Con­leys reach the magic 50

Sport, gar­den­ing, travel and even a spell in Ohakune

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

If Linda and John Con­ley’s mar­riage could sur­vive four years in Ohakune, it could sur­vive any­thing.

The Gloam­ing Hill cou­ple cel­e­brated five decades of mar­riage on Au­gust 10, hold­ing a fam­ily party at Ti­tahi Bay Bowl­ing Club.

The venue was ap­pro­pri­ate be­cause the Con­leys are both mad about lawn bowls, be­tween them hav­ing won New Zealand and North Is­land ti­tles.

It was sport that brought the pair to­gether 50 years ago.

Mrs Con­ley, then 18, was in Auck­land to com­pete in a roller­skat­ing com­pe­ti­tion, and met 20- year- old Mr Con­ley on the re­turn train jour­ney to Welling­ton.

‘‘I hap­pened to turn my head and he waved,’’ she said.

Mr Con­ley was re­turn­ing home to Palmer­ston North from a Pa­cific Is­land hol­i­day. The pair chat­ted about sport and travel, and were soon an item.

The cou­ple had likely crossed paths be­fore – Mr Con­ley worked in the ticket of­fice at Welling­ton Rail­way Sta­tion.

‘‘He had prob­a­bly sold me a ticket a few times,’’ Mrs Con­ley said.

Af­ter mar­ry­ing in 1963, the cou- ple spent years shift­ing for Mr Con­ley’s work on the rail­ways. Ash­hurst and Waipawa were OK, but not Ohakune, Mrs Con­ley said.

If light­ing a coal range ev­ery morn­ing wasn’t bad enough, the weather and iso­la­tion were in­tol­er­a­ble, she said.

By the time the cou­ple moved back to Kenepuru, then As­cot Park and fi­nally Ti­tahi Bay, they had four sons and a daugh­ter.

Life was busy – Mr Con­ley coached chil­dren’s rugby and soft­ball, main­tained an award-win­ning gar­den, and since the 1990s has been a court crier.

He has looked af­ter ju­ries and wit­nesses on the high-pro­file tri­als of Scott Wat­son and Ewen Mac­Don­ald.

Work­ing through the tough mo­ments, like liv­ing in Ohakune or be­ing a ‘‘bowls widow’’, was the se­cret to a long mar­riage, Mrs Con­ley said.

‘‘You have your ar­gu­ments and then you get over it. No­body has 50 years with­out rough times.’ ‘‘I think we get along very well to­gether,’’ Mr Con­ley said. ‘‘ We love each other in the end.’’

Photo: AN­DREA O’NEIL

Nifty fifty: Linda and John Con­ley cel­e­brated a long mar­riage on Au­gust 10.

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