s Coffee Morning which held a monthly meeting together from 1986 to the early 2000’s, this was an interchurch event. She was also involved with the Otaki Plunket and persuaded to enter the Mrs New Zealand quiz competition.
Since retiring from the farm, they have had several homes in Otaki, until the penultimate on Rangiuru Road before moving on again to something smaller. The Rangiuru Road house was getting too big to look after and they began looking for somewhere smaller. Not finding anything to suit, daughter, Judith Griffin said “we’ve got 17 acres – why not build a small house here?” So after some thought and enquiries, they found building a stand-alone a house wouldn’t “fit” council regulations and the family came up with adding a self-sufficient extension to the main house, where they can watch the grandchildren and great grandchildren growing up, while enjoying their independence but assistance near at hand if it’s needed.
They celebrated at Judith and John’s home on the 21 February, with most of their six children, 16 grandchildren and 22+ great grandchildren in attendance, one grandchild and four great grandchildren live in Norway, but they are expecting over 60 to attend.