Home' Greymouth Star : January 5th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
Thursday, January 5, 2017 - 7
he secret to a long and happy
marriage is quite simple, according
to Waimangaroa couple Frank and
Cath Robertson, who yesterday
celebrated their 70th wedding
“I just do as I’m told by the business manager,” Mr
Robertson, 92, said.
“I do the talking and Frank listens, when he doesn’t
have his hearing aid turned off,” Mrs Robertson, 90,
They were married at St John’s Anglican Church
in Westport, with bridesmaids Cath’s sisters Nell
Clayworth and Nancy Queripel, best man Bob
Robertson and groomsman Jim Eckersley.
The couple yesterday celebrated their platinum
anniversary with family and friends.
Frank Robertson moved to New Zealand from
Fifeshire, Scotland, as a two-year-old. He was one
of 11 children of Walter and Alice Roberston. His
oldest brother did not emigrate with the family and
Frank never saw him again. Another brother followed
the family out later. Another sister, Helen, was born
in New Zealand. She married Frank Eckersley and
they also spent much of their lives in Waimangaroa.
Cath Robertson (nee Queripel) has lived her entire
life in Waimangaroa, mostly in homes in McGill
Street. She is the third of four children. Her parents,
John and Daisy Queripel, had already moved ‘off
the hill’ by the time she arrived but she was born at
the Denniston Hospital, where she stayed for the
required two weeks.
Mr Robertson said his father assumed all his sons
would follow him into mining. However, elder
brother Bobby fought for Frank to be allowed to
attend secondary school in Denniston, which he did
for one year, after graduating as dux of Burnett ’s Face
Primary School in 1937.
Bobby then eventually convinced their father to
allow Frank to take up a carpentry apprenticeship.
He had wanted to be a school teacher.
Mr Robertson worked for the Mines Department
for his entire working life retiring from his role of
foreman carpenter at the age of 60.
Mrs Robertson attended Waimangaroa School and
then the Westport Technical College. She recalls
taking the steam train to Westport and then having
to lug a suitcase load of books to the Derby Street
based school every day. She left school and worked
for Connie Prestage helping care for her four young
children, before leaving to marry Frank Robertson.
The couple met at a dance at the old Waimangaroa
Hall when Cath was 16 and Frank 18. They married
four years later and lived the first two years of their
married life in Waimangaroa with Mr Robertson’s
eldest sister Abbie Curragh. He had just completed
building her house. Mr Robertson went on to build
their own home which he said was “pretty rough
for a few years”. He said it did not have much more
than a “front and back door”. They did not take out
a mortgage and saved hard to complete it room by
The couple had four sons who all married West
Coast girls. Peter married Sue Struthers, David
married Margaret Coyne, Tony married Helen
Murphy and Paul married Evelyn Luff. Just Peter
and Tony remain in Westport with David living in
Wellington and Paul in Christchurch.
The family enjoyed camping and had a yearly
holiday to the Nelson area.
“I’m not sure how we all fitted in an 8 x 8 tent,” Mrs
They continued to have holidays in a caravan until
about 14 years ago when she struggled to get up the
steps. She went on to have two hip replacements and
then a knee done one year ago. She now copes with
Mr Robertson has kept good health but a heart
attack 10 years ago slowed him down. He also had a
“ You don’t bounce off concrete so well at 92,” Mrs
They have both been fully involved in a variety of
local groups and committees over the years with Mr
Robertson still being active in the Torea Masonic
Lodge and Mrs Robertson in the Waimangaroa
Women’s Institute. They have also been involved
in Playcentre, Plunket, scouts, cubs and the many
sporting groups their sons belonged to. He was also
a volunteer St John officer, receiving his 50-year
badge. He was one of the first in Buller to be sent to
Auckland for official training.
They have also both been involved with running
the Waimangaroa Hall, which Mr Robertson and
a group of local football club volunteers built. They
have been caretakers for 40 years and they resign
from that role at the end of January.
The Robertsons keep up a steady routine with
breakfast at 9am, lunch at 12pm and a cooked
dinner at 5.30pm. They have an hour of home help
three times a week. They still make a weekly trip to
Westport for shopping and jobs.
They say they are grateful to their wonderful friends
and family many of who check in on them regularly,
especially great nephew Steven Anderson who has
taken over growing the glasshouse tomatoes. “I’ve
always been a poor gardener,” Mr Robertson said.
Once Mrs Robertson knew everyone living in
Waimangaroa but that has now changed, along with
many other things in the small town. They have
watched the closure of the Post Office, school and
However, they have no plans to leave the home they
have known for nearly 68 years.
Cath and Frank Robertson yesterday celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.
The Robertsons on their wedding day 70 years ago.
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