In 1962 I was having my first year out of school and Neville had been caught (by way of a birthday ballot) in the 1st Intake of National Service, which was the then Governments response to the Vietnam war and ended up spending May to August at Waiouru Military camp in the North Island.
Why is this important to tell you may ask? Well while not sure of the exact date (but probably in November), it was a Saturday night at the RSA dance in Invercargill, where I was allowed to go under the watchful eye of my older brother Ray and that while Neville was talking to one of Ray’s good mates Lyndsay Jukes, who had also been caught in the 1st Intake with him, I was introduced………. and as they say, the rest is history.♥
We dated for a couple of years before becoming engaged and married in May 1966, some three and a half years after that first meeting on the RSA dance floor.
We purchased our first home in Riverton just up the street from where I set up my second business venture “Beach Hairstylists” which followed shortly after purchasing Jason School of Modelling and Deportment in Invercargill.
Due to travelling approximately 90 kms per day into Invercargill three times per week, my need for a reliable car became very apparent and my first one, a 1950 low light Morris Minor with 100,000 miles on the clock, soon became too unreliable which became very apparent after my seizing it up one night coming home – letting it cool down and then through a very helpful farmer putting more water in the radiator and believe it or not it got me home, but obviously, it had to go! An upgrade was quickly needed.
The Simca 1000 did a sterling job and then a wee beauty, a Fiat 850 Coupe. This was the last vehicle I had to purchase with my own money as in 1972 in another other Chapter… of my story, my life began in Direct Sales, which allowed me to earn one while doing something I enjoyed.
During those first few years, I also took a part-time role as typing teacher at Riverton District High School which I thoroughly enjoyed and had great School Certificate success with my pupils.
As I left school at 15, did not go to teaching college, how did I obtain this position… you might well ask! The teaching I had done with my Deportment and Modelling school was the clincher and they were pleased to have a young female teacher to keep the teenagers in line. I managed to keep a few chapters ahead of the students in the textbooks and we got on fine.
I was the first female teacher to turn up in a PANT’S SUIT!! SHOCK HORROR in the staff room, but as I explained, if you want me to run around the basketball court with the students I was not going to freeze in a skirt. Nothing more was said and before long the other female teachers followed suit. I was a leader in fashion way back then!
If people think living in small-town New Zealand was dull, I can assure you it wasn’t. Social life was just as hectic as work. If we had just my business activity it would have been enough but Neville was fully involved in the community through Sport and Service organisations, plus working for a National Brewery and Wine and Spirit Company there was plenty happening.
Pictured below – We were fortunate to purchase our first home when we married, a cottage in Riverton, it came fully furnished which was most helpful starting off married life. I remember well we had my 21st birthday party in the garage – an awesome night.
Tegan, pictured below was our first dog a beautiful Sky Terrier, Neville built her an amazing dog house and run (you could have slept in it yourself) she was a much-loved pet who went with him everywhere she could.
As it was not until 1974 that Dayan was born we were both able to indulge in our respective work, sport and community activities without too much trouble, however, post-1974 we had to become extremely well organized and while we are both natural in this department, being in so many organisations and with responsibilities, in our respective careers the arrival of our first child created some real out of the box thinking.
The first decision to reduce the pressure was to buy a lovely villa in Invercargill and set up a second home, plus develop the two front rooms for the Modelling and Deportment School (now changed to Belda School of Modelling and Deportment) and the first of our many Belda houses.
Just to give you a picture of things financial and where women sat at that time.. The bank manager at Riverton told me I was the first woman at that branch who was given a mortgage in their own name! Neville was insistent right from the early days that I have my own bank accounts, apart from our own joint family home. This was very unusual thinking way back then, but the foundation of a great relationship.
The purchase of Belda House enabled me to stay in Invercargill as much as was needed, which was mostly during the week and spend the weekend at Riverton and it worked beautifully for me and Neville, as he was often in Invercargill for business and could stay over as required, so we alternated between two fully set up homes and when Dayan started school he went to Waihopai School which was just around the corner in Herbert Street.
Below is a Pictoral of our parents who were such a support to us – a lovely look back in time
It has to be said that we were extremely fortunate in having two very supportive parents, with Neville’s in Riverton and mine in Invercargill who was a great help and in particular Neville’s mother, who often travelled with me or stepped in with Neville when I was away. It worked so well that as Invercargill became a more regular home base for me, we offered Neville parents full-time accommodation in our home at Riverton and all Neville wanted from that deal was that the nights he was in residence his mother cook his night meal!!
This dual home situation also worked well for Dayan as he got to see a lot of his grandparents. As we replicated the dual home and business model in both Dunedin and Christchurch, it was even more important having our parents support, as we travelled regularly between them all, particularly at weekends doing all the things that need to be done with properties and many times we had Neville parents with us, his dad helping on the property while his mother looked after Dayan and I worked on the business.
We often think back and wonder how we managed it all without blowing apart and can probably thank our parents as much as anybody for that not happening. The other thing that we believe helped immensely was that we truly enjoyed what we did, both in our careers and in the community, so did not think it was that hard.
It did become a little harder however when 7 years after Dayan, Bonita arrived. Neville, while originally turning down an offer to relocate to Dunedin, did 6 months later accepted the promotion to Area Manager Otago/Southland for Dominion Breweries. He did not want to shift as we were so well set up on all fronts and he loved the involvement with his parents and the community, however when we did the numbers it seemed a better option, particularly for the family as a whole as our guess was the children would probably not stay in Riverton after leaving school and by being in Dunedin schooling opportunities and career options were greater, plus I was in the centre of my business world. By making this move though we were going away from our support base. This was the hardest part, however, we covered this problem by introducing a “Nanny” into the family, which continued for a number of years and the second one we employed turned out to be a real gem.
