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Peter and Julie Lowe, of Paeroa, have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Photo: ALICE PARMINTER

60 years married: ‘we’re still young yet’

In 1958, a young woman from Paeroa threw a cup of water over a builder working nearby, as he stopped to grab a drink outside her college classroom.

Five years later, on March 30, 1963, the couple tied the knot.

It’s a marriage that has stood the test of time, and Peter and Julia Lowe say there’s no great secret to their union’s longevity.

“You have your disagreements,” Peter says, “but the strength is being able to get over them.”

Peter and Julia have lived in and around Paeroa all their lives.

Their family – three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren – all live nearby. It’s family and community, it seems, that keep this couple thriving.

They have both been heavily involved in their local community over the years. Peter was a volunteer ambulance driver for St John and still plays golf three days a week. Julia was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 2017 for services to the community; she has been involved with the Girl Guide movement, the Paeroa Support Trust, the Cooperating Church, and does tai chi and choir along with taking on babysitting duties for one of her great-grandchildren. She’s also a practising Justice of the Peace.

“It’s just been a steady marriage,” Julia says. “He’s still the best man in my life.”

Shared interests have also been important. Peter spent much of his free time fixing up vintage cars, and the pair have travelled around NZ and the world on rallies.

“We went to Art Deco about eight or nine times in Napier and that’s full costume from when you get there,” Julia says.

“We went in the old car of course and we always dressed up the whole time. I love the old cars, we both do.”

The couple both say there’s no great secret to a happy marriage. They’ve simply honoured their marriage contract and committed to facing the ups and downs of life together.

“We wouldn’t be here this long otherwise and putting up with each other,” Julia says.

“We must have done something right. He might tell you a different story, perhaps you should interview him without me in the room (laughs).”

Peter agrees. “It’s too easy nowadays to get out of a marriage, you just have an argument and say ‘Oh hell, I’m off’,” he says. “It’s the old story, like any contract you work at it.”

It’s clearly an easy, practised relationship – the two are comfortable and quick to joke around with each other.

“You’re not a ‘yes, dear’ man,” Julia says to him. Peter is quick with a reply.

“They’re two good words you should learn though,” he says. “And [there’s] not much point in changing now. As long as she keeps cooking me dinner!”

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Journalism funded by NZ on Air