More than 70 years after meeting at a local party Norman and Coral Nichol are still going strong, recently marking their 70th wedding anniversary.

They celebrated with a party with friends and family at their home in Whareora.

Norm was born September 19, 1925, at Hikurangi and Coral (nee Thorburn) was born November 25, 1930 in Whangārei and brought up in the main homestead on Thorburn Rd, Matarau.

Norm left school at age 13, did some correspondence school and worked in Kaiatea. Coral finished her schooling at Kowhai College, Mt Albert then came back to help on the family farm. Norm and his parents, Sammy and Jeanie Nichol, were sharemilking for the McKinleys at Kokopu.

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The couple met at one of the local family parties held in the Ruatangata area. Neither had vehicles and they both rode bikes.

When the contract with the McKinleys expired Norm and his family took up a sharemilking factory at Weke Valley. Coral was hired as the fourth milker at $1 per week plus board and lodgings. They used to travel to town by bus when necessary. Norm was also showing his sporting dogs.

On Christmas Eve, 1947, Norm followed Coral's father all around town trying to corner him to ask permission to marry Coral. They married June 19 that year at Ruatangata Church, with the reception at the Ruatangata hall. Norm was an hour late for the wedding because the bridal car had to be used to transport the food - made by his mother - to the reception, before the bride could be collected. It was a rainy day but the sun shone as they came out of the church.

In 1950 Glenis, their eldest was born, and they bought an Essex 6, four-door car which broke down every time Norm's mother was in it.

In 1952 Norm and Coral moved to sharemilk for Austie Sloane at Mata. Second child Gay (Nickie) was born and Norm had an interest in Berkshire pigs and created a stud and showed them at A & P shows. They then bought a new Morris Cowley ute and added a flat deck and stock sides. They stayed at the Sloanes for three years.

In 1955 they moved to Cam Brown's property at Riponui and in 1956 James (Jim) was born.

In 1959 they bought 40ha with a house and a four-bale cowshed at Snooks Rd, Maungakaramea for $100, interest free for one year. In 1960 Wendy, the youngest child, was born. They were offered a job at the Bentley farm in Bint Rd, Maungakaramea for a year so they moved there to be near their farm in Snooks Rd.

In 1961, on Mother's Day, Norm rolled and was crushed by his tractor on the Bentley farm. His injuries were so severe he was not expected to live. It was hard times, especially for Coral milking two herds on separate farms with four young children.

But Maungakaramea folk rallied around and helped as much as they could, and Norm and Coral are thankful to all of them for the unwavering support. Norm was in hospital for four months in plaster from his neck to his toes and he continues to have medical problems.

Coral was at the top of the Maungakaramea tennis ladder and played rep tennis for Mid-Western. In 1984 they sold the main part of the farm and retained 40ha with a house on it. Wendy was living in Norfolk Island and after a visit there, they decided to make the move there.

In his retirement Norm became an avid bowler and in 1990 Coral gave up her tennis racket and joined him on the bowling green. She was a Norfolk Island team member in the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Vancouver. Norm went as a team manager. She was also chosen to play in the Pacific Games in Vancouver. They also played in such places as Sydney, Lord Howe Island, Brisbane and Christchurch while they were living in Norfolk Island.