Obituary: Berin Spiro

By Phoebe Falconer

Berin Spiro, florist, TV presenter. Died aged 86.

Auckland florist Berin Spiro was chosen to arrange the flowers on an aircraft that was to carry the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on a visit in 1970. His brief was made more difficult by the decor, which included peacock-blue seat covers and a burnt-orange carpet. Spiro solved the problem by using white carnations, green Bells of Ireland and scarlet anthuriums.

This was not the first time Spiro had arranged flowers for royalty. He decorated the plane used to carry the Queen Mother during a visit in 1966, using carnations, hyacinths and orchids; and constructed a bouquet presented to the Queen Mother by the City of Auckland.

Spiro's expertise in flower arranging was widely recognised. He went on a tour of 22 major cities in the United States in 1967, chosen by Interflora to demonstrate new techniques in floral design to television audiences. He acted as compere at floral design shows in the US, and lectured to design classes both here and overseas.

Being invited to join Northern Television's Town and Around interview team in 1969 provided a new challenge. He was more used to being interviewed than asking the questions himself, but he proved popular.

Spiro's career in flowers began in 1945 when he set up his first shop in Auckland. This was followed by two more, with the business ending up with branches in Vulcan Lane, Parnell and St Lukes.

To keep himself fully occupied, Spiro opened a charm school, for women originally but expanded in 1961 to include classes for businessmen. He was concerned that the young men of the day did not know how to order wine and food when out with clients, how to dress correctly, or even which side to walk on when out strolling with a girl: the young lady must be protected from danger, especially hordes pouring out of bars at 6pm.

His book, A Time for Flowers, was published in 1968. He is survived by his wife, Deanne, and children Matthew, Gabbie and Jeffery.

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