A special milestone celebrated in North Canterbury

A platinum celebration . . . Joy and Mervyn Harris celebrated 70 years of marriage this week.


Young married couple, Mervyn and Joy Harris, began married life in North Canterbury’s high country.

They lived at Molesworth Station for two and half years before moving on to Mt Vulcan, a sheep and cattle farm in Omihi, where they lived for 61 years.

Mr and Mrs Harris, who now live in Amberley, celebrated a special milestone this week – 70 years of wedded bliss.

The couple met in Kaikoura at a dance which was held in the Drill Hall.

It was a lucky, chance meeting, which only occurred because Mr Harris was visiting Kaikoura to see his parents who had moved to the coastal town.

He decided to have a night out at the local function and asked Joy to dance “and that was the start of their romance,” says their daughter, Nicky McAnulty.

The Amberley nonagenarians, who were married in St Peters Kaikoura Anglican Church on February 2, 1952, had a special lunch with family and friends in Leithfield last Saturday to celebrate their platinum anniversary.

The lunch was held at the McAnulty home, with those attending double vaccinated against Covid-19.

Mr Harris, who is 95, was born in Rangiora but lived his childhood in Balcairn, and Mrs Harris, who is 91, was born in Kaikoura, where she lived up until their marriage and worked as a hairdresser after leaving school.

Mr Harris left home at age 14, after deciding a high school education was not for him.

He went to work as a stockman at St James Station, in North Canterbury, then later worked at St Helen’s Station, near Hanmer Springs, before accepting a job as head stockman at Molesworth Station in Marlborough.

Station manager Bill Chisholm offered Mervyn a cottage on the station, so Mervyn phoned Joy and asked her to marry him.

They were married in front of 100 guests. Joy wore a long white lace gown, with a floor-length veil, and Mervyn a black suit.

They honeymooned in Akaroa then it was home to Molesworth.

“Joy had to learn to cook. She was helped a lot by Mrs Chisholm and became a very good cook,” Nicky says.

The couple lived at Molesworth for two and a half years. Their first daughter, Sharyn, was born during this time.

After leaving Molesworth, Mr Harris began a new job at Mt Vulcan, where their second daughter Nicky and son Kim were added to the family.

They now have eight grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren, ranging in age from five months to 23 years, and love spending time with all their family.

Mrs Harris has belonged to several groups including the Ladies Guild, and the Women’s Institute. She was also treasurer of the Omihi Social Club.

“Mervyn was a keen gardener and always had a large vegetable garden,” Nicky says.

The couple have enjoyed going on many holidays with Nicky and her family, including to Stewart Island and Australia, and also being the witnesses to grandson Jesse at his wedding to Nicola.

The couple moved from Omihi to Amberley in 2015 for health reasons.