Our Church.


St Pauls crop

There was one person I wish could have been at our wedding in New Zealand.

This week, Julie and I celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary. Thinking back to that day in 1987, I can’t remember if it was a lack of money or her age that kept my Nana away. I know she definitely would have wanted to have been there. She was my mum’s mum, I’m her oldest grandchild so I would have been her first and I was the first to get married.

I’d met Julie in New Zealand and we were married in a little stone church in the Bay of Islands, about 70 km north of where Julie is from. Neither of us are religious but we walked past it one day on a day out and it just looked perfect. From that day on, we’ve just called it, “our church”.

Nana had visited New Zealand a few years earlier. In 1984, when she was 76, she made the trip on her own. It was the first time she’d been on a plane, in fact, the day she flew out from Manchester was the first time she’d been in an airport.

That was all before I met Julie. My parents hadn’t moved back home to England yet (they’d emigrated to New Zealand in 1983 but moved back to the UK in 1985, I stayed on in New Zealand). In 84, I was still living with my parents in Whangarei. Nana stayed with us for the summer, avoiding the British winter. When she got back to the UK we found out that she hardly ever stopped talking about New Zealand. She loved the place and said she wanted to go back one day.  

When she died in 1995, my parents took her ashes back to New Zealand. Now a marble plaque marks the spot where they are interred in the grounds of St Paul’s Church, Paihia, the church where Julie and I got married.

So she made it to “our church” after all.

Kathleen Hughes crop

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