Shortly after our move to Dunedin Neville’s father suffered a heart attack and within a couple of years died and his mother was badly injured in a motor accident, which left her with injuries that would have prevented her helping as she had done, so although we missed their involvement greatly, regular visits south helped ease the separation.
The better schooling options for Dayan and Bonita were mixed with Dayan attending John McGlashen, Dunedin’s premier private boy’s school and being hooked out by his father and introduced to the workforce after a rather bad end of year report. As Neville says he did not even eat his lunch successfully.
Dayan will say though that he doubted any of his mates would have eaten it either. For the record Neville mostly made up the lunch boxes for both of them!!!
Actually, talking about lunches, the two of them were not too keen on dad’s sandwiches, as when clearing out bushes down the bank Neville discovered a pile of lunches in the scrub…..
Bonita while also not being a star student was particularly good at getting the Otago Girls High School headmistresses attention through being more interested in what the boys were doing, however, gained big brownies points in her singing and was a member of the Otago Girls choral chorus who won gold in a South Pacific schools competition in Hawaii.
It’s fair to say that they followed their parents in not being great students and preferred getting out into the world and doing their thing which has to be said they have lived their dreams (plus the odd nightmare) and made a good careers and income and along the way.
Who would have guessed when we made that decision in 1982 to move to Dunedin that 18 years later we would make Christchurch our home and Dayan & Bonita would have beaten us here…….amazing how life works out.
In 1978 on a Seminar trip to the States and Hawaii we purchased the plans for Neville’s dream – a 34 1/2 foot Jim Brown designed sea runner Trimaran.
Which became his passion to build his own craft over a period of 23 years to get into the water and 25 years to complete. All while working a full-time job, upgrading the Belda Houses, supporting my business and the family 100%. He finally got time to enjoy his dream on Bonday II.
To celebrate his 70th birthday Neville’s older brother Barry jumped out of an aeroplane at 3500 metres, so when Neville arrived at this date he decided that following his brother was for the birds. Spending a few hundred dollars for a 10-minute thrill, with some risk, was not his thing, so in discussion with younger brother Wayne, who was 65 in the same year as Neville’s 70th, they decide to do 3 or 4-day tramp, carrying their packs and relive the Army years that they both endured and enjoyed.
They decided on the privately run Hump Ridge Track just west of Tuatapere, Wayne’s town of birth and just up from Waihoka where they lived before moving down to Riverton. Neville had never been on to the Bluecliffs Beach (or the remains of the Port Craig Sawmill further round the coast where you overnight before the last day of the walk) which you walk along for several kilometres before going straight up the bush-covered Hump Ridge to the Okaka Hut some 1000 metres above Te Wae Wae Bay.
Although this was by any measure a very ambitious and strenuous tramp (and has now been included in Doc’s great walks alongside Milford, Kepler and like) they came home unscathed and excited about their adventure, so decided to do similar walks on an annual basis and to date have managed to do so 8 years on the trot.
The next two years were the 5 day Banks Peninsula and 4 day Kepler tracks with full packs, however after that with nothing more to prove they decided to do day trips only, but still put in a minimum of 5/7 days in the area. The last few years have seen them do half the Rail trail in Central Otago, Riverton tracks that they walked years ago and some they didn’t, Christchurch Port Hills and earthquake city, Hurunui Hills including Hanmer Springs and this last year the Southern Alps foothills from Mt Cook through to Oxford.
While they would like to keep doing this for another 8 years and Neville has his eye on the Heaphy, health will obviously dictate, however as Wayne says “where there is a track we will find it”.
As a 16-year-old Neville joined his father in the Riverton Fire Brigade and served 23 years with the last 8 years as Chief Fire Officer. The brigade was his passion and was very disappointed in having to resign and step away from the excitement, community service and camaraderie of brigade life when accepting the transfer to Dunedin. In fact, he resigned from 4 other community organisations as well, being President of the Riverton Volunteer Coastguard, Treasurer Riverton Carnival Society, Local Water Safety Warden and the District Coroner. Neville was presented with Honorary life membership of both Fire Brigade and Coastguard, which he treasures to this day.
Coming into this sport mad family was an eye-opener and I had to learn fast if I was to hang around for long…………….Rugby and Rowing were Neville’s main ones, then sailing once he finished with them, but put up any sport and he will probably be there. His parents were double Honorary life members, both with the rugby club, plus bowling for dad and netball for mum, so you get the picture!!
We have had so many adventures together and as a family, the children inherited the travel bug, plus having confidence in their own abilities to try new and exciting ventures. We celebrated our 50th Wedding anniversary in 2016 and now approaching 55 years. We are now living in peaceful Leithfield in North Canterbury, on the same property as our Son and daughter-in-law and new grandchild Aaliyah Rose which is great – for this city girl it was quite an adjustment I can tell you, but have settled well into the country life, with Neville planting an amazing garden of 50+ fruit trees and lots of camellias, azaleas, plus potted plants of colour. Our puppies love this environment as well, with many great places to go for walks. We have a new neighbour who has 9 equestrain horses, who are rotated the paddocks right in front of our home, what an amazing sight to look out the window and see these beautiful animals looking at you.