Bay of Plenty Times
Celebration of platinum
Roy and Claudia Diggelmann were married in 1953
Roy and Claudia Diggelmann, household names in Katikati, celebrated 70 years of marriage last week.
The couple are the grandchildren of the original settlers to Katikati — the Humes and the Diggelmanns.
Last week the Bay of Plenty Times caught up with the couple to hear their love story — which began in primary school — and of their milestone wedding anniversary.
The two, now in their 90s, met as infants at Katikati District School. There’s a historic classroom photo of the pair where Roy stands just above a grinning Claudia. He appears to be looking at her.
“Or he’s just asleep,” Claudia jokes.
The two attended the local school until Roy was sent to school in Hamilton around age 8-9. He returned to work on the family farm as a teenager around age 16.
Claudia and Roy became a couple as teens.
Claudia recalls their first dance in Katikati.
“I had a nice blue dress on, a very fine crepe wool dress and it was very smart. My cousin Kay was sitting beside me, in a row like we did, and the boys were across from us.
“Kay said, ‘there’s Roy Diggelmann over there, he’s going to get you to come and dance with him because you’re looking so lovely!”
Sure enough, Roy made a beeline for the pretty girl in the blue dress.
It was love at first sight for Roy. Claudia would watch Roy playing rugby at Katikati Football Club. They were teased they’d have some fine-looking, rugbyplaying children when the time came.
They married in their early 20s — Claudia was 22 and Roy was 23 — at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Katikati on March 14, 1953.
Roy recalls providing a treat for their wedding guests at the reception, which was held in a hall in Apata — bananas. The fruit was scarce across the country after the war.
“Some of the ladies put them in their purses and took them home,”
Their best-laid honeymoon plans came a cropper when their milker had an accident and could not tend to farm duties in their absence. The newlyweds had planned to visit the South Island in a caravan. Instead, they found someone else to look after the farm and they headed to Auckland instead. Their wedding night was spent in a quarry.
Getting married put an end to the nursing career Claudia was working towards. Nurses were not allowed back at work once they married. She recalls all the hospital sisters were spinsters.
Their first child came along a year after they wed and they went on to have four children (they now have eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren). Roy tended to the dairy farm with help from Claudia. They lived in the old homestead until they built their home overlooking Tauranga Harbour in 1970.
The Katikati Advertiser asked them the question — “what’s the secret to a long marriage?”
Roy made a joke about saying “yes” all the time helps. “Roy always says, if you ever argue, don’t go to sleep on it,” Claudia says. “Roy is very placid. I’ve always been the talker. It
"I had a nice blue dress on, a very fine crepe wool dress and it was very smart. My cousin Kay was sitting beside me, in a row like we did, and the boys were across from us." Claudia Diggelmann
works that way.”
During their lifetime the couple have been heavily involved with Rotary, helping to found the local branch. Roy was also a past president. They’ve hosted six Rotary exchange students throughout their life and are still in contact with them.
Roy’s grandparents are Jean Albert and Anna Diggelmann from Switzerland who brought the Tetley Rd property in 1881 for 10 shillings an acre (247 acres, or 100ha). The property has been in the Diggelmann family ever since.
Claudia’s parents were Claude and Rita Hume, who came from Scotland and Ireland.
Her paternal grandfather and his two brothers arrived and bought much of Matahui Rd in the late 1800s. Her maternal grandparents, the Johnstons, owned and operated the first general store in Katikati.