Enjoy your love and don't argue too much is Ruby and Barry McKay's advice for couples as they celebrate 65 years of marriage next week.

February 22 marks the Sapphire anniversary for the Ngunguru couple – an occasion that is becoming rarer as marriages in New Zealand have been on a steady decline since the 1970s.

While in 1971, 45 out of 1000 Kiwis registered a new marriage, today it's only 11 out of 1000 people.

Ruby and Barry had met in 1951 when Barry was down from Auckland to visit his sister in Wellington.


Barry's sister had organised for him to go to a social gathering where Ruby, who had grown up in the capital, also happened to be.

Ruby was 18 at that time and Barry, 17, said he never thought she'd be interested in him.

Barry's charm must have struck the right note, however, and the next day he found out where Ruby worked so he could see her again.

When he left Wellington to return north, they exchanged addresses to write letters and stay in contact.

"We survived doing this for four years, knowing that at the end we wanted to get married," Barry said. "We hardly saw each other during that time."

The drive was long, and cars as well as roads uncomfortable, so only occasionally Barry would make the trip down to see Ruby for the weekend.

Strapped for money, the couple celebrated a small, intimate wedding on February 22, 1955, in Wellington and went to sunny Hawke's Bay for their honeymoon.

"And after then, it was work," Ruby said with a chuckle.


Ruby left the windy city to follow Barry, who had started his own photography business, up North.

"I hated Auckland. It was very hard to get to know people," Ruby said.

Barry had specialised in industrial and commercial photography and documented, among other projects, the construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

The couple rented their first place together in Mount Roskill but shifted around for a while until they bought a house at Bucklands Beach – a treat for Ruby and Barry who enjoy being close to the water.

Their love for the sea and sailing has connected them all their lives and helped them to find many like-minded friends.

In 1956, their first daughter was born, followed by two more – all of whom spent much of their childhood on boats.

Today, Ruby and Barry have five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Though part of their family lives across the Tasman, Ruby and Barry are in regular contact with their daughter in Australia.

Ruby said the pair never made any big plans in life, instead they took a day at a time, travelling with their girls across New Zealand whenever they had time and money to spare.

Next to sailing, Barry's great passion is cars. His first car was an Austin 7 that he owned at the age of 18 – he is now on his 101st car.

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When the big city got too crowded for Ruby and Barry, they headed further north to Kaitaia where they ran a motor inn for some years.

As tourist numbers dropped and business became less lucrative, the pair moved to Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty and took over a kiwifruit orchard – which Ruby described as a financial disaster.

With the interest rate spiking at 22 per cent at the time, loaning money was a big burden for the couple – then in their 50s.

They got back on their feet over six years in Auckland, and finally ready to retire, Barry and Ruby bought a bit of land out in Ngunguru where they have lived ever since – as close to the beach as possible.

For their anniversary, the couple plan a dinner with just the two of them. Barry said their 65-year marriage was marked with little to no arguments.

"Life is too short to argue. Just enjoy your love. And when you get cross with one another, never stay like that too long. The main thing is to be positive and keep going."