They would have rubbed shoulders in Stratford as strangers numerous times, but it was only this Labour weekend that John Mason and Ian Blackstock (74) met as brothers.
For Ian it was the last piece of the puzzle since he started searching for his birth family around a year ago. For John, the news that he has a half-brother came as a bit of a shock.
"Our mother had told us everything about her life, or so we thought. Mum would have been 18," says John.
Ian, who grew up on Bird Rd as an only child, was told he was adopted when 17, but though curious, he did not pursue it. Last year, however, he says he broke down. "I told my wife Marina I don't know who I am and why I do things the way I do them."
So, the search began. He found his birth certificate showing his mum as Joan Allcock and his father as unknown, and then April this year he met his half-sisters, Janet (71), Gay (65) and Ann (55) who live in Hawke's Bay, and now John.
"It really changed my life. I feel about 50 now. I get quite emotional and cannot stop telling people about it."
John, who lived and worked in Stratford between 1970 and 1979 before moving to Australia in March this year, says a New Zealand adoption agency contacted his eldest sister about a half brother wanting to meet them. John's mum married his dad, Bob Mason, in 1942, and they lived in Douglas. Unfortunately Joan died in May 2006.
"It is ironic that at the time I lived in Stratford, Ian had known a lot of my friends, but we had never crossed paths," says John, who is an avid genealogist. Ian says he bought many beers for shearers at DJ Malone Wine and Spirit Merchants in Stratford, where John had worked.
Ian says he is the spitting image of his mum and is told he has the same mannerisms.
"I have found my roots."